About 15 people helped plant two tulip poplars Wednesday under a light rain in front of Pine Bluff City Hall to celebrate Arbor Day.


Arkansas Forestry Commission urban forestry program coordinator Alison Litchy said the Arkansas Forestry Commission donated the two tulip poplars, which are native to Arkansas. Tree City USA is a program through the Arbor Day Foundation and it shows the community cares about trees, she said.


“Pine Bluff has been a tree city since 2014,” Litchy said. “The program has four objectives. One is to have an Arbor Day celebration. The tulip poplar has a large flower and that’s what people like. It is fairly fast growing. You should be happy about what you get in the long run. All trees start off small. Success rates are higher off the smaller the tree you plant.”


Litchy said the other objectives are the existence of a tree board of directors, the existence of a tree ordinance, and the expenditure of $2 per capita on trees.


April Layher is a biologist and discussed the Pine Bluff Jefferson County Champion and Heritage Tree Program. This organization recognizes exemplary trees on private property by taking pictures of deserving trees and sending pictures to the newspaper.


“We are prepared to check it out and make the recognition for it,” Layher said. “Our tree board came up with guidelines that follow the state guidelines for champion trees.”


Pine Bluff Mayor Shirley Washington read a proclamation that recognized the origin of Arbor Day.


“In 1872 J. Sterling Morton proposed to the Nebraska Board of Agriculture that a special day be set aside for the planting of trees,” Washington said. “This holiday called Arbor Day was first observed with the planting of more than a million trees in Nebraska. Arbor Day is now observed throughout the nation and the world. Trees can reduce the erosion of precious topsoil by wind and water by cutting heat and cooling costs, moderate the temperature, clean the air, produce life-giving oxygen and provide a habitat for wildlife.”


“Trees are a renewable resource, giving us paper, wood for our homes, fuel for our fires and countless other products,” Washington said. “Trees in our cities increase property values, enhance the economic vitality of business areas and above all they beautify our community. Trees, wherever they are planted, are a source of joy and spiritual renewal.”


Washington joined with others to shovel dirt around the trees. The ceremony included Shaun A. Francis, University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff Extension Specialist of horticulture.