Teach the Value of a Tree!
On Iowa Trees and Forests Day, trees have large price tags hanging on their trunks, and former President Andrew Jackson’s face is symbolically replaced by an old hickory tree on novelty $20 dollar bills. The price tags and novelty bills will be explained during a rally in the Iowa Capitol’s Rotunda on Thursday, March 21, at 9:30 a.m.
“Many of us were taught as children the value of a dollar. Imagine a world where we also teach our children the value of a tree,” said Trees Forever Program Development and Innovation Director Leslie Berckes. “Since money talks in politics, we want to hand every lawmaker an ‘Old Hickory Jackson’ as a reminder that Iowans value trees. We’re here to educate lawmakers and the public on the important benefits trees and forests provide us.”
Former President Andrew Jackson was nicknamed “Old Hickory,” and since his face is on the $20 bill, Trees Forever is using the novelty “Old Hickory Jackson” bills as a tool to demonstrate that a tree has both monetary and intrinsic value. Advocates hope that this tool as well as giant price tags hanging on eight trees outside the Capitol will showcase their point.
The dollar amounts on the “Old Hickory Jackson” and price tags were calculated by Berckes using i-Tree Design software.
“If you parked near the Liberty Bell Memorial, you would see a large bur oak valued at $26,615,” explained Berckes. “That monetary value comes from savings as the tree intercepts stormwater runoff, improves air quality, and reduces carbon dioxide.”
Iowa Trees and Forests Day is an advocacy day organized by the Coalition for Iowa’s Woodlands and Trees. The Coalition includes Trees Forever, Iowa Woodland Owners Association, Iowa Nut Growers, Iowa Tree Farm Committee, the Iowa Urban Tree Council and Trout Unlimited.
The Coalition for Iowa’s Woodlands and Trees is pushing for a $2 million forest health line item in the 2019 Iowa budget. The $2 million would go toward the Woodland Health Initiative to replant and restore Iowa’s trees and forests by providing grants, technical assistance, and education to an additional 75-100 Iowa communities. Currently, Governor Kim Reynolds’ budget has $500,000 allocated to the line item, and tree advocates are asking lawmakers to protect that $500,000, if not increase it.
“We want to emphasize to lawmakers that we can’t afford to keep cutting funding to help Iowa’s trees and forests,” Trees Forever CEO and Founding President Shannon Ramsay said. “Last year, Iowa’s energy efficiency tree planting programs were severely cut following changes to Iowa law. Some of these programs are functioning at roughly 40 percent of what they were last year, and other utilities completely cut their programs. With emerald ash borer in more than half of Iowa’s counties, our tree populations are going down, and we’re not able to keep up with replanting efforts at the rate that trees are dying.”
Spread the word on social media! #ValueTrees
If you see one of these trees, please take a photo and share it on social media with #ValueTrees. Let’s make some noise on social media and speak for the trees!