Friday, April 30 is Arbor Day! Boston’s Franklin Park, which boasts many very lovely trees, is celebrating Arbor day with a tree-climbing contest. Alas, the contest appears to be limited to professional arborists, not amateur enthusiasts, so children need not apply. Landlubbers of all ages and children playing hooky from school can enjoy a variety of tree-centered activities from 8 am-3pm

Arbor Day originated in 1872 Nebraska, a state not known for its forests. To quote Wikipedia, “In the 1860s, the first great wave of homesteaders poured into Nebraska to claim free land granted by the federal government. Many of the first farm settlers built their homes of sod because there were so few trees on the prairies.” Perhaps the situation has improved somewhat in the last 138 years of observances.

In other park news, the Boston Parks and Recreations Department is retiring its horses due to budget cuts; the City of Boston disbanded its own mounted police division last year. According to the Boston Herald, the mounted park patrols were saved last year by energetic fundraising by the Emerald Necklace Conservancy, which convinced private donors to contribute $140K to keep the riders on the range (well, the Boston  Common.)  The horses are useful for patrolling parks where there’s no pavement or paths, according to Christine Poff of the Franklin Park Coalition– although I imagine they need a fair bit of headroom.

The Boston Herald states, “The Boston Parks and Recreation Department, facing a $75,000 tab for caring for its horses, has decided to give the nags pink slips rather than layoff rangers, said spokeswoman Mary Hines.” Much as I enjoy the image of riderless horses patrolling the Public Garden by themselves, I think Parks and Recreation made the right choice.

Will park safety be affected?  Will rangers start running ruts into the Riverway on mountain bikes? How much money will Boston save by not having to pick up horse manure in the parks? How long have there been horse patrols in these parks anyway, and have they been discontinued before? Gentle readers, I do not know.