Caring for our urban forests in Central Oregon

We talk a lot about our urban forest and the importance of a healthy urban forest—for many reasons. But how does a community manage their urban forest in a way that is sound and fair? This is a question that is arising right now in Bend, with a small amount of controversy (like any concerned community, right?) Recently a group of Bend residents has decided to help the City of Bend regain its status as a Tree City USA.

So, what does that mean? A Tree City USA is a designation from the Arbor Day Foundation that shows that a community is committed to the health of its urban forest. Specifically, Tree Cities must adhere to the following four core standards of sound urban forestry management:

  1. Maintain a tree board or department. By doing this, the city delegates a body to be legally responsible for the care of all trees on city-owned property. This way city leaders determine who will professionally perform necessary tree work and the public will also know who is accountable for decisions that impact community trees. A tree board usually consists of citizens, tree professionals, business people and government employees.
  2. Have a community tree ordinance. A basic tree care ordinance forms the foundation of a city’s tree care program. Ideally an ordinance can provide clear guidance for planting, maintaining and removing trees from streets, parks and other public spaces as well as activities that are required or prohibited. Beyond that, a tree ordinance can be specifically tailored to the needs of the particular community.
  3. Spend at least $2 per capita on urban forestry. Our urban forests give us a lot—clean air, clean water, shade, beauty—and economic benefits. So, in order to care properly for city trees, a Tree City USA requires that at least $2 per capita be allocated towards the planting, care and removal of city trees. While this may seem like a valid barrier, keep in mind that most cities already spend this amount, or even more on their tree care.
  4. Celebrate Arbor Day. An effective program for community trees would not be complete without a little celebration, so a Tree City USA must commit to an annual Arbor Day ceremony, which would include an official Arbor Day proclamation by city officials. Arbor Day an also include activities for kids and families or education initiatives for homeowners to learn about proper tree care. We think this is a good idea, but hey, we are arborists, so we spend a lot of time thinking about trees!

We feel pretty lucky to live and work in communities that have a good start in caring for their urban forests. We try our best to educate property owners and city officials alike to care for our trees.

What do you think about Bend becoming a Tree City USA again? We’d love to hear your thoughts!

The snow is melting! Are you ready to get some tree care? Call us at 541-480-4223 or shoot us an email to get an estimate.