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Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine

Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine

© Erik Petersen

August 2006

Putting the program pieces together

Who does what?

City forester | Sharing staff
Other options | Community partnerships
Board approval | People power
Growing Amherst's legacy | Growing Phillips' legacy
Growing Appleton's legacy | Have a plan
Merrill made tough choices | Growing Algoma's legacy
Tree ordinances | Growing Dresser's legacy
If money grows on trees, mine are in recession
Tree City USA

So, maybe you've been sold on the benefits of an urban forest. But how do you turn that conviction into a program of ongoing tree planting, pruning, protection, removal and replacement? What does it take to pull it off? Where do you start? Who does what? Where does the funding come from? Large and small, Wisconsin communities are finding ways to plant and nurture urban forest programs from the ground up.

Contents

Some tree programs start at the grassroots level with a small group of citizens concerned about one or more tree issues. Dutch elm disease was just such an issue and citizen reaction spawned local tree programs across the country.

Menomonie's modest tree program underwent major expansion in the early 1990s over citizen concerns about preserving the city's tree canopy amid growth and development pressure. Sanctioned as an advisory board, the group was instrumental in shaping an ordinance that protects existing trees during development and requires tree and shrub planting with new commercial construction.

Menomonie (pop. 16,000) has been recognized by the National Arbor Day Foundation as a Tree City USA since 1990, and has an ongoing tree-planting and care program to ensure that its wooded areas continue to thrive. Menomonie Mayor Dennis Kropp is a strong supporter of the city's urban forestry program. Before he retired as an elementary schoolteacher, Kropp involved his students in planting trees on the school ground and at the fairgrounds.

"Now some of those pines we planted are 25 to 30 feet tall," Kropp says. "It always brings back memories of my teaching days when I drive by those trees."

Like Menomonie, advisory tree boards in many communities raise public awareness and advocate for community trees. Tree boards can also develop and facilitate long-range, strategic program plans and spearhead various other forestry projects.

We make an immense mistake when we think of trees as solely an aesthetic member of a community. They cut pollution, they cool the air, they prevent erosion, they muffle sound, and they produce oxygen. Then, after all that, they look good." – Dr. Richard Leakey

A decision to make early on, is who will have authority and responsibility for the tree program. Municipal governments generally have responsibility for managing the forest in their parks, along streets and on other public properties, so the job of forester is typically delegated to someone on staff, such as public works director, parks and recreation director, or administrator.

City forester

A city forester is the person responsible for administering tree-related programs and activities and the human and material resources to carry these out. While specific duties vary with each community, a city forester can be responsible for planning and overseeing tree planting, pruning, other tree maintenance and removals; maintaining a tree inventory; developing a tree management plan; assessing and responding to tree health conditions; providing input in community development projects; working with volunteers and urban forest education and advocacy.

The City of De Pere south of Green Bay (pop. 22,000) has a city forester, Don Melichar, who oversees maintenance and a pruning cycle for the large old trees as well as planting new trees. Melichar also monitors for and educates about invasive species as well as reviews landscaping plans with developers and architects. The city forester program came out of a step to advance the city's urban forest program in 2000.

"Before we had the city forester position, the director of parks and recreation was responsible for all city forestry issues, but the community came to realize that more time was needed for urban forestry than that position could give," Melichar says.

Growing Amherst's legacy

The Village of Amherst (pop. 1,039) has had a concerted urban forestry program since 1996. Prior to that, it had a village forester who worked for a small annual salary to survey for Dutch elm disease and work with homeowners to remove diseased and hazardous trees.

Students from Amherst help DNR Urban Forestry Coordinator Don Kissinger plant a serviceberry tree on Arbor Day 2006. © Amherst Volunteer Fire Department

The village tree board was formed out of a tree crisis. Many in the community were upset when some maples were removed to make room for storm sewer installation. LaVerne Peterson, one of those concerned, approached the village board.

"I thought it was a good time to propose that we have a tree board to oversee these situations," Peterson recalls. The village board agreed and the first tree board was formed.

In the last 10 years, the tree board has developed a tree ordinance, completed a management plan which they continuously update and use, worked with the Portage County Master Gardeners and other volunteers on special projects, submitted an annual budget, applied for grants and solicited bids for tree purchases and removal. Tree board members are paid a small sum for attending monthly meetings. The stipend makes members feel valued and stresses the importance of the tree board's work.

