The Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) announced recently that Branford and New Canaan join 17 other communities in Connecticut as Tree City USA’s for 2010. This is a national designation, created by the Arbor Day Foundation in Nebraska, as a means of honoring those cities and towns who have demonstrated a commitment to maintaining the local urban forest and tree canopy cover.
The two communities that have been Tree City USA’s the longest are Fairfield and Stamford, each which has been a Tree City for 23 years.
DEP Commissioner Daniel C. Esty said, “The Tree City USA designation helps communities manage their tree resources, and also shows visitors, and potential homeowners and businesses that the community cares about the environment. This national designation increases public awareness of the many social, economical, and environmental benefits urban forestry provides.”
The community must demonstrate to the State Forester that it does meet these standards. The State Forester then sends his recommendation on to the Arbor Day Foundation.
To become a Tree City USA, a community has to meet each of four standards established by the Arbor Day Foundation:
* Standard I: A Tree Board or Department
* Standard 2: A Community Tree Ordinance
* Standard 3: A Community Forestry Program with an Annual Budget of at Least $2 Per Capita
* Standard 4: An Arbor Day Observance and Proclamation
Once a Tree City USA, communities need to reapply each year in order to retain that distinction.
The nineteen Tree City USA’s, with number of years in parentheses, are:
East Hartford (15)
New Canaan (new)
New Haven (3)
West Haven (2)
In addition to the 19 Tree City USA’s, 4 of these have earned Growth Awards for going beyond the minimum needed to qualify as a Tree City. These communities are Danbury, New Haven, Norwalk and Wethersfield. Communities may receive a Growth Award for educational outreach or providing additional training to the Tree Care staff.
The Tree City USA designation is largely seen as an indication of leadership on the part of the community being honored. These communities, which are of all sizes and are found throughout the state, can serve as models for other communities in Connecticut as they work to advance their urban forestry programs.