Saturday, April 14, 2007
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186 Illinois communities honored with Tree City USA designation          Send a link to a friend

Lincoln receives sixth year recognition and growth award

[April 14, 2007]  SPRINGFIELD -- Illinois Department of Natural Resources Acting Director Sam Flood announced March 24 that 186 Illinois communities have received the Tree City USA designation for managing their local community forest resources in an effort to enhance citizen safety and welfare. These communities will be presented with awards on March 27 at Morton Arboretum in Lisle and at the Northfield Center in Springfield on March 29.

Tree City USA is a part of the urban and community forestry profession and part of a $4.7 billion industry in Illinois. Illinois ranks second in the nation for the number of communities participating in the Tree City USA program, an honor the state has held for more than a decade, and first in the nation for Tree City USA Growth Award communities. This is the 31st year for the national Tree City USA program.

"Recognition as a Tree City USA community is an important designation, and for more than a decade, Illinois has ranked among the top states in the nation for participation in this program. I applaud the local communities for their dedication to maintaining a healthy community forest," Flood said.

The Tree City USA program promotes tree planting and care programs in urban areas and calls public attention to the economic, health and aesthetic benefits trees offer. Citizen participation in community reforestation and beautification efforts is encouraged through this program. The Tree City USA program provides support to communities to assist in the battle against exotic invasive species such as emerald ash borer.

"Annually, Illinois Tree City USA communities spend more than $83 million collectively on tree planting and tree care," said Reinee Hildebrandt, program administrator for the Department of Natural Resources. "With the newly found emerald ash borer, many local budgets are hardly adequate to address the EAB infestation facing Illinois. Wilmette alone faces a $2.5 billion impact to its community forest, but as a Tree City USA community, it is ready with staffing and forestry budgets to begin its battle with the EAB."

To be eligible to participate in the Tree City USA program, a community must legally designate a city official or volunteer tree advocate as having authority over the management and care of the urban forest. The second standard is to have a community tree ordinance that specifically recognizes the designated tree authority and identifies urban forest management and tree care standards by which the community will abide. Third, the community must expend $2 per resident for its urban forestry program. Illinois communities expend an average of more than $11.57 per capita. The final requirement is to conduct an annual Arbor Day tree planting ceremony, with an official Arbor Day proclamation being developed for announcing the day of the celebration.

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The Illinois communities of Dixon, Round Lake, Sycamore, Trout Valley and Wauconda are first-year participants in the Tree City USA program. Other milestone communities in Illinois are as follows: five-year awards -- Edwardsville, Lake Barrington, Charleston and Savoy; 10-year recognition -- Aurora, Batavia, Channahon, Glendale Heights, Gurnee, Lindenhurst and Wayne; 15-year recognition -- Antioch, East Peoria, Hinsdale, Lisle, Macomb, Marshall, St. Elmo, Streamwood and Vernon Hills; 20-year recognition -- Berwyn, Bloomington, Des Plaines, La Grange Park and Orland Park; and 25-year recognition -- Chicago.

This year, 47 Tree City USA communities will receive the Growth Award to recognize additional efforts that are being accomplished to improve basic urban forestry programs. This is the first year the communities of DeKalb, Lincoln, Macomb and Savoy will receive this award. The 10-year Growth Award, called the Silver Certificate Milestone, was reached by Champaign, Genoa and Northbrook. To qualify for a Growth Award, a community previously must have been designated a Tree City USA participant, conduct a variety of urban forestry activities and spend at least the same amount of money on its program this year as last year. Illinois' state program ranks first in the nation for Tree City USA Growth Award communities. The city of Chicago, with 15 years of participation, holds the record for the Illinois community with the most number of years participating in the Tree City USA Growth Award.

The Tree City USA program is annually sponsored by the National Arbor Day Foundation and the Department of Natural Resources Urban and Community Forestry Program, in cooperation with the National Association of State Foresters and the U.S. Forest Service.

Through the Illinois Urban and Community Forestry Program, the IDNR offers communities technical and financial assistance in urban forestry efforts. Information is available by contacting the Urban and Community Forestry Program, Illinois Department of Natural Resources, One Natural Resources Way, Springfield, IL 62702.

The annual application deadline for the Tree City USA program is Dec. 31. Southwestern Resource and Conservation Development co-sponsored the award presentation this year in Springfield. Morton Arboretum co-sponsored the northern Illinois event.

Click here for a complete list of Tree City USA honors in Illinois.

[Text from Illinois Department of Natural Resources file received from the Illinois Office of Communication and Information]

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