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Arbor Day Festival
The History of Arbor Day

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Arbor Day Festival
Yakima Area Arboretum
Interstate 82 & Nob Hill Boulevard
1401 Arboretum Drive
Yakima, Washington 98901
Voice: 509-248-7337

The idea for Arbor Day came from J. Sterling Morton. He and his wife, after moving from Detroit to their home in Nebraska where there was no trees and little vegetation, began planting their favorite trees, flowers and shrubs. He used his position as editor of Nebraska’s first newspaper to advocate the importance of planting trees. On January 4th, 1872, Morton first proposed a tree planting holiday to be named "Arbor Day." The date was set for April 10th and prizes were to be awarded to counties and individuals for properly planting the most trees on that day. It was estimated that more than a million trees were planted on the first Arbor Day. Arbor Day became an official state holiday in 1885.

Other states began passing legislation to observe Arbor Day during the 1870’s and the tradition began in schools in 1882. Today, the most common date for observing arbor day is the last Friday in April, but a number of state Arbor Days are set to coincide with the best tree planting season in that area. In Washington, Arbor Day is observed on the second Wednesday in April.

Locally, the Arbor Day Festival and Spring Plant Sale is held annually at the Yakima Area Arboretum. This year’s event happened on Saturday, April 27th 2002. The Arbor Day Festival is a great event for the whole family to come out and learn about the importance of trees in our environment.



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