On Arbor Day, appreciate the trees

Urban forest cover in many U.S. cities has declined about 30 percent over the past 10 to 15 years, according to the green group American Forests, and that’s just not cool. Literally: loss of trees means loss of shade, more AC, and higher energy costs. On Arbor Day (you remember that today’s Arbor Day, right?), it’s worth remembering the many benefits trees provide. Urban trees reduce pollution and prevent storm water runoff. They boost surrounding property values by up to 25 percent. One study showed that hospital patients who can see trees from their windows stay an average of 8 percent fewer days. The city of Boulder, Colo., calculated that it got a $3.67 return on every dollar spent on urban forest. The lesson can’t be learned fast enough: U.S. Forest Service data indicates that, in the U.S., an area the size of Montana will shift from forest to development in the next 50 years. So everyone: get planting!