Tree City USA - Requirements & Benefits
Benicia is now a TREE CITY USA
The Tree City USA® program, sponsored by the Arbor Day Foundation in cooperation with the USDA Forest Service and the National Association of State Foresters, provides direction, technical assistance, public attention, and national recognition for urban and community forestry programs in thousands of towns and cities that more than 120 million Americans call home. The Rotary Club of Benicia lead the way for the City of Benicia to to earn its Tree City USA desigation.
On Nov. 1, 2008, about 35 people (Rotarians and other civic leaders) gathered inside the Benicia Public Library (due to the threat of rain) to hold a small dedication program, followed by a photo opp at the corner of First and Military Streets where the Rotary Club of Benicia paid for three trees to be planted in support of our Tree City project. On March 14, 2009, a Benicia Arbor Day celebration was held and Benicia was designated as an official Tree City USA -- thanks to the leadership of the Rotary Club of Benicia. In 2014, Benicia was named a Tree City USA for the fifth consecutive year.
Requirements to be a Tree City USA
To qualify for Tree City USA, a town or city must meet four standards established by The National Arbor Day Foundation and the National Association of State Foresters. These standards were established to ensure that every qualifying community would have a viable tree management plan and program.
- A tree board or department
- A Tree City USA has a forester, city department or tree board designated by ordinance to be responsible for community tree care.
- A tree ordinance
- A Tree City USA has a community tree care ordinance in effect giving the tree board or department the responsibility for writing and implementing an annual community forestry work plan. The ordinance determines public tree care policies for planting, maintenance, and removals.
- A budget of $2 per capita
- A Tree City USA has an active community forestry program, evidenced by an annual budget of at least $2 per capita. The program addresses dead and hazardous tree removal, pruning, planting, watering and fertilizing, and insect and disease control.
- An Arbor Day observance & proclamation
- A Tree City USA proclaims and observes Arbor Day. Arbor Day is an opportunity for publicity and to educate citizens about proper tree care and the value of community trees.
What are the benefits of being designated a Tree City USA?
Every community, regardless of size, benefits in different ways from being a Tree City USA. Reports of these benefits have reached The National Arbor Day Foundation through the years and are summarized below in six general categories:
- Framework for Action
- Meeting the four standards for becoming a Tree City USA provides initial direction for an urban or community forestry program.
- Education begins with discussion of the standards and getting organized to apply for Tree City USA status. In turn, this can set in motion aid from a variety of professionals in the form of technical advice, literature, films, and other assistance.
- Public Image
- A community's public image is a very real phenomenon and important in many ways. Being a Tree City USA helps present the kind of image that most citizens want to have for the place they live or conduct business. The Tree City USA signs at community entrances tell visitors that the community cares about its environment.
- Citizen Pride
- Pride is sometimes a less tangible benefit. Gaining and retaining Tree City USA recognition is an award to 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.
- Financial Assistance
- Preference is sometimes given to Tree City USA communities over other communities when allocations of grant money are made for trees or forestry programs.
- Presentation of the Tree City USA award and the celebration of Arbor Day offer excellent publicity opportunities.