By Darla Shelden, City Sentinel Reporter —
OKLAHOMA CITY – Oklahoma Forestry Services and the Community Forestry Council recently celebrated Oklahoma communities, campuses and utility companies who are recognized nationally by the Arbor Day Foundation for their commitment to greener environments.
Thirty-six groups received the national designation of Tree City USA, Tree Campus USA or Tree Line USA by accomplishing specific criteria related to planting and caring for trees, woodlands and forests, in their communities and on campuses.
“We are excited to honor these groups who invest their time, effort and funding into achieving this national Arbor Day Foundation designations,” said State Forester and Oklahoma Forestry Services Director, Mark Goeller.
“Their hard work benefits everyone in their communities and on campuses,” Goeller added.
The annual celebration, held virtually on March 11, takes place each year in advance of Oklahoma’s Arbor Week, which is historically the last full week of March every year.
The 2021 event featured video clips from some of the communities and campuses being honored, along with presentations from professionals on topics including the health benefits of trees as well as starting community wood utilization programs.
Pauls Valley was honored as Oklahoma’s longest running Tree City USA, with a tree planting ceremony that took place earlier in the week to celebrate its 40th anniversary and a video was shared.
Through the Arbor Day Foundation, communities can earn Tree City USA status by meeting core standards of sound tree and forest management, maintaining a tree board, having a local tree ordinance, spending a minimum of two dollars per capita on community forestry and celebrating Arbor Day.
Communities honored for achieving Tree City USA designation include: Ada, Bartlesville, Bixby, Broken Arrow, Claremore, Edmond, Enid, Guthrie, Jenks, Kingfisher, McAlester, Midwest City, Morrison, Muskogee, Nichols Hills, Norman, Oklahoma City, Pauls Valley, Ponca City, Shawnee, Tinker AFB, Tulsa and Vance AFB.
Tree Campus USA designation is available to colleges and universities that effectively manage their campus trees, develop connectivity with the community beyond campus borders to foster healthy community forests and strive to engage their student population utilizing service learning opportunities.
Tree Campus USA honorees include: Cameron University, Northeastern State University, Oklahoma City Community College, Oklahoma State University and all four campuses of Tulsa Community College.
The Tree Line USA program’s mission is to recognize best practices in public and private utility arboriculture, demonstrating how trees and utilities can co-exist for the benefit of communities and citizens.
Requirements include providing quality tree care, annual worker training; community tree planting and public education, tree-based energy conservation program and an Arbor Day observance. Utility companies honored for achieving Tree Line USA designation are: AEP/PSO, Edmond Electric, OG&E, Oklahoma Electric Cooperative and People’s Electric.
For more information about obtaining Arbor Day Foundation certification, contact Mark Bays, Urban and Community Forestry Coordinator, Oklahoma Forestry Services, at 405-522-6150 or [email protected] or visit the Arbor Day Foundation at arborday.org.
Oklahoma Forestry Services, a division of the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry, is committed to conserving, enhancing and protecting Oklahoma’s 12.5 million acres of forests and woodlands.
Since 1925 Oklahoma Forestry Services has worked with individuals and communities throughout the state to create resilient landscapes, fire-adaptive communities and provide wildfire response. Headquartered in Oklahoma City, the division also has regional offices in Goldsby, Broken Bow, Wilburton and Tahlequah.
For more information, visit forestry.ok.gov.