Dozens of adults and children from the Fort McCoy community participated in the installation's 30th observance of Arbor Day on April 27 with the planting of more than 400 trees on the cantonment area.

The installation ceremony included not only the planting of 415 trees, but also the reading of the Arbor Day proclamation and the presentation of the installation's 29th 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 (NRB).

"We've been doing this for 30 straight years, and since we held a 30th observance, we also qualify for a 30th Tree City USA award next year," Kerkman said.

Fort McCoy Garrison Commander Col. David J. Pinter Sr., Garrison Command Sgt. Maj. Frank T. Mathias, Deputy to the Garrison Commander James A. Chen, DPW Director Liane Haun, DPW Environmental Division Chief James Hessil, NRB Chief Mark McCarty, and others were among the personnel supporting the event.

"Trees were planted 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 415 trees planted during the observance, Kerkman said more than 4,000 trees overall were planted throughout post.

"Boy Scout Troop 5 from Tomah (Wis.) helped plant over 1,000 trees on (April 27), and students with a local school, High Point School, planted 1,000 trees on April 24 on post," Kerkman said. NRB staff also planted another 1,585 trees on May 1 in Training Area B-9 to revegetate a fire damaged area.

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