Baxter Estates honors tree preservation tradition on Arbor Day

Baxter Estates honors tree preservation tradition on Arbor Day
(From left to right) Town of North Hempstead Councilwoman Mariann Dalimonte, Baxter Estates Mayor Nora Haagenson, Trustee Maria Branco, Trustee Alice M. Peckelis, Trustee Alexander Price and Trustee Charles Comer gather for Baxter Estate's Arbor Day Celebration. (Photo courtesy of the Village of Baxter Estates)

Baxter Estates Mayor Nora Haagenson described her village as one with a focus on its natural environment, an emphasis holding decades of importance in Baxter Estates and continued at its annual Arbor Day celebration.

Wednesday’s Arbor Day celebration drew in a gathering of locals and officials alike who gathered around to listen to the speakers, enjoy some food and drinks and take some seed packets home.

Throughout the conversations that day, Haagenson said, was the continuous talk of the environment, the importance of trees and nature in general.

Baxter Estates is designated as a Tree City, which is maintained through efforts to foster new trees and plant growth in the village. Baxter Estates achieves this through its seed packet giveaway, which they continued this year.

“In Baxter Estates, trees not only represent beauty and a regal presence, they provide shade and a cool shadow from a hot sun,” Haagenson said. “And they provide refuge for wildlife, protection for the soil and also protection from wind and rain. Trees provide oxygen through photosynthesis and absorb pollutants through their leaves. They quite literally are the life and breath of the planet.”

Haagenson stressed the importance of Arbor Day with growing community concerns over climate change. She said the day, along with the village’s efforts, celebrates the planting, upkeep and preservation of trees.

The historical celebration of Arbor Day dates back to 1872 when it was started by J. Sterling Morton – a newspaper editor in Nebraska City, Neb., who took his admiration for trees to the next step by coordinating a day dedicated to planting them.

Haagenson shared the words of Morton: “Other holidays were posed upon the past. Arbor Day proposes for the future.”

Baxter Estate’s Arbor Day acknowledgments came just shy of a century later in the 1960s when former Trustee Renee Greenspan fought against developers who sought to uproot trees to make way for construction.

“And it is said that at eight months pregnant she wrapped her arms around a large tree destined to be taken down and dared the contractor to remove the tree,” Haagenson said.

Haagenson said the village has a strict tree ordinance intended to encourage residents to maintain the trees present and prevent damage from uprooting them.

“It’s not just that they’re just part of the landscape,” Haagenson said. “They really are important. We need them.”

Instead of removing trees, the village encourages residents to prune their trees. But if permitted for removal, residents must always replace it with another tree.

The village has been hosting an Arbor Day celebration for about five years, with the intent to celebrate its designation and continue the environmental preservation initiatives the very holiday is based upon.

Haagenson encouraged other villages in the surrounding areas and beyond to engage in Arbor Day to extend environmental efforts and the preservation of trees.

“We will always continue to celebrate Arbor Day,” Haagenson said. “Baxter Estates has always been one to really promote things that have to do with the environment… it all ties in for us. You must protect the environment, it’s just so important.”

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