For the 35th consecutive year, Delaware has been named a “Tree City USA” by the Arbor Day Foundation.
“This is turning into a tradition,” Shade Tree Commission chairman Paul Olen told City Council on Monday. “A lot of cities would not be able to pull off this kind of task, to fulfill the requirements of maintaining the status. We have, and I think that it’s an amenity that’s helpful for everyone in the community and it’s something to be proud of.”
The foundation’s website said a city must achieve four standards to be named a “Tree City”: A tree board or department; a tree care ordinance; a community forestry program with an annual budget; and an Arbor Day observance and proclamation.
Mayor Carolyn Kay Riggle designated Friday as Arbor Day. Tree “planting by youth and adults in the Delaware community may further promote the worthy practice of reforestation and beautification.”
More than 3,400 cities in America are a Tree City USA community. According to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Ohio is the leading Tree City USA state in the nation for the 35th consecutive year, with 241 cities, villages and townships with the designation. The cities of Springfield, Westerville and Wooster have been Tree City USA communities for all 40 years of the program.
The ODNR said Ohioans planted more than 28,000 trees, pruned more than 87,000 trees, volunteered more than 56,000 hours to forestry programs, and invested nearly $45 million in urban forestry efforts in 2015.
“Delaware’s urban forest is a $14 million asset, and contributes $700,000 a year in benefits to residents,” Olen said. The calculations are based on software developed by Ohio State University, he said.
Olen gave the commission’s annual report to council. Among the highlights of 2015 were that the commission completed 28 reviews of landscaping plans for residential and commercial developments that will add about 800 new right-of-way trees to the city. City arborist Doug Richmond and his crew pruned 764 trees and removed 62 trees that were either dead, dying or dangerous.
“Almost a thousand trees were planted in the last two years, which means we’ve almost caught up to the 1,300-tree deficit we incurred due to emerald ash borer,” Olen said. “We planted 27 different species, and value biodiversity.”
The annual Arbor Day tree-planting ceremony will take place Saturday at the YMCA during its “Healthy Kids Day” event from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. A Shumard oak tree will be planted. The Shade Tree Commission will also participate in the First Friday event on May 6. Seedlings will be handed out at both events.
Gary Budzak may be reached at 740-413-0904 or on Twitter @GaryBudzak.