LeRoy Pennysaver & News

LE ROY PENNYSAVER & NEWS - APRIL 30, 2023 by Lynne Belluscio Last Saturday, a group of over 20 students from school, a group of Rotarians, Linda Lowe and Merritt Holly, the Superintendent, gathered at Machpelah Cemetery to rake and help clean up on Earth Day. They all worked hard and the Cemetery is looking much better. The history of Earth Day began in the 1960s when Senator Gaylord Nelson began making plans for a national day that would bring attention to environmental issues. On April 22, 1970, through the efforts of President Richard Nixon, the United States observed the first Earth Day. The date was chosen because it fell between spring break and final exams on college campuses, and it was hoped that college students would become involved. During this time national initiatives such as the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act as well as the Endangered Species Act were passed in Congress. Earth Day went global in 1990. April is also the time of year that Americans celebrate Arbor Day. Its origins go back over a hundred years ago to the 1870s. Julius Sterling Morton from Nebraska was an American journalist and politician. He proposed a day on which trees would be planted. Nebraska was in the middle of the wind-swept prairie. Precious topsoil was easily blown away. There was little shade from the hot sun and wood was needed for building homes and barns. At that time, most homes were heated with firewood and there were few wood lots. Morton wrote: “Other holidays repose upon the past; Arbor Day proposes for the future.” Unbelievably, nearly 1 million trees were planted on the first Arbor Day in 1872. A few years later, in 1885, Nebraska declared Arbor Day a State Holiday. Theodore Roosevelt, a staunch environmentalist, recognized April 15 as Arbor Day in 1907. The actual date of Arbor Day depends on the climate. In the South it is earlier in the year, whereas, in the North, it is later in the spring but it is generally scheduled the last week in April. While walking through the cemetery on Saturday, it was pretty obvious that many of the trees are in serious condition. Many of them were planted in the 1800s when the cemetery was first laid out. The past two years, during the windstorms, huge trees have blown over and large limbs have broken off. Shallow rooted pine trees are particularly susceptible to the wind. The cost of keeping the trees trimmed and healthy is enormous. The Friends of Machpelah, a group that helps maintain the cemetery, has established a “tree fund” which helps pay for tree removal and trimming yet it is not enough to keep ahead of the necessary work. The cemetery has a beautiful collection of magnolias and they were in full bloom on Saturday. Because of their structure, they escaped the windstorms. In the older section of the cemetery there is a huge magnolia, but it is known as a a cucumber magnolia. It does not have the huge showy blossoms, but it has a special designation. It is the second largest cucumber magnolia in New York State. It misses the record by only inches. There is no record of when it was planted, or who planted it. Interestingly there is another cucumber magnolia in LeRoy, and it is on the corner of Church Street and East Main. A special thank you to all the Rotarians and the students who volunteered to keep Machpelah looking so good. Earth Day