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Tree City USA: A Foundation For Better Tree Care

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Published on: Sep. 2, 1997

Last revision: Oct. 27, 2010

USA, a town or city must meet four standards established by the National Arbor Day Foundation and its cooperators. These standards are designed to ensure that every community to reach Tree City USA distinction has an established, viable tree management program and plan. Yet the standards are obtainable by communities of any size.

Standard 1: A Tree Board or Department

Most Missouri communities have lots of trees, a large portion of which are located on public property, such as street rights-of-way, parks and the grounds surrounding public buildings. Someone must be legally responsible for the care and management of these community trees. This someone could be a professional forester, an arborist or a volunteer tree board. A tree board is a group of concerned citizens charged by ordinance to develop and administer a comprehensive tree management program for their community.

A tree board can generate broad-based community involvement that is essential to a successful community forestry program. Mary Alice Reinhardt is president of Centralia's tree board. "With the support of city government, civic organizations, schools and volunteers," says Reinhardt, "the tree board has raised awareness of the overall importance of trees to our community; people take trees for granted and must be awakened to the necessity of trees for good living. Tree City USA has helped open eyes in Centralia.

Standard 2: A Community Tree Ordinance

A community tree ordinance needs to designate the tree board or department responsible for writing and implementing the annual community forestry work plan. An ordinance also should establish policies for tree planting, maintenance and removal of trees located on city property. Beyond these components, a municipal tree ordinance should remain flexible enough to meet the particular needs and concerns of an individual community.

Standard 3: A Community Forestry Program with an annual budget of at least $2 per capita

This standard may at first seem like an impossible barrier to some communities interested in obtaining Tree City USA status. However, a close investigation of a city or town's budget usually reveals that this amount is already being spent by the community on its trees. Qualifying expenditures include such items as city workers' salaries when they are caring for or dealing with problems that arise from community trees, dead tree removal, leaf and brush pick-up, tree planting, equipment purchases, equipment rental or maintenance, mulching, pruning, care of storm damaged trees, stump removal, biomass recycling and

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