Local officials, students plant oak to mark anniversary

May 23, 2006

The Washington County Forestry Board - helped by dozens of local students - planted a tree at the Fairview Outdoor Education Center recently to celebrate the centennial of the Maryland Forest Service.

In April 1906, with the donation of almost 2,000 acres of land by the Garrett brothers to the state and the appointment of Fred Besley as Maryland's first state forester, what is now known as the Maryland Forest Service was begun.

"To this day, the forest service continues Besley's legacy and vision of restoring, managing and protecting our trees and forests to sustain our natural resources and connect people to the land," said Elmer D. Weibley, manager of the Washington County Soil Conservation District.

In honor of this milestone, the county forestry board donated a white oak to the outdoor center to be planted in the school's arboretum.


And, the local conservation district is having signs made to identify each of the tree species in the arboretum.

County Commissioners Doris Nipps and John Munson, and county Schools Superintendent Elizabeth Morgan attended the ceremony along with more than 50 fifth-graders from Salem Avenue Elementary.

Fairview Head Teacher Ed Hazlett welcomed all and Forestry Board Chair Judith Niedzielski quizzed the students on trees and forests and told the story of the creation of the Maryland Forest Service.

Nipps presented a proclamation on behalf of the County Commissioners to George Eberling, local forester for the state Forest Service, praising its work and reminding "all citizens of their obligation to be a good steward of our land and resources."

A small group of students chosen to plant the ceremonial tree "quickly blossomed into the entire class working enthusiastically to properly plant this large specimen," Weibley said. He said Nipps, Munson, Morgan, forestry board members and Fairview's staff helped.

Eberling invited all to return to Fairview throughout their lives to see how the tree was growing and to reflect on the commitment the forest service has made to the conservation of our natural resources.

To learn more about the centennial, go on the Internet to

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