Tree City USA

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Tree City USA logo

Tree City USA is a tree planting and tree care program sponsored by the Arbor Day Foundation for cities and towns in the United States.


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

  1. It must establish a Tree Board or Department run by a professional forester or arborist, an entire forestry department, or a volunteer tree board that must be legally responsible for the care and management of the community's trees.
  2. It must pass a Tree Care Ordinance that designates 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.
  3. It must establish a community forestry program with an annual budget of at least $2 per capita with evidence that the community has established a community forestry program that is supported by that annual budget.
  4. It must organize an Arbor Day observance and proclamation with a simple tree planting event or an award ceremony that honors leading tree planters.


Public image[edit]

National Arbor Day Foundation states that a community's public image is enhanced by being a Tree City USA and that it makes the community a better place to live and helps attract and keep or conduct business. Further, the Tree City USA signs at community entrances tell visitors that the city or town cares about its environment. They state that it also is an indication to prospective businesses that the quality of life may be better because of trees. It has even been known to be a factor in where meetings or conferences have been held.

Community pride[edit]

NADF states that by gaining and retaining Tree City USA recognition, it rewards the tree workers, managers, volunteers, tree board members, and others who work on behalf of better care of a community's trees. Non-involved citizens, too, often share a sense of pride that theirs is a Tree City USA. This may translate to better care of trees on private property or a willingness to volunteer in the future.

Financial assistance[edit]

NADF states preference is sometimes given to Tree City USA communities over other communities when allocations of grant money are made for trees or forestry programs. The reason is that there are invariably more requests than available funds when grants are available through state or federal agencies. If requests are equally worthy, some officials tend to have more confidence in communities that have demonstrated the foresight of becoming a Tree City USA.


NADF states that presentation of the Tree City USA award and the celebration of Arbor Day offer excellent publicity opportunities and this results in satisfaction for the individuals involved and their families, but also provides one more way to reach large numbers of people with information about tree care.

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