“If Trees Could Talk”… about the day Arizona became a State Feb. 14, 1912

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First Arizona Centennial Witness Tree dedicated is olive tree planted in 1896 by Winfield Scott in Scottsdale

APRIL 29, 2011

SCOTTSDALE – The Arizona Centennial Commission (www.AZ100YEARS.org) in conjunction with the Arizona Community Tree Council (www.AZTrees.org) today dedicated the first Arizona Centennial Witness Tree, an olive tree planted by Chaplain Winfield Scott in 1896, in the area today known as ‘Old Town Scottsdale.’

A witness tree is 99 or more years old and ‘saw’ the day Arizona was admitted as the 48th state of the Union, Feb. 14, 1912.  This first Arizona Centennial Witness tree, located in downtown Scottsdale on a street median on Second Street and Drinkwater Boulevard, is actually one among a surviving patchwork of olive trees that Scott planted to serve as protective windbreakers to citrus trees on the land.  The tree also will become a noteworthy point on the ‘Historic Old Town Scottsdale’ walking tour.

The tree dedication served to recognize Arizona Arbor Day, and to launch the Arizona Centennial Witness Tree Project led by the Arizona Community Tree Council (ACTC) with support from the USDA Forest Service and the Arizona Forestry Division.  The witness tree project is one of three initiatives of the Arizona Centennial Signature Tree Project under the theme Plant Trees, Grow Communities, Put Down Roots.

City of Scottsdale Mayor W. J. “Jim” Lane said: “This tree has witnessed an incredible history. When it was first planted more than 100 years ago, it provided protection and shade for Winfield Scott’s farm.  Now, it shades visitors to Scottsdale from around the world. I don’t think Winfield Scott would have imagined that his legacy – and his tree – could have reached such great heights. Arizona’s legacy is similarly strong and enduring, and Scottsdale is honored to be a part of it.”

Lane, along with Arizona Centennial Director Karen Churchard, ACTC Executive Director Conni Ingallina and Scottsdale Historical Museum Manager JoAnn Handley dedicated the olive tree.

The public is invited to nominate a tree to be considered as an Arizona Centennial Witness Tree by visiting www.aztrees.org and completing a submission form.  Each nomination requires digital photographs and accurate historical documentation for consideration.  Trees must have an estimated age of more than 100 years as of February 14, 2012, and stand within the boundaries of Arizona. Nominations are due November 1, 2011.

The Arizona Centennial Signature Tree Project led by the ACTC also features initiatives Building a Canopy for the Next Century to encourage the growth of Arizona’s shade canopy by inviting communities, schools, individuals and companies to plant trees; and Great Trees of Arizona, which promotes the preservation of trees of local or state significance and considered worthy of protection in terms of history, age, size and rarity of the species.

ACTC’s Ingallina said: “We look forward to hundreds of Arizona Centennial Witness Tree nominations this year from all over Arizona.  By recognizing a witness tree, we learn a bit of history and also come to understand the importance of trees on our landscape.  In the coming months, you will hear more about how everyone can participate in the Arizona Centennial Signature Tree Project and the movement to grow the shade canopy of Arizona. Planting a tree captures the imagination and it’s an enduring way to celebrate Arizona’s Centennial.”

Arizona Centennial Commission Director Churchard added: “If trees could talk.  It’s fascinating to consider that there are trees among us that witnessed the day Arizona was admitted to the Union Feb. 14, 1912. We encourage all Arizonans to plant new witness trees – as a significant way to contribute to a ‘green legacy’ to be appreciated over the next 100 years.”

Arizona celebrates its 100 years of statehood Feb. 14, 2012, and the Arizona Centennial Signature Tree Project is one of several activities in a year-long countdown campaign entitled Celebrate the Arizona Experience.

About Arizona Centennial Commission. The Arizona Centennial Commission, through its nonprofit Arizona Centennial 2012 Foundation, is the statewide board charged by Governor Jan Brewer with planning and implementing Arizona’s 100th anniversary of statehood.  In collaboration with the Arizona Historical Advisory Commission, more than 209 projects and events are sanctioned and planned to-date to commemorate Arizona’s Centennial. For information on the Arizona Centennial, visit www.AZ100YEARS.org.

About Arizona Community Tree Council. The Arizona Community Tree Council, Inc. (ACTC) is a non-profit organization dedicated to the care and planting of trees, and promotes the education and exchange of information about trees and the essential role they play in the well-being of all Arizona communities. The Council is composed of representatives from individual Arizona counties, tribal communities, government agencies, professional organizations and other individuals who have a statewide interest in the Council’s mission. www.AZTrees.org

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