Thankfully, it is both.
And besides, the first — a love and appreciation for trees and all that is part of Mother Nature — is a gateway into the bigger picture, which is our future and the countless generations that come after us. Call it infatuation, if you will, or an obsession.
The labels do not inflame us nor do they blind our vision for greener days ahead.
Some believe trees and economic development cannot coexist, that future growth relies on a community’s willingness to sacrifice the natural beauty — and the breath of life — that trees and vegetation offer us daily.
We believe this is a big planet, that our community is a sprawling one and that our residents want both — an organized, thought-out development plan that is being reviewed currently by the BCC 2035 Joint Strategic Plan, and an ongoing commitment to green, the latter of which was recognized last week by State Rep. Kevin Brooks, R-Cleveland, who had the honor of announcing another first for Cleveland.
If you missed it, our hometown has been recognized by House Joint Resolution 1369 as being the first municipality in Tennessee to earn the so-called Triple Crown of Trees. Rep. Brooks called it a “Tennessee Trifecta Celebration” or perhaps a “Tree Trifecta.”
If the word “trifecta” is new to your vocabulary, you don’t stand alone. To paraphrase, it simply means scoring a major victory by guessing correctly the first, second and third-place finishers in a race. It’s an interesting analogy, but locally it means simply this: Cleveland is the first city in Tennessee to earn three huge environmental distinctions — Tree City USA, Tree Line USA and Tree Campus USA.
All three are designated by the Tennessee Division of Forestry and the National Arbor Day Foundation.
The city of Cleveland launched the impressive string 18 years ago by earning the Tree City USA award for the first time. The honor has been repeated 17 times since.
In 2001, Cleveland Utilities first brought home the title of Tree Line USA due to its commitment to a more tree-friendly right-of-way trimming system which includes a public awareness and education campaign that teaches homeowners recommended procedures for planting new trees that won’t eventually threaten power lines and other homes. CU has funded the planting of some 750 new trees throughout the community.
In 2010, Cleveland State Community College — which we believe nurtures one of the most beautiful campuses in the state — completed the tree triumvirate with the Arbor Day Foundation designation of Tree Campus USA.
Don’t take this distinction lightly.
Why is it so noteworthy? Because it demonstrates the value in working together to achieve a common goal. It shows people are not so different after all — that whether one works in government, public utilities or education, we share a hope for tomorrow.
We especially like the comments made by Suzanne Bennett, the Cleveland State horticulturalist who explained her employer simply tries to make “smart choices” and “good decisions” when it comes to the environment and how its protection is our responsibility.
The city of Cleveland and Cleveland Utilities believe the same.
As does the Cleveland Shade Tree Board, an organization we’ll be hearing more about soon.
We thank them all for their untiring perseverance in preserving tomorrow by taking action today.
Future generations thank you as well.