In addition to backing the program with funding, Peterson suggests involving your DNR regional urban forester early on as you form an urban forest program. Training is also key. Village Forester Mike Hinrichs attends workshops and the annual state urban forestry conference.

Much of the tree board's time is spent maintaining the village's tree nursery. After the village was awarded its first Tree City USA recognition, tree board member Mark Boll learned about the National Tree Trust's Community Tree Planting Program. The tree board asked the village board for property for a tree nursery and was given a one-acre parcel.

The initial phase of planning, site preparation, tree installation and irrigation hookup involved seven youth, seven adults and over 140 hours of work. The nursery continues to grow and houses about 900 trees today.

The tree board also received the 2001 Landscape Beautification Award from the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA). The ISA recognizes individuals, organizations and communities for outstanding Arbor Day programs or community landscape beautification projects that have significant impact upon a community or region.

Another success story has been a restoration effort on the Tomorrow River, which winds through the village. Trees had fallen into the river, the banks were eroding and the view was cluttered with brush. The river, once a popular place to go tubing and hunt for crayfish, was nearly impassable. The DNR and the Department of Transportation granted the village permission to stabilize the bank with about 15 truckloads of rock. Community service workers helped move the rock in to place. Boxelders and willows were extricated from the riverway and nuisance trees were removed from the riverbank. The two-year project involved many volunteers and was completed in February 2006.

"Having so many people in the community involved takes some of the pressure off the village employees to do all the work with limited staff resources," Hinrichs says.

Linda Sook, tree board president, says one of the greatest challenges facing the community today is growth. As contractors develop subdivisions and the business park, she says the tree board is hoping to work with them to preserve the trees and even add plantings. The board is gathering construction information to include in its ordinance.

While all of these projects point to a strong urban forestry program, Peterson considers the tree board budget as one of the most telling signs of the village's tree program success. Their first budget was $2,000 in 1997 but has since grown to $9,250. The village has also received six growth awards along with about $15,000 in urban forestry grants.

Sharing staff

Not every community has staff devoted to urban forestry issues. Tracy Salisbury, DNR urban forestry coordinator in the Northeast Region, says that sometimes it isn't until a huge storm hits a community that urban forestry gets attention and cities start to work together.

Networking groups of municipal tree managers now exist in each region of Wisconsin to get communities talking about urban forest issues and even sharing funding, staffing and equipment.

"The urban forestry program took hold here because of a greater awareness of the importance of trees," says Tim Bauknecht, Ashwaubenon city forester.

That awareness came in the 1980s, as trees in the village created potentially hazardous situations with low-hanging limbs and weak, dead trees. In the early 1990s Ashwaubenon set out to correct those hazards and the village was revitalized under the guidance of a new director of parks, recreation and forestry. A tree board was created and the villages of Ashwaubenon and Howard jointly contracted for an urban forester to better manage their respective programs.

As a result of the project's success, both communities budgeted for and hired full-time urban foresters beginning in 1998. Today, Ashwaubenon not only has a full-time forester but six seasonal part-time staff to help with tree maintenance. Not bad for a community with a population of about 18,000.

Bauknecht's advice to other communities that think they can't afford an urban forest program or forester is to find innovative ways to initiate a program.

"Start small," Bauknecht says. "Share staff and equipment with other communities if you need to, like we did at first."

Other options

Contracting for forestry services can be another option, particularly for communities whose forestry needs may not warrant a full-time position. Some communities have been fortunate enough to find a volunteer forester in their midst. Regardless of who wears the hat, the person should have the time, training and skills necessary to protect the community investment in its green infrastructure. Proper planting, protection and maintenance of trees require considerable science-based knowledge.

For many years, the city of Menomonie contracted with a nearby tree service for urban forestry management services. The company's professional foresters trained city staff, conducted public education campaigns and managed the city's tree inventory – tasks that at the time exceeded the capacity of city personnel. This investment in contracted management not only enhanced the forestry program's credibility, but expanded tree awareness and program support, heightened effectiveness of the tree board and increased the skill level of the city's parks and streets workforce.

Community partnerships

Partnerships are a key way to manage community forests, particularly in communities with minimal resources. In some communities, garden groups, Master Gardeners, and neighborhood groups lead tree planting and protection efforts. Banks have become involved in forestry efforts through donations and low or no-interest project loans. The Wisconsin Environmental Education Board (WEEB) program has many grants to further the education and understanding of the environment for adults and children alike. Many businesses from local to multinational now have "green" programs or provide grants or products to local organizations to build their tree programs. Most utility companies have programs for tree replacement under power lines and tree planting for energy conservation.

