We think all people realize the important role trees play in our community. Unfortunately many people do not. The Tree City USA. (TCUSA) award program was initiated by the National Arbor Day Foundation to remedy this by recognizing the effort put forth by communities that properly manage their urban forests.
In 1972 the TCUSA program began when Nebraska's Division of Tourism celebrated its centennial Arbor Day. As a result of this great success, the program went national in 1976 recognizing 42 TCUSA communities, both small and large, for their efforts in proper tree care management. There are now more than 2,700 Tree Cities across the country.
To receive the Tree City USA award, a community must meet four standards. It must have:
A tree board, commission, or municipal department that has legal responsibility for the care of public trees and has the authority to develop and administer a community tree management program.
A tree ordinance which identifies authority for public tree management and establishes policies for tree planting, maintenance, and removal.
An annual budget for administering, managing, and implementing the community forestry program of at least $2 per capita. Funds spent for tree care in various departments as well as volunteer labor and donated supplies and services can be included in the calculation.
An arbor day observance and proclamation. This can be as simple as a brief tree planting ceremony or as intricate as a week-long celebration with contests, songs, readings, media involvement, and education programs. The observance can occur at any time of the year. A proclamation by the mayor or city council must accompany the observance.
Communities achieving Tree City status receive a flag, a walnut mounted plaque and special highway entrance signs proclaiming this community a Tree City USA! But the TCUSA designation is more than a flag, signs, and a plaque. It is a feather in your cap that can help sustain or improve a forestry program in these tight economic times.