PROVIDENCE –The Department of Environmental Management (DEM) is encouraging residents get outside and appreciate Rhode Island's bounty of trees on Arbor Day. DEM is cosponsoring a tree planting Arbor Day Celebration on Friday, April 29, at 10:30 AM at Wilson Park in North Kingstown, along with the Town of North Kingstown, Rhode Island Tree Council, and National Grid. Trees play an important role in cooling streets and homes, filtering air, and sequestering carbon.
"In all of Rhode Island's 39 cities and towns, trees beautify our landscapes, provide cooling shade in the summer, and mitigate the effects of climate change," said Governor Dan McKee. "This Arbor Day, I encourage Rhode Islanders to show their appreciation of trees by participating in community cleanups to Keep Rhody Litter Free."
"Rhode Island's forests are marvels. They are the origin of much of our clean drinking water, purify our air, hold topsoil to prevent erosion, and provide habitat to hundreds of species of mammals, birds, and insects," said DEM Acting Director Terry Gray. "From rural communities to our urban centers, trees improve and beautify almost every aspect of our lives. I'm grateful to take time on Arbor Day to appreciate their many benefits."
Each year, Arbor Day is celebrated on the last Friday of April to mark the importance of trees to the environment, culture, and economy. The first Arbor Day was celebrated in Nebraska in 1872 with more than a million tree plantings. Rhode Island began celebrating the day in 1887. In addition to Arbor Day, Rhode Island is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Clean Water Act this year and urge Rhode Islanders to take action to confront climate change and live more sustainably.
Rhode Island's 386,373 acres of forest protect drinking water, improve air quality, mitigate climate change, provide opportunities for outdoor recreation, promote health, harbor wildlife, and create economic value. They provide a "sense of place" to rural communities, suburbs, and cities alike and offer quiet solitude from a culture obsessed with screens and social media.
DEM's Division of Forest Environment and Agriculture works across the state with property owners and rural and urban communities on a wide range of forestry topics including forest heath, forest fire prevention, community tree planting, and private forest land management to maximize the positive benefits that forests bring to all Rhode Islanders. The division also manages 40,000 acres of state-owned rural forestland including the Arcadia and George Washington Management Areas, popular venues for outdoor recreation.
More than 50% of Rhode Island is forested, with most forest land owned by private citizens who face increased pressure to develop it for other uses. The most common forest health threats are from development or through fragmentation of large, forested parcels into smaller parcels, making sustainable forest management difficult. Healthy forests are essential to public health and well-being and form an important part of the state's natural infrastructure. From providing us with food to eat, paper for the books we read, and materials from which we build our homes and other products, forests have tremendous environmental, economic, and cultural benefits.
For more information on DEM programs and services, visit www.dem.ri.gov. Follow DEM on Facebook, Twitter (@RhodeIslandDEM), or Instagram (@RhodeIsland_DEM).