Park Forest Named Tree City USA

Park Forest, IL—(ENEWSPF)—Park Forest has been named a 2007 Tree City USA community by the Arbor Day Foundation to honor its commitment to community forestry. 

The Tree City USA program is sponsored by the Arbor Day Foundation in cooperation with the National Association of State Foresters and the USDA Forest Service.

Park Forest has met the four standards to become a Tree City USA community: a tree board or department, a tree care ordinance, a comprehensive community forestry program, and an Arbor Day observance.

"Trees in our cities and towns help clean the air, conserve soil and water, moderate temperature and bring nature into our daily lives," said John Rosenow, Chief Executive of the Arbor Day Foundation.  "Tree City USA designation recognizes the work of elected officials, staff and citizens who plant and care for the community forest.  Tree are a vital component of the infrastructure in our cities and towns, and provide environmental and economical benefits.  A community, and its citizens, that recognize these benefits and provide needed care for its trees deserves recognition and thanks."

To qualify for Tree City USA, a town or city must meet four standards established by The Arbor Day Foundation and the National Association of State Foresters.

These standards were established to ensure that every qualifying community would have a viable tree management plan and program.

It is important to note that  they were also designed so that no community would be excluded because of size.

  • A Tree Board or Department
    • Someone must be legally responsible for the care and management of the community’s trees. This may be a professional forester or arborist, an entire forestry department, or a volunteer tree board. Often, both a professional staff and advisory tree board are present, which is a good goal for most communities.
    • A tree board, or commission, is a group of concerned volunteer citizens charged by ordinance with developing and administering a comprehensive tree management program. Balanced, broad-based community involvement is encouraged. Boards function best if not composed entirely of tree-related professionals such as forestry professors, nursery operators, arborists, etc. Fresh ideas and different perspectives are added by citizens with an interest in trees that is entirely avocational. Limited, staggered terms of service will prevent stagnation or burnout, while at the same time assuring continuity.
  • A Tree Care Ordinance
    • The tree ordinance must designate the establishment of a tree board or forestry department and give this body the responsibility for writing and implementing an annual community forestry work plan. Beyond that, the ordinance should be flexible enough to fit the needs and circumstances of the particular community.
    • A tree ordinance provides an opportunity to set good policy and back it with the force of law when necessary. Ideally, it will provide clear guidance for planting, maintaining and removing trees from streets, parks and other public places.
  • A Community Forestry Program With an Annual Budget of at Least $2 Per Capita
    • Evidence is required that the community has established a community forestry program that is supported by an annual budget of at least $2 per capita. At first, this may seem like an impossible barrier to some communities. However, a little investigation usually reveals that more than this amount is already being spent by the municipality on its trees. If not, this may signal serious neglect that will cost far more in the long run. In such a case, working toward Tree City USA recognition can be used to re-examine the community’s budget priorities and re-direct funds to properly care for its tree resource before it is too late.
    • Ideally, this standard will be met by focusing funding on an annual work plan developed after an inventory is completed and a report is approved by the city council. Such a plan will address species diversity, planting needs, hazardous trees, insect and disease problems and a pattern of regular care such as pruning and watering.
  • An Arbor Day Observance and Proclamation
    • This is the least challenging and probably the most enjoyable standard to accomplish. An Arbor Day celebration can be simple and brief or an all-day or all-week observation. It can be a simple tree planting event or an award ceremony that honors leading tree planters. For children, Arbor Day may be their only exposure to the green world or a springboard to discussions about the complex issue of environmental quality.

The Arbor Day Foundation lists 15 reasons municipalities should become a Tree City:

Becoming a Tree City:

  1. encourages better care of community forests
  2. touches the lives of people within the community who benefit daily from cleaner air, shadier streets, and aesthetic beauty that healthy, well-managed urban forests provide
  3. recognizes and rewards communities for annual advancements in urban forestry practices
  4. increases public awareness of the many social, economical and environmental benefits urban forestry practices
  5. Provides education to improve current urban forestry practices
  6. builds cooperation between public and private sectors to effectively manage urban forests
  7. encourages, supports, and strengthens effective urban forestry programs in diverse communities nationwide
  8. can make a strong contribution to a community’s pride
  9. serves as a blueprint for planting and maintaining a community’s trees
  10. puts people in touch with other communities and resources that can help them improve their program
  11. brings solid benefits to a community such as helping to gain financial support for tree projects and contributing to safer and healthier urban forests
  12. helps present the kind of image that most citizens want to have for the place they live or conduct business
  13. tells visitors, through signage, that here is a community that cares about its environment
  14. sometimes gives preference over other communities when allocations of grant money are made for trees or forestry programs, and
  15. provides a way to reach large numbers of people with information about tree care

This is the third year Park Forest has received this national recognition.

Source: VOPF, arborday.org