Originally published April 22, 2013.
When it comes to beautification and healthy trees, the city of Huntington has been doing its part for almost two decades.
Huntington has been recognized as one of Indiana's "Tree City USA" for 18 consecutive years - a designation bestowed by the Department of Natural Resources Division of Forestry.
Bob Caley, City Services superintendent, says the city has worked hard to maintain its status.
"There are four requirements that must be upheld in order to maintain your Tree City status," Caley says. "The requirements are set in place by the Arbor Day Foundation."
To be considered as a Tree City, communities must maintain a tree board or department, draft and pass a public tree care ordinance, spend at least $2 per capita for its tree care program and have an Arbor Day observance and proclamation.
"Arbor Day is a day set aside to celebrate trees," Caley adds. "There are various activities that can be done to observe the day."
In the past, the city of Huntington has held tree give-away events in observance of Arbor Day. This year however, Caley says it will be different.
"We will be planting trees at Memorial and Yeoman parks this year," he states. "We'll be doing that on April 26, from noon to 2 p.m. and volunteers are welcome to come out and help."
As part of the criteria for maintaining its status, Caley says the city has done a lot of work around town.
"Last year we removed 67 trees and planted 42 new ones," he says. "This was in addition to general maintenance and pruning."
Trees were planted in the three-block area of downtown as well as on Old U.S.-24, Caley adds.
"OSV (Our Sunday Visitor) donated trees last year and will be doing the same this year," he notes. "This year, some trees will be planted on Cherry and Warren streets."
Caley adds that in addition to replacing overgrown trees, several trees have had to be removed because of age or damaged from the emerald ash borer.
"That did a lot of damage to some of our trees and we need to replace those dead or dying ones with healthy trees," he says. "Healthy trees are important to every city."
According to the Arbor Day Foundation, benefits of being a Tree City USA Community include:
• Reduction in costs for energy, storm water management and erosion control.
• Reduction in energy consumption by up to 25 percent.
• A boost in property values.
• Building stronger ties within the community.
• A commitment to a healthier environment.
"The tree board oversees what types of trees are planted," states Caley. "The standards are ones that were established in the tree ordinance, which was adopted by the Board of Works and have a lot to do with growth patterns."
This year, the department will focus on planting chanticleer pear trees around the city. On Arbor Day, larger trees will be planted in the parks, Caley notes.
"Some of the trees include tulip, redbud, pin oak, red oak, Princeton gold and crimson sunset," he says. "These trees are larger and will provide shade in the parks when they are older."
Another area that the department will be working on, Caley says, is emphasizing opportunities for the community to participate via volunteerism.
"We are coordinating volunteer work opportunities, which include general maintenance and cleaning up around the trees," he says. "We have also attended seminars on proper techniques for pruning and if residents have questions regarding their own trees, we would be happy to assist them."
Caley adds that Tree City USA status is something the entire community should work to uphold.
"There are many benefits to having healthy trees in your community," he says. "It's also something we should be proud of."
According to DNR statistics, last year Indiana lost six Tree Cities, many of which had held their status since the early 1990s. A total of 568 cities and towns in the state are currently eligible.
For more information on urban forestry call the DNR at 317-234-6568 or e-mail urbanforestry@dnr.IN.gov .
For information on the Arbor Day event on April 26, call the Huntington Parks and Recreation Department at 358-2323.