The Arbor Day Foundation, in partnership with Texas A&M Forest Service, has recognized Conroe, DeSoto, McAllen and Shady Shores each for their commitments to effective urban forest management by naming them first-time Tree City USA cities.
The designations are the result of the years-long diligence of local leaders, volunteers and partners regarding tree conservation, planning and beautification.
“People understand that trees are vitally important to our cities,” said Gretchen Riley, Texas A&M Forest Service Urban and Community Forestry Program leader. “Trees provide economic, environmental, social and health benefits to the people and places where we need them most.”
For the cities that earned this designation during the year 2020, Riley points out that parks and treed green spaces are some of the few refuges of relaxation that Texans have had throughout the pandemic.
“Trees actually make us feel better and be better ¾ it’s scientifically proven that trees are good for our mental and physical health,” said Riley. “Caring for trees and forests has never been more important because they also care for us. Healthy trees make healthy lives.”
Becoming a Tree City USA
The City of Conroe has been caring for their trees in earnest since the mid-1980s, annually celebrating Arbor Day and giving residents tens of thousands of trees to plant – many sourced from the Jones State Forest.
“Root for Conroe, a local organization, helps organize Arbor Day each year for the city,” said Connor Murnane, Texas A&M forester. “With the help of the Montgomery County Texas Master Gardeners, the city passes out 500 seedlings and 100 potted trees each year sourced through TFS, along with trees donated by Trees for Houston.”
The iconic Tree City USA street sign will signal the hard work and commitment of DeSoto’s municipal leadership, Park Development Corporation and many volunteers throughout the city.
“One of our goals in DeSoto is to remain a premier city,” said Chris Glover, City of DeSoto Parks and Recreation director. “To continue this effort, being environmentally responsible is a high priority. Having a strategic plan to manage trees is beneficial to economic vitality, improved physical health and fosters an attractive environment. Tree City USA designation is a key component to establish a legacy that promotes community pride.”
Conroe, DeSoto, McAllen and Shady Shores each achieved Tree City USA recognition by meeting the program’s four requirements: a tree board or department, a tree-care ordinance, an annual community forestry budget of at least $2 per capita and an Arbor Day observance and proclamation.
These four cities join the ranks of 91 other communities in Texas already recognized as a Tree City USA. The largest designated community being Houston, the smallest is Sunset Valley, and the longest-running is Fort Worth.
The Tree City USA program is sponsored by the Arbor Day Foundation in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service, and the National Association of State Foresters. While National Arbor Day is observed the last Friday of April each year, Texas celebrates Arbor Day the first Friday in November due to optimal tree planting weather in the fall for the state.
For more information on the Tree City USA recognition program, visit https://bit.ly/3u73Ry4.