The City of Branson co-hosted an Arbor Day Celebration and Tree Giveaway with Empire District Electric Company on Friday, April 29th at Lakeside Forest. This was the 21st year the City of Branson was recognized by the Arbor Day Foundation as a Tree City USA.
Area residents and businesses were invited to participate in the dedication ceremonies and Arbor Day Foundation celebration with the City of Branson, Empire District Electric Utility and Missouri Department of Conservation. Empire Electric celebrated this event by providing registered customers with a free tree seedling specifically selected to thrive in the Ozarks region.
In 1854, J. Sterling Morton and his wife moved to the Nebraska Territory from Detroit. As they were nature lovers, they quickly planted trees and shrubs at their newly established home. J. Sterling Morton was a journalist and became the editor of one of the Nebraska’s newspapers. He published agricultural and tree information to a very interested audience. Not only did the pioneers miss their trees, they also needed windbreaks to prevent soil erosion as well as fuel, building materials, and shade from the summer sun. Morton encouraged individuals to plant trees as well as civic organizations. As his popularity increased, he became the secretary of the Nebraska Territory. On January 4, 1872, Morton proposed the first tree-planting holiday to be called Arbor Day. The date was set for April 10, 1872. Prizes were offered to counties and individuals for properly planting the largest number of trees on that day. It was estimated, more than one million trees were planted in Nebraska on the first Arbor Day.
Arbor Day was officially proclaimed by the Nebraska Governor Robert W. Furnas on March 12, 1874, to be observed on April 10, 1874. In 1885 Arbor Day was named a legal holiday in Nebraska and April 22, Morton’s birthday was selected as the date for its permanent observance. During the 1870s, other states passed legislation to observe Arbor Day, and the tradition began in schools nationwide in 1882.