For the 36th consecutive year, Ohio was recognized as the nation’s leader in Tree City USA communities with 243 participating cities, villages and townships, according to information shared by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) this week.
Richland County has one of the highest rates of participation across the state. The county’s Tree City USA communities include Mansfield, Shelby, Ontario, Lexington, and Bellville.
“We are proud to have so many Ohio communities that recognize the value trees provide to their neighborhoods and residents,” said Robert Boyles, Ohio’s state forester. “These trees help provide Ohio’s cities with cleaner air and water, better storm water control, cooler, quieter streets and attractive landscapes.”
As part of this nationwide program, Ohioans last year planted more than 27,000 trees, pruned more than 81,000 trees, volunteered more than 50,000 hours in their urban forestry programs and invested a combined total of $40.8 million toward urban forestry efforts.
Since 1979, the ODNR Division of Forestry has assisted communities in enhancing the quality of life within cities and villages through comprehensive urban forestry programs. Ohio’s original Tree City USA communities were: Springfield, Westerville and Wooster. In 1997, Ohio became the first state to have more than 200 Tree City USA communities.
Tree City USA was designed to encourage better care of the nation’s community forests by awarding recognition to communities that meet four basic standards of a good tree care program: a tree board or department, a tree-care ordinance, an annual community forestry budget of at least $2 per capita and an Arbor Day observance and proclamation.
The Tree City USA program, created in 1976, is sponsored by the Arbor Day Foundation, U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Conference of Mayors, National League of Cities and the National Association of State Foresters. If local communities are interested in learning more about becoming a Tree City USA community, they may contact Tyler Stevenson at 614-265-6707 or Tyler.Stevenson@dnr.state.oh.us.