Apalachicola celebrated Arbor Day on Oct. 14, planting three bald cypress trees near the Scipio Creek Boat Basin.

The Apalachicola Tree Committee partnered with the Farmers Market to highlight the city’s magnificent trees and distributing information on the benefits of urban trees.

In his remarks before the tree planting, Apalachicola Mayor Van Johnson acknowledged the work of the tree committee, along with City Commissioner Anita Grove, who formerly chaired the committee. Also on the committee are chairman Dennis Winterringer, and Bob Seaborn, with Code Enforcement Officer Wilbur Bellew serving as advisor.

In his remarks, Johnson began by noting that “the Scriptures tell us that in the beginning, the Lord God placed humanity in stewardship over His creation, which includes the ecosystem that our trees are an integral part. With that God given stewardship, comes the responsibility to manage and preserve what has been placed under our solemn care.

“We celebrate the fact that the Lord God has placed such a beautiful, tapestry of colorful trees with interesting shapes and forms that change throughout the year within His creation, for us not only to enjoy, but also to provide shade to cool us, and produce oxygen needed to sustain our lives,” said the mayor.

“Trees clean the air by intercepting airborne particulates, which cause serious respiratory problems that can result in hospitalization, especially in children. Tree leaves, their stems and twigs trap and filter the particulates, which enhances our community’s respiratory health,” Johnson said.

“Access to trees, green spaces, and parks promotes greater physical activity, and reduces stress, while improving the quality of life within our community,” he said.

Johnson noted that trees help to reduce the overall concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, and are known to be natural air conditioners. “The evaporation from one single tree can produce the cooling effect of 10 room-size, residential air conditioner units operating 20-hours a day,” he said.

Trees promote beneficial water quality by reducing stormwater runoff through filtration and retention, and can intercept millions of gallons of rainwater within roots, he said.

He said in addition to providing bird and animal habitat, trees have an economic benefit by creating a healthy tree-cover that attracts new residents, industry, and commercial activity.

“Homes landscaped with trees sell more quickly and are worth 5 to 15 percent more than homes without trees and where the entire street is tree-lined, homes may be worth 25 percent more,” he said. “Where a canopy of trees exists, apartments and offices rent more quickly and have a higher occupancy rate and workers report more productivity and less absenteeism.”

The mayor also stressed that trees provide cool areas for recreation, and can screen unattractive views and soften the harsh outline of masonry, metal, asphalt, steel and glass.

“People walk and jog more on shaded streets, which not only encourages interaction with neighbors and improve the sense of community, but also strengthen communities and provide social, psychological, and aesthetic benefits,” he said. “Trees also absorb and block sound, reducing noise pollution by as much as 40 percent.”

The tree committee, together with the Apalachicola National Estuarine Research Reserve, provided free information on Bay-Friendly Landscaping. Sam Hand and Ed Duke with FAMU had a display on tree pruning and give demonstrations on how to properly prune trees.

Know of a large and or unusual tree? The Tree Committee is creating a map of special trees for the city. To add a tree to the map, bring a photo of the tree, the location and the measurement of the diameter of the trunk, and we will add it to the city-wide map of large or unique trees.

For more information contact Grove at Anita.Grove@dep.state.fl.us or 670-7708.