Arbor Day 2013
In 1854 J Sterling Morton moved from Detroit to the area that is now the state of Nebraska. At that time there were virtually no trees in the area and he and the other pioneers desired to have them in their surroundings. They also noticed that trees were needed to act as windbreaks to stabilize the soil and to provide shade from the sun, fuel and building materials. Morton planted many trees around his own home but wanted to encourage and enable others to do the same.
At a Nebraska State Board of Agriculture meeting on January 4, 1872, he proposed a holiday to plant trees on April 10, 1872. This was known as "Arbor Day" and prizes were awarded to the counties and individuals who planted the most trees on the day. A total of about one million trees were planted in Nebraska on the first Arbor Day. In 1874, Governor Robert W Furnas officially proclaimed that Arbor Day would be observed on April 10, 1884. In 1885, it became a legal holiday and was moved to April 22, which was Morton's birthday. In 1989 the official state holiday was moved to the last Friday in April. In Nebraska, Arbor Day is now observed on the last Friday in April, which is also when National Arbor Day is observed. Former President Richard Nixon proclaimed the last Friday in April as National Arbor Day during his presidency in 1970.