Using These Days to Spend Time Outdoors

April 24, 2020
Weekly Columns

Adjusting to the new normal of social isolation hasn’t been easy, and we’ve all had to make sacrifices to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe and healthy. But even though many of us are staying home, that doesn’t mean you have to stay inside! There’s a reason Arkansas is the Natural State, and you can enjoy a lot of that natural beauty from your own yard.

This year, Arbor Day fell on April 24. Arbor Day is an annual celebration of the benefits of forests, and it’s traditional to commemorate the day by planting a tree. As a forester, I look forward to Arbor Day every year! I’ve been working with Congress and the Trump administration on the Trillion Trees Act, my legislation that would incentivize planting 1 trillion trees worldwide by 2050. We were supposed to plant trees at the White House this year in honor of Arbor Day, but that’s been postponed for safety reasons. However, that didn’t stop me from purchasing some Arkansas-grown fruit trees at a local nursery and planting them in my yard.

I also spent some time this week on my property examining the state tree of Arkansas, the shortleaf pine (Pinus echinata, to be exact). I used some of my old forestry tools to calculate the age of one of the trees, and based on its growth rings, I found it was 56 years old.

You don’t have to be a forester to enjoy the outdoors this spring. If you have a lot of property, you can download field guides online to identify trees and flowers around your house. Even if you have limited space, you can grow herbs or flowers in pots on your front steps, take a walk on a local nature trail, or install a bird feeder outside your window. We’re blessed to live in a state with rich natural resources!