The 24:1 Arbor Day Celebration takes place Friday, April 22 and includes a visit by local municipal leaders, a generous donation from Ameren for hazardous tree removal, a presentation by the St. Louis County Executive Dr. Sam Page, and tree climbing.
Seventh and eighth graders at St. Ann Catholic School in Normandy are getting this exciting yet safe opportunity to climb trees at St. Vincent Park in North St. Louis County and learn about our urban forest.
“Arbor Day is set aside to celebrate trees and all the wonderful benefits they provide us,” said Doug Seely, Director of Forestry and Community Conservation at the nonprofit community development organization Beyond Housing, which is coordinating the event.
“Trees are not just for the country,” Seely said. “They play an important role in our health and well-being as urban residents too—and they make our cities look good.”
How We Benefit from Our Urban Forest
Seely and his team have worked for years in coordination with the Missouri Department of Conservation to raise awareness of the environmental benefits of a healthy tree canopy in the 24:1 Community—including removing pollutants from the air, reducing stormwater runoff, and addressing the urban heat island effect. An urban forest also has positive social and economic impact on everything from population density to poverty to high school graduation rates.
A recent tree canopy assessment, made possible with help from the EPA, found that 30 percent of the 24:1 Community is covered by foliage, mostly in residential neighborhoods, parks, golf courses, and other lightly developed areas. You can see the results in your neighborhood on these interactive maps.
This canopy has a clear impact on air quality, removing 33,900 pounds of smoke, dust, and other particles each year and directly improving residents’ respiratory health (for example, through lower rates of asthma). The cumulative annual value of all the ecosystem benefits from this urban forest is $1.2 million.
Local Leaders Talk Trees
During the 24:1 Arbor Day Celebration, two mayors from the 24:1 Community will read the Arbor Day Proclamation to show how they’ve worked together to accomplish their goals. Local communities who are or would like to be part of Tree City USA (an urban forest recognition program from the Arbor Day Foundation) will also be present during the lunch. Beyond Housing President and CEO, Chris Krehmeyer, will recognize our partners in the conservation of our urban forest including Ameren, The Nature Conservancy Treesilience Program, Forest Relief, and Davey Tree Expert Company. In addition, County Executive Dr. Sam Page will be in attendance to speak on the importance of sustainability during this Earth and Arbor Day. Ameren Missouri will also donate $50,000 for hazardous tree removal on private property in the 24:1 footprint.
Beyond Housing hosted two 24:1 Arbor Day Celebrations in 2018 and 2019 before pausing the event due to COVID. Seely is excited to finally have it back. “This is the best day for me in my position at Beyond Housing,” he said. “Seeing the youth engaged and having fun is the most rewarding aspect of my job.”