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Ohio No. 1 in nation for Tree City USA communities

5/8/2014 - West Side Leader
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By Staff Writer

COLUMBUS — Ohio remains the nation’s leader in Tree City USA communities with 244 participating cities, villages and townships. This marks Ohio’s 33rd consecutive year as the top Tree City USA state, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Forestry.

“Half of Ohioans live and work in a Tree City USA community,” said Robert Boyles, state forester and chief of the ODNR Division of Forestry. “Cleaner air and water, reduced storm water runoff and increased property values are just some of the important economic, environmental and health benefits that come with having more trees in any community.”

As part of this nationwide program, Ohioans last year planted more than 32,000 trees, pruned more than 88,000 trees, volunteered more than 8,000 hours landscaping public parks and preserves, and invested more than $43 million toward urban forestry efforts.

Since 1979, the ODNR Division of Forestry has assisted communities in enhancing the quality of life within cities and villages through comprehensive tree planting and care programs, according to ODNR officials. In 1997, Ohio became the first state to have more than 200 Tree City USA communities.

The Tree City USA program also helps communities deal with urban forestry challenges, such as the emerald ash borer, according to ODNR officials.

Participating communities must establish a tree board or department to carry out a tree care program, enact a community tree ordinance to provide direction, fund the community forestry program with an annual budget of at least $2 per capita and celebrate Arbor Day with a community ceremony and mayoral proclamation.

The Tree City USA program, created in 1976, is sponsored by the Arbor Day Foundation, U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Conference of Mayors, National League of Cities and the National Association of State Foresters. For more information on Tree City USA, contact Mark Derowitsch, of the Arbor Day Foundation, at mderowitsch@arborday.org.

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