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From President Obama to NASA, Americans Are Planting Earth Day Trees
WASHINGTON, DC, April 21, 2009 (ENS) - To mark Earth Day, the top politicians in the country this afternoon rolled up their sleeves and took up their shovels to plant trees at Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens along the Washington, DC border with Maryland.

President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, former President Bill Clinton, Vice President Joe Biden and Dr. Jill Biden planted trees with the Student Conservation Association in a muddy marsh beside the Anacostia River at Kenilworth.

The dignitaries walked up to the planting site with arms around the student workers, who were all wearing T-shirts that said "SCA Earth Day 09."

President Barack Obama and former President Bill Clinton plant trees at Kenilworth Park. (Photo courtesy The White House)

The SCA leader, Amtchat Edwards, said they were planting trees to protect the river and, by extension, the entire watershed as a service project.

Clinton had a fundraiser to get to, but ended up staying to plant two trees, saying that service is important to him. "That's why I got into politics," he said.

The First Lady picked out the biggest tree to plant. "Look how big our tree is, honey," she called out. President Obama chose to plant a smaller tree with purple flowers.

Thousands of volunteers across the country are planting trees for Earth Day.

The Upper Peninsula interfaith EarthKeepers will create the equivalent of a forest for Earth Day as 12,000 trees are planted by about 100 churches and temples across northern Michigan.

The public is invited to an Earth Day 2009 blessing of the trees ceremony at 3:30 pm on Wednesday next to the Presque Isle pavilion in Marquette, Michigan. The bishops and other leaders from 10 faith traditions will plant the first of 12,000 white spruce and red pine trees.

"The EarthKeeper project this year is one where people from across the Upper Peninsula will see tangible results of their earth stewardship," said Gail Griffith, EarthKeeper Implementation Team co-chair. "I hope that congregations involve their young people in their planning and planting."

On Saturday, May 2 northern Michigan churches and temples participating in the project will pick up their share of the trees at local conservation district offices and will bless the seedlings before planting them the next day.

"Our interfaith tree planting effort is more than another conservation project," said Rev. Jon Magnuson, Cedar Tree Institute executive director and EarthKeeper Initiative co-founder. "With prayers, hymns and the blessing of 12,000 seedlings, it's a gentle proclamation of a new consciousness and commitment among our faith communities to care for God's creation."

As an advocate for the trees that keep the Earth healthy, Marcal Paper Products, the nation's oldest major manufacturer of household recycled tissue paper products - brought a grove of trees to New York's Times Square on April 14.

The 34 burlap-wrapped spruce, pine and fir trees sprouting on Fence Island between Broadway and 7th Ave. were the Marcal's call to the public to join its campaign to save one million trees, as the company announced its new Small Steps line of 100% recycled paper products made from recycled paper, not from trees.

"Public awareness of the effects our actions have on the environment has increased significantly in recent years," said Tim Spring, CEO of Marcal. "Since 1950 we've been manufacturing products from recycled paper. Marcal has helped to save trees and reduce landfill waste. This campaign to save one million trees is a natural extension of our green heritage."

After their visit to Times Square, the Marcal trees are currently at the company's factory in New Jersey awaiting acceptance from a local community that will plant them.

Also in New York City, the Randall's Island Sports Foundation will be planting trees along the waterfront on Randall's Island. The tree planting is part of the Million Tree Initiative of the Mayor Michael Bloomberg's administration.

Earlier this month, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack awarded a $2 million grant to create green jobs and restore urban forests in New York City. The grant will create up to 20 new jobs in horticulture and forestry over the next two years for graduates of the MillionTreesNYC training program.

"The MillionTreesNYC training program, which this grant will support, is part of PlaNYC, our vision of a greener, greater New York," said Mayor Bloomberg. "And it ties into our Center for Economic Opportunity's efforts to reduce chronic poverty by getting more New Yorkers working and making sure that work pays."

MillionTreesNYC is a public-private partnership between the Bloomberg Administration and New York Restoration Project that aims to plant one million new trees throughout the five boroughs by 2017.

Back in Washington, NASA, the National Arboretum and American Forests will celebrate Earth Day and the 40th anniversary of the first Apollo moon landing with a tree planting ceremony April 22 at the National Arboretum.

NASA astronaut Stuart Roosa had been a U.S. Forest Service smoke jumper. During the Apollo 14 mission to the moon in 1971, he took along tree seeds from a Loblolly pine, sycamore, sweet gum, redwood, and Douglas fir. After returning to Earth, the U.S. Forest Service germinated these seeds, which grew into first-generation "moon trees."

The moon trees have been planted throughout the United States, but the sycamore is the first to be planted at the National Arboretum. American Forests, the nation's oldest conservation organization, continues the legacy of this Apollo-era program by maintaining second-generation moon trees and making them available through its Historic Trees Program.

Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2009. All rights reserved.

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