Protecting Arkansas’s forests, and those who enjoy them, from wildland fire and natural hazards while promoting rural and urban forest health, stewardship, development, and conservation for all generations of Arkansans
Tree City USA
(**Note: Due to social distancing mandates and health concerns amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the requirement for Tree City USA applicants to hold an Arbor Day event is being waived for the 2020 application year. Forestry Division personnel are available to assist communities who have already purchased trees that still need to be planted. Please contact the Urban & Community Forestry Coordinator at (479) 228-7929 if you have questions or need assistance.**)
Tree City USA began as a 1976 Bicentennial program through the National Arbor Day Foundation and was co-sponsored by the National Association of State Foresters and the USDA Forest Service. The National League of Cities and the U.S. Conference of Mayors are now co-sponsors as well.
In 2019, there were 40 Tree City USA communities in Arkansas.
Arkansas Tree City Infographic 2018.pdf (2019 data will be published in June 2020)
Tree City USA paper application (due by December 31 each year)
Tree City USA online portal (online applications due by December 31 each year)
Benefits of Tree City USA
The Tree City USA designation gives a city the following benefits:
- Encourages tree care and planting programs.
- Citizens become more involved in the planting and care of community trees.
- Applying for Tree City USA initiates the adoption of a tree ordinance to advance tree stewardship.
- Assures that someone is in charge of community trees.
- Fosters adequate funding of tree care programs.
- Enhances livable communities.
- Can help attract new businesses.
- Helps city officials understand the importance of their role in tree conservation.
- Provides opportunities for publicity and education about tree care.
- Helps place tree stewardship on par with other city services and benefits.
- Supports the efforts of individuals interested in the welfare of trees.
- Keeps alive the spirit of Arbor Day and introduces children to trees.
- Stimulates both the development and improvement of community forestry.
- Can win points in grant application processes.
Qualifying For A Tree City USA Award/Designation
To qualify for the designation Tree City USA, a city must meet four standards:
- A forester, city department, or tree board must be designated by ordinance to be responsible for community tree care.
- A community must have a tree care ordinance in effect.
- The community must have an active urban forestry program in place and supported by an annual budget of at least $2 per capita.
- The city must proclaim and observe Arbor Day annually. (**Note: Due to social distancing mandates and health concerns amid the COVID-19 pandemic, this requirement is being waived for the 2020 application year.**)
Becoming a Tree City USA
The following suggestions will guide your community toward the goal of becoming a Tree City USA:
- Develop an Ad Hoc Committee - Potential members include:
- City council member
- Tree maintenance supervisor
- Local business owner
- Legal council
- Chamber of Commerce representative
- Landscape contractor
- Garden club representative
- Utility company employee
- Develop a Tree Ordinance
- A tree ordinance must designate a tree board or department and give them the responsibility for writing and implementing the annual community forestry work plan. The ordinance should determine public tree-care policies for planting, maintenance, and removals.
- Help Pass the Ordinance
- Write news articles for the local paper to let everyone know the benefits of becoming a Tree City, what the tree ordinance does, and some of the general issues regarding urban forestry.
- Give presentations to local clubs and organizations.
- Present Ordinance to Mayor/Council
- Be prepared to answer questions about Tree City USA and the proposed tree ordinance.
Tree City USA Application
The Tree City USA designation must be renewed each year. The State Forester in each state is responsible for the program. Each current Tree City or a city applying for the Tree City designation must submit the following:
- Community information, including:
- Mayor's contact information
- A list of Tree Board/Department members
- Meeting frequency of Tree Board.
- A copy of the community's tree ordinance
- Community forestry program information and budget
- Tree care budget expenditures for past year
- Number of trees planted, pruned, and removed in past year
- Copy of annual work plan
- Arbor Day Celebration info
- Copy of city's official Arbor Day proclamation signed by mayor
- Evidence of Arbor Day celebration - news articles, photos, program of activities
Responsibilities of a Tree Board or Department
- Set up operating procedures, including meeting dates and times and procedure for election of members.
- Focus on meeting the four Tree City USA standards:
- Proclaim Arbor Day
- Celebrate Arbor Day
- Annual work plan
- Promote tree stewardship through:
- Educational programs
- Tree planting projects
- Tree workshops
- News releases
- Assist city officials