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Tree City, USA

Tree City USA is a national recognition program that began in 1976 when the Arbor Day Foundation partnered with the U.S. Forest Service and National Association of State Foresters to quantify and recognize the immense benefits of trees! Planting and maintaining a local forest has been proven to: build stronger ties to your neighborhood and community, creating meaningful connections to neighbors, cut energy consumption, and even increasing property values.

Committing to the standards of becoming a Tree City encourages the education of the public health and financial benefits of trees!

To become a tree city, your community must fit the 4 core standards:

1. Department or Tree Board

There must be a committee of dedicated citizens willing to assume responsibility for the upkeep of the urban forest. Someone must be legally responsible for the care of all trees on city- or town-owned property. By delegating tree care decisions to a professional forester, arborist, city department, citizen-led tree board or some combination, city leaders determine who will perform necessary tree work.

2. Tree Care Ordinance

A tree board or forestry department—or both— should assign the task of crafting and implementing a plan of work or for documenting annual tree care activities.Ideally, the ordinance will also provide clear guidance for planting, maintaining and removing trees from streets, parks and other public spaces as well as activities that are required or prohibited. 

3. A Community Forestry Program With an Annual Budget of at Least $2 Per Capita

As mentioned before, trees are valuable public assets and therefore require an investment to remain healthy and sustainable. By providing support at or above the $2 per capita minimum, a community demonstrates its commitment to maintaining a long-term urban forest.  Budgets and expenditures require planning and accountability, which are fundamental to the long-term health of the tree canopy.

4. An Arbor Day Observance and Proclamation

Citizens join together to celebrate the benefits of community trees and the work accomplished to plant and maintain them. By passing and reciting an official Arbor Day proclamation, public officials demonstrate their support for the community tree program and complete the requirements for becoming a Tree City USA!

Do you live in an official Tree City?

Click here to see all of our nation's cities who have made commitments to their urban forests.

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