Why Become a Tree City USA Anyway?

by Barbara Gardner

Holliston voters will have an opportunity at the May Annual Town Meeting to support Holliston becoming a Tree City USA.  This national program was created by the Arbor Day Foundation in l976, and 46.8% of the country lives in a Tree City USA community. There are 3,652 cities and towns in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico that have been designated as Tree City USA communities.  The largest Tree City USA is New York City with 8,820,000 inhabitants, and the smallest town is Sibley, North Dakota, population 20.

To receive recognition as a Tree City USA, the community must meet four core standards. The first is to form a Tree Board or Department. Holliston has an appointed Tree Warden who is part of the Public Works Department.

The second standard is to establish a Tree ordinance which assigns clear authority over public trees and provides clear guidance for planting, maintaining and/or removing trees from streets, parks and other public spaces. The Select Board, in conjunction with the Planning Board, are currently working on a new tree ordinance for the town. This ordinance or by-law, as we call it, will be placed on the upcoming MayAnnual Town Meeting warrant for consideration by the voters in attendance.

The third standard to qualify as a Tree City USA community is to maintain a community forestry program with an annual budget of at least $2 per capita for the planting, care, and removal of trees. An adequate budget demonstrates an on-going investment into public trees. Happily, the Town of Holliston already meets and exceeds this standard.

The last requirement is to celebrate Arbor Day annually which the Holliston Garden Club has done for many years and issue an official proclamation to create pride, generate knowledge and focus on the importance of trees.

The Arbor Day Foundation also runs similar programs on hospital and health care grounds and campuses of Higher Education and Tree Line USA which fosters best practices in public and private utility arboriculture, demonstrating how trees and utilities can co-exist for the benefit of communities and citizens.

The benefits to trees are endless. To name a few, cooler temperatures, cleaner air, higher property values and healthier residents. In addition to these benefits and so many more, this designation is attractive to businesses choosing a location and can help in applying for certain state grants. The Holliston Garden Club and the Friends of Trees organization is solidly behind this initiative and hope you will be too by attending and supporting Holliston becoming a Tree City USA at the May Annual Town Meeting.