Wednesday, March 23


Lincoln and Middletown among 176 Illinois communities to receive Tree City USA designation       Send a link to a friend

[MARCH 23, 2005]  SPRINGFIELD -- Efforts to promote tree planting and forest resources enhancement during 2004 have earned 176 Illinois communities Tree City USA designation, Illinois Department of Natural Resources Director Joel Brunsvold announced Tuesday. Tree City USA communities being honored for their forestry accomplishments in 2004 include Lincoln and Middletown in Logan County.

Lincoln has received the Tree City designation for four years, and Middletown has been a Tree City USA for 15 years.

"Trees make communities and our state more beautiful, and the Tree City USA honor is one way we recognize the efforts of the local leaders and citizens who manage and promote their local forest management programs," Brunsvold said. "I am particularly proud that so many Illinois communities are honored with the Tree City USA designation year after year."

This year's awards will be presented in ceremonies for northern Illinois participants on March 29 at the Morton Arboretum in Lisle and for downstate participants on March 31 at the Northfield Center in Springfield. Southwestern Resource and Conservation Development co-sponsors the Springfield event. Morton Arboretum co-sponsors the northern Illinois event.

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 the program. Participants are encouraged to consider trees as an integral part of their communities' future.

For more than a decade, Illinois has ranked second in the nation for the number of communities participating in the Tree City USA program.

"Illinois Tree City USA communities spend $82 million annually on tree planting and care," said Reinee Hildebrandt, program coordinator for Tree City USA at the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. "Urban and community forestry is a part of a $4.7 billion industry in Illinois."

Communities must meet four criteria to be eligible to participate in the Tree City USA program:

  • Legally designate a city official or volunteer tree advocate as having authority over the management and care of the community's urban forest.
  • Have a community tree ordinance that specifically recognizes the local tree authority and identifies urban forest management and tree care standards by which the community will abide.
  • Invest at least $2 per resident in its urban forestry program.
  • Conduct an annual Arbor Day tree planting ceremony with an official Arbor Day proclamation.

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For their efforts in 2004, 46 Illinois Tree City USA communities will receive Growth Awards to recognize further efforts to improve basic urban forestry programs. Illinois has been a national leader in this category of forestry improvement. To qualify, communities must have been designated a Tree City USA participant, conduct a variety of urban forestry activities and invest at least the same amount of money in their program as during the previous year. Winners are:

  • Glen Ellyn
  • Oak Park
  • Palos Park

Nine utilities in Illinois will also be honored for their forestry efforts. The Tree Line USA award program encourages utility companies to implement tree care education programs and to sponsor local public education and tree planting events. This year's Tree Line USA award winners are:

  • Alliant Energy
  • Ameren
  • Batavia Municipal Electric Utility
  • Commonwealth Edison
  • Mid America Energy Company
  • Village of Rantoul Power
  • City of St. Charles
  • Springfield City Water Light and Power
  • Wayne-White Counties Electric Cooperative

The Tree City USA program is sponsored by the National Arbor Day Foundation and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources Urban and Community Forestry Program, in cooperation with the National Association of State Foresters and the USDA Forest Service. Through its Urban Habitats Section within the Office of Resource Conservation, the Department of Natural Resources offers communities technical and financial assistance in urban forestry efforts.

The annual application deadline for the Tree City USA program is Dec. 31.

For more information about the Tree City USA program, contact Reinee Hildebrandt at the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, One Natural Resources Way, Springfield, IL 62702-1271;

[Illinois Department of Natural Resources news release]

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