Governor Mitch Daniels today revived the decades-old tradition of "Each Governor Plants a Tree" on Arbor Day by adding a bur oak, a species native to Indiana, on the west lawn of the State House.
"We're resurrecting this program of tree planting after many years and it couldn't fit more perfectly with our efforts to protect, conserve and add to Indiana's natural beauty," said Daniels. "Indiana is now a national leader in conservation so it's fitting to bring back the tradition Olive Inez Downing set so many decades ago."
The tradition of tree planting originated with Indiana author Olive Inez Downing, who encouraged Governor M. Clifford Townsend to begin the program in 1939. Downing's idea was for each Indiana governor to plant a tree during his term. Members of Downing's family participated in today's event, including niece-in-law Mary Jane Downing and grand nephew John Downing and his wife Nadine.
Six Indiana governors and one lieutenant governor have planted nine trees on the Statehouse lawn. The last tree to be planted by a governor was a sycamore, grown from the famous seeds carried to the moon on Apollo 14 by astronaut Stuart A. Roosa. Governor Otis R. Bowen planted the tree in 1977 during his second term.
Other governors who planted trees were:
April 14, 1939: Governor M. Clifford Townsend
April 14, 1944: Governor Henry F. Schricker (1st term)
April 26, 1946: Governor Ralph F. Gates
April 29, 1949: Governor Henry F. Schricker (2nd term)
April 12, 1957: Governor Harold W. Handley
April 10, 1959: Lt. Governor Crawford F. Parker
April 14, 1961: Governor Matthew E. Welsh
April 9, 1971: Governor Otis R. Bowen (1st term)
April 19, 1977: Governor Otis R. Bowen (2nd term -- moon tree)
The bur oak tree planted by Daniels was donated by Cardno JFNew, an environmental and ecological solutions company headquartered in Walkerton and home to one of the country's largest native plant nurseries.
Among other conservation and protection projects:
The Indiana Tree Project is a joint effort between the Indiana Natural Resources Foundation, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Division of Forestry, and the citizens of Indiana, dedicated to planting and expanding Indiana's forests. For each donation of $10, DNR will plant a new tree in one of the state's forests. Those making donations will be provided with the exact location of the tree planted. So far more than 12,000 trees have been purchased since the project launched in mid-December. The first planting is scheduled for May 4 at Morgan-Monroe State Forest.
The Healthy Rivers Initiative is the largest such conservation effort to be undertaken in Indiana. The project areas include 43,000 acres located in the floodplain of the Wabash River and Sugar Creek and another 26,000 acres of the Muscatatuck River. The initiative seeks to protect, restore and enhance the rivers and adjacent land across the state. This will provide important habitat to Indiana's wildlife, threatened and endangered species, and migratory birds and waterfowl. The initiative will benefit the public and surrounding communities by providing increased public access to recreational opportunities.
To date, approximately 6,000 acres have been acquired or are pending in the Wabash River/Sugar Creek project area, and approximately 2,400 acres have been acquired in the Muscatatuck Bottoms project area.
The Bicentennial Nature Trust is a statewide project to protect still more of Indiana's precious natural spaces, announced by Daniels in his 212 State of the State address. The intent of the Trust is to preserve and protect important conservation and recreation areas throughout the state. Property acquired with this fund will become part of the public trust to ensure that the land is protected for future generations. DNR is currently soliciting land conservation project ideas that fit within the spirit of Indiana's Bicentennial in 2016.