The City of Shelby, a place with exceptional parks and natural areas, was recently named as a 2022 Tree City USA by the Arbor Day Foundation.
The Tree City USA program, established in 1976, is one of the oldest programs of the Foundation. Its founders envisioned a healthier and greener America and aimed to bring about change at a national level.
Initially, the program consisted of 42 communities in 16 states. However, today it has expanded to include over 3,600 communities across all 50 states, Washington D.C., and Puerto Rico. Despite the changes, the program’s participants remain passionate about trees. The goal of the program is to continue expanding its network until every American can live in a Tree City USA community.
Becoming a Tree City USA community provides numerous benefits, including a framework to maintain and grow tree cover, recognition for environmental commitment, and celebration of the community’s work.
To earn annual recognition, communities must meet four standards: maintaining a tree board or department, having a community tree ordinance, spending at least $2 per capita on urban forestry, and celebrating Arbor Day.
Urban forests offer many advantages to communities, such as reducing traffic noise by 40%, cooling neighborhoods by seven to nine degrees, reducing energy costs by up to 25%, increasing property values, improving mental and physical health, and mitigating the effects of climate change.
Demonstrating a commitment to the environment can help build community pride and position the community as an attractive place to live. The program provides materials such as signs, flags, and press releases to help communities share their recognition.
In Shelby, tree preservation and enhancement efforts are led by the City’s Shade Tree Commission. Members come from each ward of the City, and also include a Council member, Service Superintendent, and Electric Distribution Superintendent. The Commission meets monthly each fourth Tuesday.
The duties of Shelby’s Commission were laid out in the 1990 ordinance which created it, and include having “…the power to study, investigate, plan, advise, report and recommend to Council or the Mayor any action, program, plan or legislation which the Commission finds or determines to be necessary or advisable for the care, preservation, trimming, planting, replanting, removal or disposition of trees and shrubs in public ways, streets and alleys.”