Many service organizations do tree planting including Kiwanis, Rotary and 4-H. Nonprofits also provide grants and support. Two national examples are the National Arbor Day Foundation and the Main Street Program. Two Wisconsin examples are Greening Milwaukee and the Urban Open Space Foundation.

Schools can be another source of help. Mid-State Technical College has received grants to develop an education center on the college's Wisconsin Rapids campus. Two demonstration areas specific to the utility industry include low-growing trees under or near power lines and installation of a non-energized power line. A $25,000 DNR Urban Forestry Grant, and $5,000 grants each from Alliant Energy and Madison Gas and Electric fund the project. Over 150 trees and 50 shrubs have been planted on the Wisconsin Rapids campus with help from area high school students. The education center is used for training students, the general public and forestry professionals.

In Rosendale, the grade school is actively planting trees. A local artisan made a plaque and etched into it the names of the students involved.

"The students will take ownership of those trees until they graduate," says Olivia Witthun, DNR urban forestry assistant for the Northeast Region.

Board approval

A tree board meeting brings concerned citizens together to advocate for community trees and develop strategic urban forestry plans. © DNR Photo

Some communities rely on tree boards to develop and facilitate a plan for urban forest care. Residents with an interest in trees and related resources may work in cooperation with a city forester and advise the mayor, city council and other departments on matters concerning trees.

The town of Greenville (pop. 7,200), located west of Appleton, has accomplished most of its projects through the Greenville Urban Forestry Board. This talented group of people has accomplished a lot in a short time.

Steve Nagy, a founding member of the Urban Forestry Board, describes Greenville as a fast-growing community where many farm fields have been converted to lawns. Nagy says the town's urban forest program has been successful because it has direction and a long-term plan.

"It's about the right tree for the right place at the right time for the right person. Picking a tree is like picking a pet. You need to know its personality and how it will mesh with yours." – Joe Wilson, executive director of Keep Greater Milwaukee Beautiful/Greening Milwaukee

Since its formation in 1999, the Greenville Urban Forestry Board published operating guidelines that outlined the board's role and established responsibilities. With help from volunteers and town staff, they have planted over 1,000 trees. Seed-to-shade nurseries at Greenville's elementary schools educate and involve children in nurturing trees that can eventually be transplanted to the Greenville landscape.

Essential to its success is an urban forestry preservation ordinance. Greenville adopted its ordinance in 2001 and the town board began collecting a $300 fee on each new lot to cover street tree planting. The Urban Forestry Board worked with town staff to develop appropriate tree planting plans for new subdivisions.

Tree plantings also are being incorporated into the community's recreational trail. The Yellowstone Trail was the first coast-to-coast cross-country roadway in the United States, extending from Plymouth Rock to Puget Sound. The original roadbed traversed the Town of Greenville. Today, the community is rallying around the historical significance of the trail and has been planting trees along it to help restore the trail to its former glory.

Tony Nowak, director of parks and forestry for the Town of Greenville, was hired in 2003. "Before I came here there was one department that did everything from water to sewers to roads. The town of Greenville is growing rapidly and there is an increasing workload," he says.

They hired out the pruning work with assistance from a DNR urban forestry grant. Nowak says the key to securing funding is to keep projects unique and varied.

"The key to success is to have a group of citizens such as our tree board, that is passionate about what it does," Nowak says. "Their drive and determination are important."

This year, Greenville's Arbor Day celebration garnered widespread media attention for wide community involvement in planting 23 varieties of crabapple trees.

"The little town of Greenville was on the local news for Arbor Day and that's pretty big," Nowak says.

People power

Individuals can play an important role in their community's urban forest, says Jeff Roe, DNR's urban forestry coordinator in South Central Region. Individuals can help establish long-term goals for the community forest, fund programs for maintenance and care, support volunteer organizations and champion community trees.

Roe suggests that individuals can volunteer to serve on a community tree board, help with work days and plantings, write articles about urban forestry issues for their local newspapers and newsletters, volunteer with schools and neighborhood groups to increase public awareness, adopt-a-park or tree and effectively manage their own backyards by forming a property plan to plant trees.

If you don't know where to begin, Roe suggests contacting your city forester or parks and recreation staff. They can direct you to the right source. Or, try your county extension office or the DNR's urban forestry coordinator for your area if you don't have a forester.

