This past Earth Day weekend, we here at Phoenix were happy to be involved in Girl Scout Troop 8513’s Bronze Award tree-planting project by having two swamp white oak saplings planted in Heliopolis’ backyard. As part of the troop’s Bronze Award project, they have been finding homes for 20 swamp white oak saplings throughout the Madison area. Phoenix and SHINE’s vision for a clean nuclear future puts the health of our environment first, and we’re pleased to foster two of the troop’s saplings at our headquarters in Fitchburg, where they will have ample space, water, and sunlight to grow and thrive.
The Falkowski family (Adam, a Phoenix employee, his wife Michelle, and daughter Lily) arrived with the saplings and tools on Saturday the 24th to plant the saplings on two locations on Heliopolis’ lawn.
The swamp white oak, or Quercus bicolor, gets its taxonomic name from the two-toned color of its leaves—dark green on top, silvery white on the underside—in the spring and summer. As its colloquial name suggests, the swamp white oak is a water-loving tree most often found in the wild in swampy and low-lying environments with moist soil across the northeastern and north central United States. However, it grows just as well in urban or suburban environments as shade trees, and being a relatively low-maintenance tree which can easily be transplanted, it is commonly used in landscaping. These trees only require about five gallons of water every four days for their first year to keep the soil around them moist.
Trees have profound effects on urban and suburban environments. In Chicago alone, for example, trees remove more than 18,000 tons of pollution from the air every year, and roadside trees reduce indoor air pollution by more than 50%. One large tree produces a day’s supply of oxygen for up to four people, help clean our drinking water, can lower the average temperatures of a city by 10 degrees Fahrenheit, and can reduce a household’s energy consumption for heating and cooling by up to 25%. Every dollar spent on planting and caring for community trees yields a three-to-fivefold return on investment in the form of lower energy costs, cleaner air and water, increased psychological health among residents, and increased property values. Madison has been a part of the Tree City USA program, a nationwide movement for greening American cities, for over 30 years.
Fun fact: Agricultural scientists can use ultra-fast neutron tomography, a form of three-dimensional neutron radiography using extremely high-energy neutrons, to study how water is taken up through plant roots and soil!
The saplings Troop 8513 planted for Earth Day might not be much to look at now, but swamp white oaks grow one to two feet per year and when fully grown can reach heights of 50 to 60 feet, with a canopy coverage of roughly the same diameter. These trees are known to live for over 300 years! Phoenix is happy to look after these trees which, much like our nuclear technology, will enrich the lives of humans for generations to come.
We extend our thanks once more to the Falkowski family and Girl Scout Troop 8513 for giving us the opportunity to cultivate these swamp white oak saplings at our headquarters!