By Larry Kotchman, North Dakota State Forester on behalf of the Arbor Day Foundation
This year, we are celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Arbor Day Foundation’s Tree City USA program. Sixteen communities across the nation have been part of the Tree City USA program since the beginning in 1976. Grand Forks and Mandan, North Dakota, are two of those original communities being honored for their commitment to preserve and enhance their public trees.
The recent North Dakota State Arbor Day events recognizing Grand Forks and Mandan were special. Community leaders, students and the public celebrated the 40th anniversary by planting trees to commemorate the events. Dozens of enthusiastic students from Discovery Elementary School planted 40 trees to mark 40 years of Arbor Day celebrations in Grand Forks. Mandan’s Lewis and Clark Elementary School students planted a Thunder Child flowering crabapple tree to honor their community forestry accomplishments. For many young students, it was their first chance to plant a tree. Hopefully, these Arbor Day observances sparked their interest and a new generation of tree planters will take root.
My commitment to Tree City USA started in Grand Forks forty years ago. I am fortunate to have had the opportunity to contribute to the program and to support North Dakota communities in establishing urban and community forestry programs. The credit for achieving the Tree City USA standards belongs to our participating community leaders, tree boards, volunteers and city residents who value trees. In North Dakota, we are gratified that 67 percent of our citizens reside in a Tree City. Being a Tree City improves the quality of life in our state and beyond. Trees enhance our neighborhoods by increasing property values, reducing home heating and cooling costs, removing air pollutants and reducing storm water runoff from city streets.
Learn more about how your community can become a Tree City Usa at http://www.arborday.org/treecity