Started in the 1870s, Arbor Day is the nation’s oldest environmental holiday, and it’s now celebrated around the world. In Pittsburgh, groups of volunteers gathered at West Penn Park in Polish Hill Friday to plant new trees in honor of Arbor Day.
“Folks may remember that this was the site where goats came last summer to help eat down the invasive species that were on this site, so we’re following the goats with the tree planting,” said Danielle Crumrine, executive director at Tree Pittsburgh.
Volunteers planted 100 trees in and around the park. Crumrine said all are native species, grown from locally collected seeds. She said that ensures a diverse tree population, which is important for long-term health.
“Let’s reference Ash Trees, for example, if you have trees that are all clones and something comes through – some kind of disease or insect, all those trees can be wiped out at once,” said Crumrine, “so you really want to have diversity not only species, but in genetics as well.”
The trees planted include buckeyes, Virginia pine, pawpaw, and Kentucky coffee trees. Crumrine said there are about 12 varieties planted.
“We really like to stress the importance of trees on Arbor Day,” said Crumrine, “and create awareness about all of the benefits that they provide, especially in the urban environments where air pollution is such an issue; the heat – we get so much shade from trees as well as all of the many water quality benefits that we get from trees.”
Plus, she said, “trees make us happy!”