Each year, the city of Brookfield celebrates Arbor Day by having a special program at one of our schools. This year, we will celebrate Arbor Day at Brookfield Elementary School on Thursday, April 27, and plant a sugar maple tree with the students.

“Arbor” is the Latin word for "tree" and Arbor Day originated in the United States in 1872 in the state of Nebraska. That first Arbor Day an estimated one million trees were planted. Today, Arbor Day is celebrated throughout the U.S. and much of the rest of the world.

We are fortunate in Wisconsin — and particularly in Brookfield — to have great growing conditions for trees. As you go around our city, notice how many trees we have and all the different varieties. The city of Brookfield has been named a “Tree City USA” by the Arbor Day Foundation every year since 1998. In order to receive this recognition a city must have: a tree board or department; a tree care ordinance; an acceptable community forestry program; and an Arbor Day observance and proclamation.

The city of Brookfield’s Department of Parks, Recreation and Forestry is responsible for all public tree care in the community. The department has three certified arborists who are also degreed foresters. The city plants and cares for trees in our parks, public rights of way, and the medians of our roads. We have a six-year pruning cycle for our public trees. Our arborists provide information to residents through our city website, our quarterly newsletter, participating in neighborhood meetings, visiting schools and answering numerous citizen inquiries.

Our arborists are also involved in the control of invasive species such as garlic mustard and buckthorn. Their efforts are sometimes augmented by school, church and volunteer groups, and by Boy Scouts who are working on certifications — particularly projects for the rank of Eagle Scout.

Trees are important for a host of reasons. They produce oxygen and reduce carbon dioxide; prevent erosion; are a source of food (fruits and nuts); are a source of building materials and paper; moderate the temperature; provide habitat for wildlife; and are a renewable resource which enhances the beauty of our landscape.

As part of the city’s observance of Arbor Day, we have a writing contest which is conducted by our Department of Parks, Recreation and Forestry. The winners of this year’s contest are: Danielle Wucker in the “Poetry” category; Vivian Smith in the “Family Memoir” category; Catherine Newbauer in the “Illustrative Reflections” category; and Mary Buchel in the “Reflective Prose” category. I congratulate these writers and the others who participated in the contest.

The city also has a Memorial Tree Program. For a relatively small contribution, a person can have a tree planted in Brookfield’s parks and public landscaped areas in memory of someone who has died or to commemorate a special day or event.

Take a moment this Arbor Day to appreciate and value all the trees around us.

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