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For Release: Friday, April 28, 2017

New York State Celebrates Arbor Day

State Provides $300 Million for Environmental Protection Fund

Student and State Arbor Day Poster Contest Winners Announced

As part of a weeklong Earth Week tribute to New York's accomplishments and commitment to protecting our environment, the state Departments of Environmental Conservation (DEC), Office of General Services (OGS), Agriculture and Markets, and the State Arbor Day Committee joined state and local officials today for an Arbor Day tree planting event at the Empire State Plaza in Albany. At the event, DEC recognized winners of green industry awards and poster contest winners, and reinforced the importance of trees for our environment, economy, and quality of life.

"Trees help improve air quality, reduce energy consumption, and beautify the landscape," said DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos. "Today's celebration of Arbor Day reminds us all to recognize the importance of trees, their impact on our everyday lives, and the need to plant trees to prevent all kinds of natural predators. In this year's state budget, Governor Cuomo recognizes the importance and value of trees and natural areas in our shared environment with a $154 million allocation for open space programs."

Arbor Day is a nationally celebrated observance that promotes tree planting and tree care. Established by J. Sterling Morton in Nebraska in 1872, National Arbor Day is celebrated each year on the last Friday in April. Arbor Day was originally established to encourage farmers and homesteaders to plant trees to provide shade, shelter, food, fuel, and beauty to open areas.

For the second year in a row, this year's state budget provides a record $300 million for the Environmental Protection Fund (EPF), including appropriations of $86 million for parks and recreation, $154 million for open space programs, and $19 million for the climate change mitigation and adaptation program. Additionally, the EPF includes $500,000 for Resiliency Planting, which will support stream buffer plantings of New York native trees and shrubs from the state's Saratoga Tree Nursery and private nurseries across the state. This year's record funding will support urban forestry projects, storm water management, and municipal infrastructure to ensure clean drinking water for all New Yorkers.

"Producing the fruit we eat and the oxygen we breathe, trees are one of the most important resources we have in New York State, and I am proud of the Office of General Services' participation in this great Arbor Day tradition of planting a tree in the state capital," OGS Commissioner RoAnn Destito said. "The tree we are planting in East Capitol Park today is a beautiful addition to the Albany landscape, and I want to thank everyone who participated in today's event."

State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball said, "Today's tree planting is a great way to celebrate Arbor Day and recognize the importance of trees to agriculture, the environment and to our economy. It's encouraging to see our communities involved in Arbor Day activities across the State, ensuring continued awareness and highlighting the progress that can be made when we work together for a greener and cleaner planet."

"This Arbor Day, the City of Albany is delighted to once again receive the designation of Tree City U.S.A. for 15 years," said Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan. "Trees increase property values in the City of Albany, enhance economic vitality of business areas and beautify our community. Today's celebration of trees reminds us that wherever they are planted, they are a source of joy and spiritual renewal."

State and local officials converged on East Capitol Park in Albany for this year's event. Tree "price tags" adorned park trees to demonstrate the benefits of these trees; for example, one tree in the park provides, on average, $1,500 in benefits over a 15-year period. Northern Nurseries in Schenectady donated this year's ceremonial greenspire linden tree.

Brad Wenskoski, of Rensselaer, New York, was recognized for his donation of artwork to create the official Arbor Day poster. A framed copy of the poster was presented to him at the event.

The Arbor Day celebration also recognized the artwork of the DEC children's poster contest winner, Sarah Werner, a 5th Grader from Warwick Valley Middle School, Warwick, New York. The forest health theme of this year's children's artwork is Defending New York's Forests. Students from across the state participated in this year's poster contest.

Arbor Day in New York State is coordinated by the Arbor Day Committee, made up of representatives from the New York State Departments of Agriculture and Markets and Environmental Conservation, New York State Arborists, International Paper, and the Empire State Forest Products Association.

For more information about celebrating Arbor Day, contact a local DEC office, visit DEC's website or call 518-402-9428.

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