L to R: Trades Manager Anthony Griffin, State Forester Bettina Ring, Secretary of Natural Resources Molly Ward, First Lady Dorothy McAuliffe, Governor Terry McAuliffe and Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Basil Gooden plant a willow oak tree on the grounds of Capitol Square to celebrate the 145th anniversary of Arbor Day and the 47th anniversary of Earth Day.
Governor Terry McAuliffe and First Lady Dorothy McAuliffe recognized the 145th anniversary of Arbor Day (Friday, April 28) at a tree planting and reception celebrating the future of Virginia’s forests and natural resources.
To mark the special anniversary of Arbor Day and the 47th anniversary of Earth Day, the Governor and First Lady, Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Basil Gooden, Secretary of Natural Resources Molly Ward and staff from the Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF) planted a willow oak on Capitol Square on Wednesday, April 19. The willow oak tree replaces a large sugar maple that was blown down during a thunderstorm last spring.
In recognition of Arbor Day, which is celebrated every year on the last Friday in April, Governor McAuliffe issued a proclamation urging all citizens to support efforts to protect Virginia’s trees and woodlands and to plant trees to gladden the heart and promote the well-being of this and future generations.
“Rather than looking only backward to past accomplishments, at Arbor Day and Earth Day we look forward with promise to a healthy and sustainable environment,” said Governor McAuliffe. “These two days give us an occasion to celebrate our accomplishments and look to the future, planning for the forest of tomorrow and for the generations who will inherit and become stewards of those forests.”
First Lady Dorothy McAuliffe said, “Conserving and managing the Commonwealth’s abundant resources is a team effort. Today we also recognize the many professionals, landowners and citizens who contribute their time and expertise to ensuring Virginia’s future stays green.”
Secretary Gooden said, “Virginia’s more than 16 million acres of forestland are at the heart of a $17 billion forest industry that employs more than 103,000 Virginians. Our forests not only provide clean drinking water, fresh air, abundant wildlife habitat and diverse outdoor recreational opportunities, but forest products comprise two of our top ten agricultural exports year in and year out.”
Secretary Ward said, “The first Earth Day was celebrated in colleges, universities, primary and secondary schools and communities across the country on April 22, 1970. We have an opportunity today to continue that tradition of education by passing along fundamental lessons to younger generations about stewardship of our natural resources and caring for our environment.”
State Forester of Virginia Bettina Ring emphasized the importance of trees and natural resources in urban areas. “We know that staying active is essential to good health, and cities with accessible green space where people can walk, bike, paddle and play make getting and staying healthy easier.”
-Submitted by John Campbell