Tree City USA can bring solid benefits to communities

Farm Forum

The Tree City USA program provides a framework for improving community forestry management throughout the United States. In order to qualify for Tree City USA a city needs to meet four core standards as follows: form a tree board or department, pass a tree care ordinance, commit $2.00 per capita to a community forestry program and have an Arbor Day Observance and Proclamation. The aforementioned standards help to ensure that participating cities have viable tree management programs.

Participating in the Tree City USA Program provides many benefits. It encourages better care of community forests. People benefit daily within the community from cleaner air, shadier streets, and aesthetic beauty that healthy, well managed urban forests provide. Communities are recognized and rewarded for annual advancements in urban forestry practices. It increases public awareness of the many social, economic and environmental benefits of urban forestry practices. It provides education to improve current urban forestry practices and builds cooperation between public and private sectors to effectively manage urban forests. It encourages, supports, and strengthens effective urban forestry programs in diverse communities nationwide. It can make a strong contribution to a community’s pride and serve as a blueprint for planting and maintaining a community’s trees. People are puts in touch with other communities and resources that can help them improve their program. It can bring solid benefits to a community such as helping to gain financial support for tree projects and contributing to safer and healthier urban forests. It helps present the kind of image that most citizens want to have for the place they live or conduct business and tells visitors, through signage, that here is a community that cares about its environment. Participating communities are often given preference over other communities when allocations of grant money are made for trees or forestry programs. Finally it provides a way to reach large numbers of people with information about tree care.

The Tree City USA program can be very helpful to cities. Many cities participate in the Tree City USA program as a way to begin caring for their urban forest, enhance tree management through improved ordinances, innovative programs and emphasize tree planting and care. Annually cities use the program to educate people on the value of tree resources, importance of tree management, increase tree planting and tree care. Community pride in the public’s trees, leads to people taking better care of their own existing trees and planting new ones. Annual Tree City USA events help to generate interest from community organizations and neighboring cities for improving the management of their tree resources.

The City of Lemmon is one of several western South Dakota cities that participate in the Tree City USA Program that includes Custer, Deadwood, Lead, Rapid City, Spearfish, Sturgis and Whitewood. Non-participating municipalities are encouraged to get with the program.

My source for this news article was the Arbor Day Foundation. If you would like more information about “The Tree City USA Program” call Bob Drown at the Conservation Office at 605-244-5222, Extension 4 or by e-mail at