|March 19, 2009 -
In what has become something of an early spring tradition the City of Knoxville has again been named as a Tree City USA community by the Arbor Day Foundation.
The honor, announced earlier this month, marks the 18th year that Knoxville has received the Tree City USA recognition for its dedication to community forestry.
“The Tree City designation is an important goal for the City’s Public Service Department and something we take great pride in,” said David Brace, director of the city’s Public Service Department. “Although the tree planting budget is a relatively small percentage of our overall operating budget, properly managing trees is a top priority.”
To earn the Tree City designation a city has to meet four standards including: having a tree board or department, a tree care ordinance, a comprehensive community forestry program and an Arbor Day observance and proclamation.
Knoxville has had a City Tree Board since the early 1990s when the all-volunteer citizen board was created to develop a master street tree plan for city-owned property. The 11-member board also assists in disseminating information regarding the selection, planting, establishment and maintenance of trees and advises City Council on legislation related to the tree program.
Board members are nominated by the mayor and approved by city council. At least five of them have to be professionals, for example a landscape architect or a forester.
The city’s Public Service Department Horticulture Division includes a fulltime tree crew responsible for maintenance and care of trees located throughout the city’s right-of-ways, parks and greenspaces. The city’s staff also includes long-time manager Allen Graham and two certified arborists, Jeff McCarter and Robbie Corum.
This year the City Tree Board and the Public Service Department obtained an $8,400 grant from the State of Tennessee for tree planting and also received a donation from Carol R. Johnson Associates, Inc., for trees that are being planted downtown. That donation was in support of the Legacy Parks Foundation’s Legacy Tree Program.
Combining those sources of trees and funding with the existing operating money will allow the city will plant about 350 trees this year.
Planting and maintaining trees makes a significant difference in the city.
“Healthy trees reduce air and noise pollution, provide energy-saving shade and cooling, furnish habitat for wildlife, help improve water quality and enhance aesthetics,” Brace said. “They are an important and immeasurable contributor to community image, pride, and quality of life.”
The Arbor Day Foundation is dedicated to promoting the value of trees and encouraging people to plant and nurture them. It also promotes National Arbor Day, which will be celebrated on April 24.