More than 30 adults and children from the Fort McCoy community participated in the installation's observance of Arbor Day on April 28 with the planting of more than 300 trees on the cantonment area.

The installation ceremony included not only the planting of 320 trees, but also the reading of the Arbor Day proclamation and the presentation of the installation's 28th consecutive Tree City USA award, said Forester James Kerkman with the Forestry Office of the Directorate of Public Works (DPW) Environmental Division Natural Resources Branch.

Fort McCoy Garrison Commander Col. David J. Pinter Sr., Deputy Commander Col. James A. Parkinson, Deputy to the Garrison Commander James A. Chen, DPW Director Liane Haun, and others were among the personnel supporting the event.

"We planted the trees 25 feet away from the cantonment area fence line in one long row," Kerkman said. "The trees are planted in accordance with our installation physical-security requirements and will eventually serve as a natural screen between the installation and Highway 21."

Arbor Day founder J. Sterling Morton started the observance in the late 19th century by organizing a statewide Arbor Day for Nebraska.

According to the National Arbor Day Foundation (NADF), Morton was a respected agriculturalist and is widely known for his push to educate the public about updated agricultural and forestry techniques. During the first Arbor Day, an estimated 1 million trees were planted. Today, many communities across America recognize Arbor Day every year in late April.

To qualify for a Tree City USA designation, a town or city must meet four standards established by the NADF and the National Association of State Foresters to ensure that every qualifying community would have a viable tree-management plan and program, according to the NADF. The four requirements are maintaining a tree board or department, having a community tree ordinance, spending at least $2 per capita on urban forestry, and celebrating Arbor Day.

Kerkman said the installation meets all four requirements with an urban forestry program that completes tree care through a DPW contractor, establishment of Fort McCoy Regulation 420-34 - "Urban Tree Management," per capita findings from installation economic impact data, and the annual Arbor Day observance.

The Fort McCoy Arbor Day event is always coordinated by the installation Forestry program, Kerkman said. In addition to the 320 trees planted during the observance, Kerkman said more than 3,500 trees overall were planted throughout post.
"We planted hundreds of trees in the Bravo-9 training area with a Boy Scout troop in a separate event," Kerkman said.

The thousands of newly planted trees is an effort that is repeated every year on post, said Forestry Technician Charles Mentzel. Fort McCoy has more than 46,000 acres of forested land managed by the Forestry Office, and it's important to maintain those forested areas.

"From a forestry perspective, our mission here, first and foremost, is to serve the Army and create training environments that better serve our Soldiers who support future missions in defense of this country," Mentzel said. "While we build on that training mission, at the same time, we find a balance to improve and protect the natural resources of Fort McCoy for years to come."

Fort McCoy has supported America's armed forces since 1909. The installation's motto is to be the "Total Force Training Center." The post's varied terrain, state-of-the-art ranges, new as well as renovated facilities, and extensive support infrastructure, combine to provide military personnel with an environment in which to develop and sustain the skills necessary for mission success.