Tree City USA is a distinction bestowed upon qualifying cities and towns that meet specific criteria determined by the Arbor Day Foundation.
In order to be considered for this tribute to green, a city must meet four core standards, including:
- Staff a Tree Board or department;
- Implement a Tree Care Ordinance;
- Fund a Community Forestry Program with an annual budget of at least $2 per capita; and
n Host an Arbor Day observance and proclamation.
Status as a Tree City USA means Cleveland demonstrates consistent “... commitment to effective urban forest management,” Cleveland Mayor Tom Rowland said.
“To achieve and to maintain our Tree City USA designation, the city had to meet all four requirements.”
Rowland explained how the city achieved all four core standards.
One was the Cleveland Shade Tree Board. Volunteers with the board donate hours to protecting Cleveland’s existing landscape by preserving trees and educating on the value of trees.
Cleveland’s second step was the establishment, and the preservation, of the Shade Tree Ordinance. The ordinance was drawn up years ago by Cleveland businessman and philanthropist Allan Jones.
Jones not only help set up the board, but has donated and planted trees to support of school campuses, parks, playgrounds and streets.
The hiring of Dan Hartman, Cleveland’s urban forester, to coordinate much of the city’s focus on trees and their preservation, fulfilled the Community Forestry Program requirement.
The city’s annual sponsorship of an Arbor Day ceremony makes the final commitment.
This year, the Arbor Day ceremony was held under Cleveland’s Big Tree at 3536 North Ocoee St. Approximately 20 trees were nominated for the honor. A 130-foot-tall red oak located at 3635 North Ocoee St., near the intersection of North Ocoee Street, Blythe Ferry Road and Ocoee Crossing, was chosen as the winner.
“This is a real good number of nominations, and they’ve come from one end of the city to the other,” Hartman said.
They’re also some heavyweights draped in bark.
“Everyone I’ve looked at so far has been very impressive,” Hartman cited. “I knew there were a lot of trees in town, but something (the contest) like this will really put some focus on them.”
He added, “Some of these trees are very large and have been taken care of. For somebody like me in this field, that’s really exciting.”
The Big Tree Contest, which is well suited for a Tree City USA community, is about more than just size. It’s also about awareness.
“It makes me feel very proud to know I live and work in a city that cares so much for trees and environment in general, and the benefits that come with them,” Hartman cited.
“It’s about the aesthetics, the wildlife, and everything that benefits from a tree. It’s good to see the City Council and the entire community support this aspect of the environment.”
“The Tree Board is very honored that our beautiful city has received this designation,” said Jan Cheek, chair of the Cleveland Shade Tree Board. “This designation comes thanks to the hard work put in not only by the board, but also by our urban forester, Dan Hartman, and his crew, as well as many others.”
“Clean air, improved stormwater management, energy savings and increased property values and commercial activity are just a few of the benefits enjoyed by Tree City USA cities,” Rowland stressed.
“Trees bring shade to our homes, beauty to our neighbors and neighborhoods, and provide any number of economic, social and environmental benefits.”