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Date of Issue: January 23, 2008

Islanders observe Florida Arbor Day

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Anna Maria celebrates Arbor Day
Two sabal palms and some sea grape trees donated by Modern Woodmen of America and Keep Manatee Beautiful were planted at the city pier in Anna Maria Jan. 18 as part of the Florida Arbor Day celebration. Planting the trees were, from left, Bob McDuffie of Modern Woodmen, Anna Maria Mayor Fran Barford, Mike Keegan of the Florda Department of Agriculture, Anna Maria superintendent of public works George McKay, public works staff Gary Thorpe and Brent Thompson, city resident Mike Miller and Ingrid McClellan, director of Keep Manatee Beautiful. Islander Photo: Rick Catlin
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Tree friends
Arbor Day in Bradenton Beach last Friday included the planting of a gumbo limbo tree near the intersection of Gulf Drive and Cortez Road. Pictured at the ceremonies, from left, are Keep Manatee Beautiful executive director Ingrid McClellan, Mike Keegan of the Florida Department of Agriculture, and Bradenton Beach officials, Mayor Michael Pierce, Commissioner Janie Robertson and Vice Mayor John Chappie. Islander Photo: Paul Roat
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Holmes Beach Mayor Rich Bohnenberger, left, city public works superintendent Joe Duennes and Holmes Beach Parks and Beautification Committee members Fred Heger and John Molyneux ceremoniously shovel dirt at Flotilla Drive and 59th Street Jan. 18. A gumbo limbo was planted in observance of Florida Arbor Day. "A nice specimen we have," Molyneux said of the 15-year-old tree.

Dozens of Islanders gave green thumbs up to Florida Arbor Day last Friday, planting trees in Bradenton Beach, Holmes Beach and Anna Maria.

At the Anna Maria City Pier parking lot, two sabal palms provided by Keep Manatee Beautiful and Modern Woodmen of America were planted.

At Flotilla Drive and 59th Street in Holmes Beach, a gumbo limbo donated by Turner Tree and Landscape was planted.

At the Bradenton Beach gateway near Gulf Drive and Cortez Road, a gumbo limbo donated by Keep Manatee Beautiful and Turner Tree and Landscape was planted.

The events occurred with short speeches, brief talks about Arbor Day, rounds of applause and accolades for the awesome natureof trees. Elected officials, volunteers, parks and beautification committee members and a forestry expert attended the small ceremonies.

Take care of the trees, encouraged Mike Keegan of the Florida Division of Forestry because “planting a tree is just the beginning.”

Trees, said KMB executive director Ingrid McClellan, can reduce soil erosion, wind speed and glare; lower air temperature, improve air quality, absorb noise, increase shade, provide wildlife habitat, attract businesses and tourists, increase property values, provide privacy and reduce crime and vandalism.

National Arbor Day is celebrated the first Friday in April and has been observed for the past 135 years.

Additionally, each state observes its own Arbor Day, a holiday that takes place during a productive growing season. Florida’s occurs on the third Friday in January.

“It’s a great concept and it’s obviously catching on throughout the world,” Holmes Beach Mayor Rich Bohnenberger said of Arbor Day.

In recognition of the holiday, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection issued a call for Floridians to plant native trees but also work to remove and prevent the spread of invasive plants, including Australian pine, chinaberry and Brazilian pepper trees.

“From towering trees to small shrubs, Florida has more than 400 species of native vegetation,” said DEP Secretary Michael W. Sole. “By encouraging the growth of indigenous plants, Floridians conserve water resources, reduce soil erosion, improve air quality and protect our aquatic ecosystems.”

In addition to the Island ceremonies, Arbor Day events took place in Palmetto and Bradenton, including the Palma Sola Scenic Highway Park at 75th Street and Manatee Avenue.

Did you know?
The state tree is the cabbage palm, which can be found in several Florida ecosystems, including upland hardwoods, flatwoods and tropical hammocks. The palm tolerates high water tables, so it grows well in swamps, wet prairie and coastal marshes. On the coast, the palm ranges from southeastern North Carolina through South Carolina and Georgia to the Florida Keys. For more information about native Florida vegetation, go to www.floridayards.org. For additional information about Arbor Day, go to www.arborday.org.