As Arbor Day Celebrates 150, NRDs Reflect on 50

As Arbor Day Celebrates 150, NRDs Reflect on 50


LINCOLN, Nebraska – Along with Lt. Governor Mike Foley and local dignitaries from the Nebraska Forest Service and Arbor Day Foundation, Nebraska’s Natural Resources Districts (NRDs) celebrated their 50th anniversary with the planting of two Red Oaks on the Nebraska state capitol grounds for the 150th anniversary of Arbor Day.

“Arbor Day is an exciting time of year, because planting trees is a commitment to the future,” said Dr. Orval Gigstad, Nebraska Association of Resources Districts president. “When you plant trees, you’re adding protection, habitat and beauty for future generations.”

Recently, two Red Oaks from the original 1934 capitol landscape plan had to be removed. For the last 25 years, the Capitol Commission has been planting the same species back in the original locations according to the landscape plan established almost 90 years ago.

Arbor Day Founder J. Sterling Morton proposed “to set aside one day to plant trees, both forest and fruit.” That was in 1872, and today Arbor Day is celebrated each April throughout the United States and in many other countries around the world. Morton said, “Other holidays repose on the past; Arbor Day proposes the future.”

Gigstad noted that extreme weather events, diseases and invasive insects have impacted Nebraska’s tree population, making it vitally important to plant and maintain a diverse mix of tree species.

“Planting conservation trees is an on-going effort as we work to maintain and build woodlands that are aging or dying from other causes,” Gigstad said. “For advice on tree health, species selection and windbreak design, landowners can work directly with a forester at their local NRD.”

Since their inception in 1972, Nebraska’s NRDs have been planting conservation trees and shrubs for windbreaks, erosion control, wildlife habitat and other conservation purposes. This spring, Nebraska’s NRDs planted their 100 millionth tree – that’s approximately 50 trees for each Nebraskan.

Natural Resources Districts’ staff and directors will plant the ceremonious 100 millionth tree on the Nebraska capitol northeast lawn in a public ceremony this fall.

Each NRD program varies, but possible tree program services include planting, weed barrier installation or weed control, and drip irrigation. For more information on cost share availability, designing a plan or ordering trees, contact your local NRD or visit

Throughout 2022, the NRDs will commemorate breakthroughs and achievements in conservation. To join in the celebration and follow the Natural Resources Districts’ special activities throughout 2022, visit and follow #Since1972 on social media.