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Updated: January 3, 2022 @ 5:41 am
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WEST NEWBURY — Achieving Tree City USA status lets residents and visitors know the town is a community that cares about its trees, Tree Committee Chair Fred Chanania told the Select Board recently when making the case for applying to the national program.
Tree City USA is open to communities of all sizes that make a commitment to planting, maintaining and managing trees.
The initiative, sponsored by the Arbor Day Foundation and administered by the state, offers communities a four-step framework to benefit their trees.
“The most important thing is that we get recognition as being supportive of our trees and forestry,” Chanania said. The board unanimously agreed to endorse the application.
Similar to a Green Community designation – which West Newbury earned in 2013 thanks to the efforts of the Energy Advisory Committee – the town must meet several criteria before earning a Tree City designation. The committee has been working toward this goal for a while, Chanania said.
A community seeking Tree City recognition must establish a tree board, department or voluntary committee to oversee the community’s annual work plan.
It must adopt a tree care ordinance to guide policies for planting, maintaining and removing public trees. Adopting MGL Chapter 87 is acceptable.
The town needs to establish a minimum community forestry annual budget of $2 per capita. The funding would cover tasks such as planting, tree removal and maintenance; administrative and equipment expenses; and in-kind services.
On or about the last Friday in April, town officials and other residents should hold Arbor Day observations. Planting trees and celebrating “the gifts community trees offer all year long” are also encouraged. An official Select Board proclamation is also required.
Tree City communities have access to grants that help with the development of useful resources such as management plans, tree surveys and inventories. They receive a special flag, road signs, and a plaque to inform the public of the town’s Tree City USA status.
Recognized communities are invited to attend an annual forum and ceremony where awards are presented. Tree City USA municipalities receive preference when applying for funding from the state’s Urban and Community Forestry Program at the Department of Conservation and Recreation, the website states.
There are more than 3,200 Tree City USA communities nationwide. Lynnfield, Newburyport and Saugus are other North Shore communities that have achieved this status.
“Is there a fee associated with the application?” Select Board member Wendy Reed asked. “No,” Chanania replied, after which the board voted in favor of the plan.
“I’ve worked in Tree Cities before – including my last job. I think it’s a great program,” Town Manager Angus Jennings said.
Residents with ideas for protecting the town’s tree cover and forestry are invited to share their thoughts and suggestions with the Tree Committee at firstname.lastname@example.org
The West Newbury Tree Committee was established in August 2019.
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