Political Notebook

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Governor revives tree-planting tradition

Gov. Mitch Daniels on Thursday revived a decades-old tradition of planting a tree on Arbor Day -- OK, a day before -- by adding a bur oak on the west lawn of the Statehouse.

"We thought it was a nice custom to renew anyway but it fits so well with the major conservation effort we're making in the state," he said.

Daniels noted the tree has a good spot and is a hardy species "so we think it has a fighting chance for the long run."

The tradition of tree planting originated with Indiana author Olive Inez Downing, who encouraged Gov. M. Clifford Townsend to begin the program in 1939. Downing's idea was for each Indiana governor to plant a tree during his term. Members of Downing's family participated in Thursday's event.

Six Indiana governors and one lieutenant governor have planted nine trees on the Statehouse lawn. The last tree to be planted by a governor was a sycamore, grown from the famous seeds carried to the moon on Apollo 14 by astronaut Stuart A. Roosa. Governor Otis R. Bowen planted the tree in 1977 during his second term.

Other governors who planted trees as part of the tradition were Townsend in 1939; Henry F. Schricker in 1944; Ralph Gates in 1946; Harold Handley in 1957; April 10, 1959: Matthew Welsh in 1961; Otis Bowen in 1971 and 1977.

The bur oak tree planted by Daniels was donated by Cardno JFNew, an environmental and ecological solutions company headquartered in Walkerton and home to one of the country's largest native plant nurseries.