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Plant it Forward

Celebrate Arbor Day
in downtown Cary.

A Chinese proverb teaches: The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago—but the second best time is now.

Trees play an important role in the ecosystem. They provide shelter and food for wildlife, and shade from intense heat. They filter pollution and absorb carbon dioxide. And, they beautify our residential landscapes and public spaces. In short, trees make our lives more bearable. The Town of Cary takes tree protection seriously through many programs, one of them being an official Arbor Day celebration.

Founded in Nebraska by J. Sterling Morton, Arbor Day is an annual observance that celebrates the importance of trees and promotes tree planting and care. During the first National Arbor Day, observed on April 10th, 1872, over 1 million trees were planted. On Cary’s inaugural Arbor Day in 2010, a group of Boy Scouts came together and planted several to mark the occasion. While National Arbor Day is celebrated on the last Friday in April, individual states observe the holiday on dates closest to optimum planting times for their area. In North Carolina, Arbor Day is celebrated on the first Friday following March 15th.

Cary has the distinction of having been named a Tree City USA Community for more than 36 years. This designation is awarded to communities based on a variety of factors, including the management of urban forests and volunteer commitment to landscape-based environmental practices. “Cary has always had strong commitment to parks, greenways, and areas around streams,” says Sarah Justice, Cary’s Environmental Outreach Program Coordinator.

Not only do Cary’s elected officials place a priority on protecting the environment, its citizens do as well. The Town of Cary’s Spruce Program launched in 2009, serving as a volunteer group to protect and preserve the environment. Since its inception, volunteers have planted more than 10,000 trees, shrubs, and plants in the community.

Justice, who says Cary is always willing to think differently about development, cites ordinances that are in place to protect the environment, including a Champion Tree ordinance, which protects large specimens from being cut down. Rules are also established to ensure trees are preserved in large enough groups so that nature can perform critical ecosystem services.

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