"Talk to your elected officials and let them know that urban forestry is important to you," Roe says.

Growing Phillips' legacy
The City of Phillips' (pop. 1,700) forestry program can be traced back to 1977 when a windstorm caused about $12 million in damage. After the storm, the county forest administrator was joined by citizen groups, 4-H and Scout groups and others to replant about 1,000 trees.

Phillips Tree Committee Chair Linda Windmoeller (right). © Don Kissinger About 30 years later, Phillips' community forestry program thrives thanks to continued citizen input and the hard work of a city tree committee. For a small community, the city is lucky to have several citizen tree committee members who are degreed foresters or botanists. Among them, is tree committee chair Linda Windmoeller who has a degree in forestry administration from University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.

In 2001, the committee led an effort to complete an inventory and management plan and then used the plan to leverage DNR grant funding. The grant helped their small staff rent an aerial lift truck to perform the work that the management plans called for including tree removal. The community hired an arborist from a neighboring community to evaluate its trees for risk. The arborist used a rating system developed by the U.S. Forest Service and found that about a dozen trees were at high risk to community safety and needed to be removed.

"It is important for communities to get good information and data to base their decisions," Windmoeller says.

Most recently the committee took on the task of creating a stand-alone tree ordinance for the city. The committee went through several drafts and reviews with DNR Urban Forestry Coordinator Don Kissinger to complete the ordinance, which was the missing piece to become a Tree City USA. Phillips achieved this goal in 2005.

The tree committee now stresses public education. High school students write a "Tree Tips" column for the local newspaper. Tips include avoiding insect infestation, mulching, and Arbor Day. The committee hosted a pruning class that was well attended.

"The key to getting people interested in a tree program is to find those who are civic minded and to catch them at the right time in their lives to get involved," Windmoeller says. "It's just fun to do something for which you can see the results."

Though public interest in community trees is generally strong, this support doesn't automatically translate into support for an ongoing program of tree care. Forestry programs are well supported when residents more fully understand how they reap the benefits of the trees they help pay for.

For many years, La Crosse has required homeowners receiving terrace trees to attend a brief training session where they learn about caring for new trees. The sessions have built awareness and support for the forestry program, improved tree care in general, reduced planting mortality and cut back on staff time for maintenance.

Kristina Skowronski, a former DNR Southeast Region urban forestry assistant, cites Mequon as a good example of a community that supports its urban forestry program by engaging the public. The city hosts an Arbor Day fair with free trees for residents.

"Recognizing the importance of educating residents, the Mequon tree board is proactive and provides the community with information on how to care for their trees," Skowronski says.

When the city crew planted 15 Northwood maple Tribute Trees, the Superior Urban Forest Tree Board had cause to celebrate. In the four years since the program started, 33 new trees have become a part of the city landscape. Superior's Tribute Tree Program was established in 2001 as a way for citizens as well as civic and business organizations to honor individuals and recognize special occasions.

After reviewing several municipal tree donation and memorial programs, the tree board went back to its strategic plan and decided to structure the Tribute Tree Program to increase tree populations on the city's boulevards. Corporations, individuals and families are donating trees for memories that they have of being in a park. The Superior program is an excellent example of how people can get involved in city improvement. The Tribute Tree Program encourages good stewardship and provides lasting benefits for donors and the city.

Growing Appleton's legacy
Appleton's forestry program earns an "A." In fact, since the mid-1950s Appleton (pop. 72,000) has had one of the top urban forestry programs in the state, combining citizen and staff involvement and backing its urban forestry program with the resources it needs.

People of all ages plant trees in Appleton. © Olivia Witthun "Citizens are very involved and we have a proactive tree pruning program, street design and construction program," says Mike Michlig, city forester. "The original design for Drew Street was to clear cut it and the public process saved all of the trees."

Bill Lecker, city parks and recreation director, attributes much of the program's success to community involvement and a budget that supports the staff and the equipment necessary to do the job.

"When we remove and plant trees, we communicate with property owners and send them a letter," he says. "People ask to participate in the process because we are visible in the community and people understand the benefits of planting street trees."

On June 11, 2001, a strong wind storm toppled many trees. One park lost 55 large trees. The city of Green Bay pitched in to help Appleton remove the fallen trees and replant the park. The storm brought the communities together and the park has rebounded with a diversity of trees.

