Tree City, USA

Tree City USA began as a 1976 Bicentennial program through the National Arbor Day Foundation and was co-sponsored by the National Association of State Foresters and the USDA Forest Service. The National League of Cities and the U.S. Conference of Mayors are now cosponsors as well.

Tree City USA Application

Arkansas Tree City Communities

Benefits of Tree City USA

The Tree City USA designation gives a city the following benefits:

  • Encourages tree care and planting programs.
  • Citizens become more involved in the planting and care of community trees.
  • Applying for Tree City USA initiates the adoption of a tree ordinance to advance tree stewardship.
  • Assures that someone is in charge of community trees.
  • Fosters adequate funding of tree care programs.
  • Enhances livable communities.
  • Can help attract new businesses.
  • Helps city officials understand the importance of their role in tree conservation.
  • Provides opportunities for publicity and education about tree care.
  • Helps place trees on par with other city services and benefits.
  • Supports the efforts of individuals interested in the welfare of trees.
  • Keeps alive the spirit of Arbor Day and introduces children to trees.
  • Stimulates both the development and improvement of community forestry.
  • Can win points in grant application processes.

Qualifying For A Tree City USA Award/Designation

To qualify for the designation Tree City USA, a city must meet four standards.

  1. A forester, city department, or tree board must be designated by ordinance to be responsible for community tree care.
  2. A community must have a tree care ordinance in effect.
  3. The community must have an active urban forestry program in place and supported by an annual budget of at least $2 per capita.
  4. The city must proclaim and observe Arbor Day.

Becoming a Tree City USA

The following suggestion will guide your community toward the goal of becoming a Tree City USA.

  1. Develop an Ad Hoc Committee 
    • Potential Members
    • City council member
    • Tree maintenance supervisor
    • Forester
    • Local business owner
    • Legal council
    • Chamber of Commerce representative
    • Educator Landscape contractor
    • Garden club representative
    • Utility company employee
  2. Develop a Tree Ordinance 
    • A tree ordinance must designate a tree board or department and give them the responsibility for writing and implementing the annual community forestry work plan.  The ordinance should determine public tree-care policies for planting, maintenance, and removals.
  3. Help Pass the Ordinance 
    • Write news articles for the local paper the let everyone know the benefits of becoming a Tree City, what the tree ordinance does, and some of the general issues regarding urban forestry.
    • Give talks at local clubs and organizations.
  4. Present Ordinance to Mayor/Council 
    • Be prepared to answer questions about Tree City USA and the proposed tree ordinance.

Tree City USA Application

The designation Tree City USA must be renewed each year. The State Forester in each state is responsible for the program. Each current Tree City or a city applying for the Tree City designation for the first time must submit the following:

  1. A Completed Application including: 
    • Potential members
    • The tree ordinance.
    • Meeting dates of tree commission.
    • A list of tree commission members.
    • An annual work plan.
    • The annual budget.
    • Any supportive letters.
    • Photographs.
  2. Arbor Day Procamation.
  3. Arbor Day Ceremony
  4. Arbor Day News Articles or Program of Activities

Responsibilities of a Tree Committee

  1. Set up operating procedures including how officers elected, meeting times and dates.
  2. Focus on meeting the four Tree City USA standards: 
    • Proclaim Arbor Day
    • Celebrate Arbor Day
    • Annual work plan
    • Funding
  3. Promote tree stewardship through: 
    • Educational programs
    • Brochures
    • Tree planting projects
    • Tree workshops
    • News releases 
    • Assist city officials