PRINCESS ANNE — This year’s Arbor Day celebration was notable as it marked the 150th anniversary of the national observance. The University of Maryland Eastern Shore has teamed up with the Maryland Forest Service for a tree planting ceremony to serve as one of the statewide kick-off events aiming to be a catalyst to meet the state’s tree canopy goals.
The Maryland General Assembly passed the Tree Solutions Now Act of 2021 allocating $10 million per year over an eight-year period to encourage the planting of five million trees in the state. The Chesapeake Bay Trust serves as the administrator of the funds being distributed to educational institutions, communities, civic groups and others who commit to planting trees in underserved regions.
As part of the effort, Marian Honeczy, an urban and community forester with the Maryland Forest Service, reached out to the state’s four Historically Black Colleges and Universities to register for the Arbor Day Foundation’s Tree Campus Higher Education Program.
“The program includes national certification and is a great way to promote UMES’ commitment to trees on the 745-acre main campus — often noted for its ‘arboretum-style’ grounds,” said Dr. Stephanie Stotts, an associate professor in UMES’ Department of Natural Sciences and Department of Agriculture, Food and Resource Sciences and organizer for the event.
“Tree Campus recognizes that trees and green spaces are an integral part of college campuses making them more appealing to students and the community.”
Students in Stotts’ urban forestry class worked with Dutch Harbour, the university’s grounds supervisor to pick out the location and a red maple was donated by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. Students from the Agriculture and Natural Science programs also participated in the brief ceremony next to the William P. Hytche Athletic Center.
“We hope to increase recognition for Arbor Day and UMES by continuing to support tree and plant diversity throughout campus,” said Harbour.
“Campuses were required to hold an Arbor Day event to be eligible for the Tree Campus Higher Education Program,” Stotts said. “We will be planting one tree this year, but hope that it will lead to additional plantings. Now more than ever, communities are realizing the importance of trees.”
“Trees are an extremely important and cheap solution for multiple concerns,” said Honeczy.
“Trees create shade and reduce heat island effect, can clean the air and reduce asthma rates and help with climate change. All it takes is for everyone to plant one tree.”
— Gail Stephens is the Agricultural Communications and Media Associate at UMES.