Have a plan

Imagine building a house without a plan. Few would try! Building and managing a community forest are equally difficult and wasteful without a plan. With 134 trees per mile lining the streets of an average American city, a street tree inventory is the way many communities begin developing a plan for their trees.

In fact, the best management decisions are based on facts. An inventory can provide the facts. What species and sizes are present? Where and how many empty planting sites exist? Are there hazardous trees? What maintenance is needed? Are there heritage trees that should be given special care? What's best for the community?

Based on a detailed tree inventory, a management plan identifies and prioritizes site-specific tree planting, maintenance and removal activities within a multi-year timeframe.

A good tree management plan can make the difference between cost-effective, proactive management and costly crisis management. Plans establish focus and direction. They provide the framework for program implementation and a basis for consistent decision making. They are tools for determining budgets and other support needs.

Merrill made tough choices

After a tree inventory and management plan were completed and later presented to the Merrill (pop. 10,146) City Council in 1999, the council members were flabbergasted and dismayed to learn that a significant number of their boulevard trees presented high risks.

Some council members went as far as touring the designated boulevards only to agree that there were some serious problems that needed to be addressed.

"This case is similar to other historic communities," says current City Parks and Recreation Director and City Forester Dan Wendorf. "The trees were older and becoming hazards. People asked who should do something because Merrill didn't have an urban forest program and only had a parks and recreation program."

The city council, public works, and parks and recreation department got together and sought funding to start with a tree inventory and management plan. The parks and recreation department applied for a DNR Urban Forest Grant to pay for a street tree inventory. Wendorf says they first needed to identify how many trees the city has, tree health, pruning and removal needs, and diversity.

Wendorf worked with a consultant to catalogue the tree species and over several months they mapped out what the city had. When they found that Merrill had 40 percent maple on its boulevards they realized the need to diversify. They also found out that of 6,000 trees, about 580 needed to be removed, including 300 that were immediately removed because they posed high risk to public safety. They also found that there were about 800 sites that could potentially be planted. By working with local media and distributing neon-green door hangers to homes they were able to keep the community informed.

Along with the management plan and street tree inventory, Merrill now has a set of urban forestry ordinances that empowers the city forester.

"The goal of the street tree inventory is to get to the point where we can plant more trees than we remove," Wendorf says. "The key is to use the resources that we have: volunteers, DNR grant funding and work with other organizations."

"You are never too small to have a management plan," he says.

Growing Algoma's legacy
The City of Algoma (pop. 3,357), located east of Green Bay, is a great example of how a community can go from little interest in urban forestry to one of the most successful programs in the region. This is due to a dedicated group of people including public works superintendent Gary Paape.

Paape joined Algoma's staff in 1998 and noticed that there was a lot of tree topping and many trees that needed maintenance were not getting attention. Paape went to the public works department and asked the community to tackle the problem.

The city organized the Algoma Tree Committee, applied for a DNR urban forestry grant in 2001 and hired a consultant to conduct a tree inventory and develop a management plan. They have built on that plan and gone on to accomplish much over the past five years including implementing a memorial tree program, offering educational programs for residents and city employees, producing a tree maintenance video that was shown on cable television, planting trees and setting up a pruning and removal cycle with their municipal utility company.

Algoma's Tree Line program is an initiative to replace large trees under power lines with smaller, more suitable species. Tree maintenance under power lines can be time consuming and costly. Paape used dollar figures to show that maintaining large trees over time was more expensive than removing them and replacing them with smaller species. He estimates that the cost savings in labor and equipment through the Tree Line program could be as much as $400 per tree. He says the best way to sell a community on a tree program is to show its value.

"When you have a tree program you are not just paying a tax bill, you are getting something of value in return that you can actually see makes a difference," Paape says. "Each community is different, but I can now go through a community and tell you from looking around which one has a tree program and which one doesn't."

Tree ordinances

Why have tree ordinances? Tree ordinances are tools to help communities achieve goals. Matters pertaining to tree damage, health and safety, and general welfare are often best codified in an ordinance. Tree ordinances are not new. The first is believed to have been enacted in 1807 when a Detroit ordinance specified tree planting along the city's streets. Tree ordinances provide authorization and standards for management activities.

The effectiveness of a tree ordinance is influenced by many factors. The key is to write an ordinance simply, clearly and tailored to the community's needs. An ordinance that works well in one community may be unworkable in another. Do the residents support or oppose various ordinance provisions, or are they even aware of them? Is there sufficient capacity to enforce the ordinance? Does the ordinance account for environmental limitations that affect tree health, growth and survival? Does the local government have the financial resources to fulfill ordinance requirements? Since the answers to these questions will vary from place to place, even very similar ordinances can have quite different outcomes in different communities.

