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February 25, 2009 > Arbor Day comes early to Coyote Hills

Arbor Day comes early to Coyote Hills

Even though National Arbor Day is celebrated on the last Friday in April, some states, including California, celebrate this tree planting holiday at times more suited to their growing seasons. Officially our state celebrates Arbor Day during the week of March 7 - 14, but some local residents were at Coyote Hills East Bay Regional Park on Saturday, February 21 giving Arbor Day and "Forest of the Future" tree-planting activities a head start.

Sponsored by Fremont Bank as an extension of Founder Morris Hymen's support of East Bay Regional Park District (EBRPD), approximately 30 volunteer employees - Team HEROES (Help, Educate, Recognize, Organize, Embrace, and Serve the Community) -and their families were present to continue this project on its tenth anniversary.

As one of the programs administered under the EBRPD Wildlife Partner Program, "Forest of the Future" is dedicated to preserving and improving the quality of life for wildlife (and human residents too). Park District Wildlife Resource Analyst, Dave Riensche (a.k.a. Doc Quack), gave often humorous instructions ('tickle' the roots to help them loosen from being compacted in containers) with the help of his children, to correctly plant Oak Tree saplings. These trees are destined to lend their support to a healthy and sustainable East Bay environment. Hattie Hughes, Hymen's daughter was also on hand to lend her support to the project.

The Oak trees will provide a habitat for more than 170 species of birds, 100 types of mammals and 60 types of reptiles and amphibians. "This year's Forest of the Future is both a celebration of ten years of this remarkable project and a tribute to Fremont Bank and Bank Founder Morris Hyman's legacy to make a difference here in the East Bay," says Riensche "In 1999, Mr. Hyman proactively sought-out the Park District and how the bank could get involved to preserve these amazing Oak trees. The trees we planted together ten years ago are growing strong, and are a powerful symbol of the strength of our relationship." The Wildlife Partner Program was founded in 1990 by Riensche, who saw a need to meld volunteer energy with the District's scientific expertise to meet conservation needs.

The first Arbor Day was celebrated in Nebraska on April 10, 1872, thanks to a resolution proposed by Nebraska City, Nebraska resident J. Sterling Morton. Morton, a civic leader agriculturist, and a former newspaper editor, urged Nebraskans to "set aside one day to plant trees, both forest and fruit." The tree-planting holiday was so popular that by 1920 more than 45 states and U.S. territories annually celebrated Arbor Day. Today it is observed in all 50 states and in many countries around the world. The California Redwood including the Coast Redwood, Sequoia semprivans, and the Sierra Big Tree, Sequoia gigantea were adopted in 1937 as the state tree of California.

More information about EBRPD's Wildlife Partner Program is available at

For more information on Arbor Day, the Arbor Day Foundation, or ways to celebrate the tree planters' holiday, visit or call (402) 474-5655.

Color your world for Arbor Day

Become a member of the Arbor Day Foundation by April 1 and you will receive five crapemyrtle trees. The free trees are part of the foundation's Trees for America campaign.

The small flowering trees boast pink and red six-petaled flowers and leaves that change from summer green to autumn red, orange and yellow. They will be shipped before April 30 with planting instructions. The 6- to 12-inch trees are guaranteed to grow or will be replaced at no charge.

Members will also receive The Tree Book, which includes information about tree planting and care, and a bimonthly subscription to Arbor Day.

Send a $10 membership contribution to Five Crapemyrtles, Arbor Day Foundation, 100 Arbor Ave., Nebraska City, NE 68410.

Casey Boggs contributed to this article.

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