Meet the Largest Tree City USA Community

More than 135 million residents in 3,400 communities across America and Puerto Rico call their home a Tree City USA. Tree City USA is a program of the Arbor Day Foundation that provides the framework for communities to manage and improve the care of public trees.

NYCFor 19 years the 8.4 million residents of New York, New York have called their home a Tree City USA, earning recognition as early as 1983 and spanning to 2014.

Locals and tourists of New York City can appreciate the beauty of the five million trees found throughout city by relishing a scenic bike ride or strolling along any number of parks.

Despite being an influential center of art, culture and finance, New York City is comprised of more than 11,000 acres of parkland—equating to 40% of the city—demonstrating that it places importance on community forestry as much as its other attractions.

But it doesn’t stop there. New York City continues to grow its community forest through initiatives such as MillionTreesNYC—a campaign launched in 2007 aimed at planting one million trees by 2017. Approximately 70% of the trees—700,000 trees—are to be planted in parks and other public spaces. Residents can even participate in the program by adopting trees and tracking the care of their trees online. Nearly 12,000 trees have been adopted in the MillionTreesNYC program.

A city known for its rich heritage and early beginnings, New York is becoming a pioneer in yet another area: community forestry. Their dedication to continuously grow their community forest sets an example of what’s possible even in a metropolis.

Is your community a Tree City USA? Learn more about our standards and how it can benefit your city.

Recycled Christmas trees give back to storm damaged shores

It is February and Valentine’s Day is looming, but the Christmas Spirit of Giving lives on along the shores of Long Beach, N.Y.

Volunteers arranged nearly 3,000 recycled Christmas trees donated by residents and the local Home Depot along the beach with the intended purpose of restoring the protective dunes that were damaged by Hurricane Sandy.

Photo Credit: New York Times

Photo Credit: New York Times

Hurricane Sandy significantly affected the Long Beach locality by washing away about half a million cubic yards of sand, resulting in an elevation loss of three to five feet in some areas along the beach.  Many residents were left dangerously exposed and vulnerable to future storms.

The plan to place the trees in the dunes was proposed by Long Beach residents and approved by city officials. According to the New York Times, “the trees are supposed to catch sand blown by the wind, until gradually the dunes grow up around them.”

Volunteers positioned the trees with their tops facing toward the surf. Officials hope this placement will be the most optimal for catching sand blowing from all directions.

Naturally growing grasses usually prevent and anchor sand from blowing or washing away, but the significant loss of sand has stalled the growth of grass. The recycled Christmas trees will take the place of the lost grasses to encourage the revitalization of natural dunes and plant growth.

States prone to hurricanes, such as the Carolinas and Florida, have been using Christmas trees to restore dunes for years. Additional localities in New York and New Jersey are also recycling Christmas trees to reinforce beaches damaged by Hurricane Sandy.

Damaged dunes take two to three years to become fully re-established.

Long Beach residents hope to establish a tradition of adding more recycled Christmas trees every year to keep building up the dunes that act as their first line of defense against inclement weather, and they’re off to a great start.

We hope Long Beach and communities like it continue to heal and be a shining example of the impact and importance of recycling.

Mid-Atlantic states take care of their urban trees

(Ed. Note: 24 states celebrate Arbor Day on the last Friday in April, the same date as National Arbor Day, which this year falls on the 27th. During the next few days, we’ll be highlighting what a variety of regions are doing to prepare for the tree-planting holiday. Yesterday, we featured New England; today we feature the Mid-Atlantic; Wednesday the West; Thursday the Midwest; and Friday the Great Plains.)

Four Mid-Atlantic States – Delaware, New Jersey, New York, and Virginia – and the District of Columbia celebrate Arbor Day this Friday.

District of Columbia

This Arbor Day the District of Columbia will finish commemorating the 100 year anniversary of receiving 3,000 cherry blossom trees from the mayor of Tokyo, symbolizing the friendship between the United States and Japan.  You can vote for America’s Favorite Cherry Tree here and the winner will be announced on Friday, April 27, Arbor Day 2012.

Over the last year, Arbor Day Foundation members have helped plant more than 15,001 trees in the DC area. If you’re interested in Arbor Day activities or tree planting volunteer opportunities in your area, please visit the arbordaynow.org Volunteer Center.

The District of Columbia is a Tree City USA community, home to 601,723 residents.

Delaware

The Delaware Forest Service hosted the 2012 Arbor Day Poster Contest for Delaware students (K-5th). This year’s theme — Trees are Terrific…From Acorn to Oak! was designed to increase knowledge about the importance and diversity of the oak tree as well as to introduce students to the process of the life cycle of a tree. A state winner will be selected to represent Delaware as it celebrates Arbor Day 2012.

Arbor Day Foundation members from Delaware have helped plant more than 37,238 trees across the state last year.  There are also several environmental volunteering opportunities throughout Delaware if you visit the arbordaynow.org Volunteer Center.

The State of Delaware is currently home to 15 Tree City USA communities. The largest Tree City USA in Delaware is Wilmington, population 72,664; the smallest is Ardentown, population 300.

New York

The New York State Arbor Day Committee celebrates Arbor Day by encouraging New Yorkers of all ages to consider ways to preserve natural resources and to recognize the importance of trees and the impact they make in our everyday lives. New York is another state that holds a poster contest in hopes of promoting a healthy, balanced ecosystem to younger generations.

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation offers some great tree-related activities, games and programs to help communities celebrate Arbor Day, you can check them out here.

Arbor Day Foundation members from New York have helped plant more than 396,698 trees across the state last year.

The State of New York is currently home to 104 Tree City USA communities. The largest Tree City USA in New York is New York City, population 8,392,000; the smallest is Ellicottville, population 500.

New York City is the largest Tree City USA in the country.

New Jersey

Haddon Township has been selected to host the State of New Jersey’s annual celebration of Arbor Day this year on Friday, April 27th. Approximately 600 volunteers from all over New Jersey will be planting 125 trees provided by the state along with numerous state officials in attendance for the ceremony.  All volunteers — from novices to expert tree planters — are welcome.

Last year, the New Jersey Tree Foundation was awarded an Excellence in Urban Forest Leadership Award from the Arbor Day Foundation in recognition of its success at bringing new life to tough neighborhoods through tree planting.

Arbor Day Foundation members from New Jersey have helped plant more than 115,726 trees across the state over the last year.

The State of New Jersey is currently home to 172 Tree City USA communities. The largest Tree City USA in New Jersey is Monmouth County, population 664,916; the smallest is Naval Weapons Station Earle population 600.

Virginia

For over 10 years, Virginia’s Clean Fairfax Council and The County of Fairfax have organized Earth Day/Arbor Day events.  The 2012 agenda includes a Community Service Stream Clean Up, Urban Forestry Workshops, Arbor Day Tree Planting, Environmental Education and Games for Kids and more.  If you would like to volunteer for this event, you can find more information here.

Arbor Day Foundation members from Virginia have helped plant more than 213,586 trees across the state over the last year. If you’re interested in Arbor Day activities or tree planting volunteer opportunities in your area, you can visit the arbordaynow.org Volunteer Center.

The State of Virginia is currently home to 56 Tree City USA communities. The largest Tree City USA in Virginia is Fairfax County, population 1,059,211; the smallest is Surface Combat Systems Center, population 493.