Visit International Society of Arboriculture.

Growing Dresser's legacy
The welcome sign to the village of Dresser tells a story. Small communities can have tree programs. In fact, this village of 750 people has been a Tree City USA since 1998 and, as a very small community, is one of the greatly underrepresented in the mix of Wisconsin communities with tree programs.

© Cindy Casey Urban forestry's impact and appeal extends to small communities like this where the village clerk and public works department partnered with a local utility (Northern States Power, now Xcel Energy), volunteers, and a DNR urban forestry coordinator to form a tree board, conduct a tree inventory, develop and adopt a tree ordinance and management plan, replace trees, develop a tree care brochure and annually celebrate Arbor Day. Urban forestry is now a distinguishing characteristic of this small rural village.

Dan Nord, of the village's public works department, says that because it is so small, the village relies on residents to help. Residents are trained in proper tree maintenance and the village hosts spring and fall clean ups. Brush is regularly chipped on site and made available for free as mulch at the public works building.

"We received a grant from the DNR and from Xcel Energy to remove high trees out of the power lines and then replant low-growth trees," Nord says. Residents helped choose trees to replant on their property.

If money grows on trees, mine are in recession

Tree care costs money but it's an investment that pays back over time. Community trees are a local responsibility, but federal and state assistance is available to help plant trees and establish community forestry programs.

American Forests suggests that 20 percent of an urban forestry budget should be directed at planting and early care. A program of pruning young trees is a wise long-term investment. It is estimated that municipalities with forestry programs spend between $8 and $11 per tree each year. However, the total value of the nation's street trees is estimated at $30 billion. Communities must find ways to balance income with the cost of tree care.

From local donations to state and federal grants, money is available to fund community forestry. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) helps victims of natural disasters. The key to collecting from FEMA to replace lost trees is to prove that your community regularly maintained its trees and replaced them under normal circumstances.

State government can help. The obvious candidate here is the DNR with its urban forestry grants but the departments of Transportation and Corrections (inmates or those sentenced to community service), and local fire and police departments are sources of labor or grants. Check with your county extension office for additional grants and volunteer sources.

Local funding might come from taxes, local tree trusts, municipal utility bill donations, memorials and cost-sharing. Consider including tree planting as part of infrastructure improvement projects such as street and road improvement. In some areas, money from recycling programs is used to purchase trees.

Appleton has become creative when it comes to funding. For Arbor Day, it hosted a tree planting at the local sports complex. A $5 surcharge per player was put on the Babe Ruth teams and they were able to raise enough money to plant 20 trees.

Greening Milwaukee is a nonprofit that shows people how easy it can be to plant trees and shares information on the positive effect of trees in the urban environment. Greening Milwaukee has received innovative funding that includes an Adopt-A-Tree Initiative, Mayor's Landscape Awards, Tree Gift Program, Greening Milwaukee Schools program and volunteer opportunities. Visit Greening Milwaukee.

Tree City USA
Since 1976, Tree City USA has been a catalyst for community tree care and a powerful force for promoting urban forestry. This program, sponsored by the National Arbor Day Foundation and administered in Wisconsin by the DNR, provides communities with a tangible goal and national recognition for their community forestry efforts. Today, over 3,000 communities fly Tree City USA flags over areas that house over 93 million Americans. Wisconsin has over 160 Tree City USAs, ranking it third in the nation!

Students from New Glarus High School helped the city become a Tree City USA. © Jeff Roe At the heart of the Tree City USA program are four basic requirements. The community must have: a tree board or department, an annual community forestry program backed by an expenditure of at least $2 per capita for trees and tree care, an annual Arbor Day proclamation and observance, and a tree care ordinance. In addition, communities that have achieved Tree City USA certification can strive for a growth award that recognizes effort over and above the four standards. Typically around 25 Wisconsin communities achieve this commendation each year.

On May 10, 1990, Waukesha experienced a late-season snow storm that damaged 60 percent of the city street trees. The city's finance committee used emergency funds to restore and repair the trees. City Forester David Liska says that the fact that Waukesha is a Tree City USA was a tremendous influence in securing the support for the necessary repairs and the continuation of Waukesha's urban forestry programs.