By Lea Johnson
21st Space Wing Public Affairs
PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — Planting a tree is a gift you give to your children and grandchildren, and Peterson Air Force Base has left many gifts for future generations.
In a ceremony outside the R.P. Lee Youth Center April 26, Peterson AFB was presented the Tree City U.S.A. award for the 18th consecutive year by Andy Schlosberg from the Colorado State Forest Service. In addition, the Growth Award was presented for going above and beyond the Tree City U.S.A. requirements.
To be recognized as a Tree City U.S.A., a community must have a tree board or department, a tree care ordinance, a community forestry program with a budget of at least $2 per capita, and an Arbor Day observance and proclamation.
“Peterson Air Force Base has shown a commitment to maintaining and improving the trees that make up its community forest,” Schlosberg said.
Col. Chris Crawford, 21st Space Wing commander proclaimed April 26 to be the Arbor Day observance on the installation.
The award was accepted by Lt. Col. Kathy Craver, 21st Mission Support Group deputy commander. Craver recognized Lt. Col. Mark Donnithorne, 21st Civil Engineer Squadron commander, as one of the driving forces behind Peterson’s outstanding forestry program.
“This award is a direct result of the hard work by the staff in the civil engineer squadron. Your ongoing efforts to design, plant and maintain the trees on this base bring daily improvements to the quality of life,” Craver said. “We are very aware of how much better our environment is because of the hundreds of trees and landscaping areas your staff has created.”
Following the award presentation, kids from the child development center helped plant new trees outside the youth center.
Arbor Day was founded in 1872 by J. Sterling Morton of Nebraska City, Neb. “Most folks in most towns didn’t see trees back then,” Schlosberg said. “The special thing about Mr. Sterling is that even though he didn’t see trees, he saw where trees could be.”
An estimated one million trees were planted in Nebraska during the first observance of Arbor Day.
Arbor Day is now celebrated nationwide on various days depending on growing season.
Trees can reduce erosion of precious topsoil by wind and water, cut heating and cooling costs, moderate temperature, clean the air, produce oxygen, and provide habitat for wildlife. Furthermore, trees are a renewable resource providing paper, wood for homes, fuel for fires, and countless other wood products.