Ten reasons trees are important
In an essay directed to schoolchildren of New Jersey, Joseph S. Illick listed ten reasons why we need trees.
He wrote that trees are our friends because they provide:
- Shade and shelter for people
- Purification of the atmosphere
- Wholesome water (through tree-covered watersheds)
- Protection against drought and flood (by moderating the amount of run-off)
- Food and shelter for wildlife
- Nuts and fruits
- Enrichment of the soil (through leaf-fall)
- Environment for play and recreation
- Wood for lumber, paper, and much more
This list comes from a booklet of 108 pages, titled Common Trees of New Jersey, by Joseph S. Illick, published by The American Tree Association, Washington, D.C., in 1926. The book was written for and provided to the Schools of New Jersey by The American Tree Association.
It is interesting to think of the historic context in which this little book was written. By the late 1800's, much of America's primeval forest had been cleared, and America began to realize that its trees were not an inexhaustible resource.
Arbor Day, on which every school child was urged to plant a tree, was first held in 1872 in Nebraska and was soon observed by other states (on various schedules: occasionally, regularly, and sometimes nationally.)
Illick's booklet, provided to New Jersey schools by the American Tree Association in the late 1920's, was addressed to school children with the intent of capturing their interest and enlisting their efforts for a lifetime, just as Arbor Day did.
The children of the 1920's became the CCC tree planters of the 1930's. Certainly, they had more pressing reasons than the love of trees to join the CCC, such as the need to earn money so their families at home could eat! Still, sometimes they must have remembered their study of trees in school and felt encouraged that their work was important to the nation.
I am most familiar with the history of forestry in Missouri but I believe many forested areas in Kentucky and throughout the South and West endured similar treatment by logging companies and farmers:
Around 1870, the citizens of Missouri had begun to use natural resources for profit. Timber mills flourished and vast forests of pine and oak were leveled, sawed, sold and shipped. Over-fishing of streams was common (dynamite became a new fishing tool) and an almost total annihilation of game turned the land lean. By the 1930's the lumber mills were gone as were the forests and game. Soil erosion and water pollution had begun due to the clear-cutting, slash-burning, and continued farming of slopes. This was the condition of the land when the forest service began restoration in the early 30's. When the Great Depression rolled across the United States, thousands of young, unemployed men joined the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). CCC camps were established in the newly formed national forests. During the 10 years the Civilian Conservation Corps was active, Corpsmen planted thousands of acres trees, built fire lanes, and constructed recreational facilities across the national forests. Much of their work is still evident.
Source: History of the Mark Twain National Forest
My husband's father worked in a CCC forestry camp in Minnesota during the Depression. He planted trees, and he also learned how to cut a tree with dead-eye accuracy using cross-cut saws, as the workers cleared the way for roads, campgrounds, and buildings in what became today's national and state parks and forests.
This is my first submission to
Festival of the Trees.
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the Trees will save the Nation."
in the front of Common Trees of New Jersey)