City, TUA honored during Arbor Day celebration
The City of Tullahoma celebrated Arbor Day Friday morning with three tree-care recognitions at the East Park Arboretum.
A Level 2 Arboretum
The arboretum, which shares its 25 acres with the Sunrise Rotary Disc Golf Course behind East Middle School, received its official state certification from the Tennessee Urban Forestry Council (TUFC) in 2016, then as a Level 1 arboretum.
On Thursday, the Tullahoma Tree Board received notification that it had received its recertification as a Level 2 arboretum.
“That’s a big deal,” said Ralph Graham, tree board chairman. “There are 60-plus species required for an arboretum to be qualified at this level and we achieved it. We achieved Level 1 last year at this time so, in two years, we came up to Level 2 and I think that’s really outstanding.”
“It’s rare that they (arboreta) level up in one year,” said TUFC spokesman Jill Smith, confirming the recertification. “So, they are special.”
Last year, the East Park Arboretum was added to the TUFC website, which now lists more than 100 certified arboreta throughout Tennessee.
To be state certified, an arboretum must contain a minimum of 30 different species in an area open to the public. Each tree must be labeled for educational and scientific purposes, properly protected and well maintained.
According to TUFC, Level 2 designation bumps the minimum requirement to 60 trees and requires that a pamphlet or map showing the location of the trees, with the TUFC logo affixed, must be available for self-guided tours.
“We are among the ranks of a select few in the state,” said Graham. “There aren’t as many Level 2’s in the state. It’s a destination now. People come here for the trees, the disc golf and the little playground. It can be a tourist attraction, too.”
Other Level 2 arboreta in Middle Tennessee include Deerwood Park and Natural Area in Brentwood, McMinnville Civic Center and Trevecca Nazarene University in Nashville.
Detailing the routine challenges of regular tree maintenance, Rogers added a new set of challenges the city would face in restoring its urban forest canopy in the wake of the Nov. 29 tornado.
According to Graham, that event cost the city more than 1,200 trees – including those that destroyed his home.
“It’s at least that number,” Graham said, noting that many downed trees were not reported. “I stopped counting at 1,200 trees.
“To have an accurate count is really not as important as it is to know the impact level to our canopy. It’s a significant amount.”
“The loss of the trees is a private thing, but through the tree board we can encourage the citizens of the city to put trees in the ground and protect them.”
“What better way to bring everybody’s mind to planting trees than having an Arbor Day celebration, like we are today?,” asked Rogers. “Arbor Day founder J. Sterling Morton said it best: ‘Most holidays repose on the past, but Arbor Day proposes for the future’.”
A list of trees recommended for planting in Tullahoma is available online at http://www.tullahomatn.gov/trees.
The recognitions the city received on Friday, Graham said, “show the commitment of the city to maintain and enhance our urban forests.”
Thanking those who made certification possible, Graham cited the efforts of the state – which in 2015 awarded a Tennessee Agricultural Enhancement grant to install the disc golf course trees and create the arboretum – and the city, which provided $10,000 in matching grant money toward the effort.
He also thanked community coordinator Winston Brooks and former and current city foresters J. P. Kraft and Ian Anderson, who helped apply for those grants and plant the trees. The Sunrise and Noon Rotary clubs were also thanked both for the dedication of trees in the arboretum and the signage and kiosk map that made it complete.
TUFC’s arboretum certification program is sponsored by the Tennessee Urban Forestry Council in partnership with the Tennessee Department of Agriculture Division of Forestry.
City, TUA honored
During the event, State Forester Steven Rogers presented the city with two national awards recognizing Tullahoma with both Tree City USA and Tree Line USA designations.
“This is a big event for me and for the city of Tullahoma,” said Rogers. “This is 20 years that we’ve recognized Tullahoma as a Tree City USA and we’re also recognizing TUB (sic) for their involvement in the Tree Line program.
“Both programs are ongoing community improvement programs and the designation is awarded each year,” said Rogers. “Ongoing recognition not only contributes to the community’s pride but also keeps us in touch with other cities and resources that can help us improve our programs.”
To maintain its Tree City USA status, the city must meet standards that include having an established legal tree governing board, spending at least $2 per capita on the urban forest, and maintaining a tree care ordinance.
Tullahoma is one of 44 communities in Tennessee to receive the Tree City USA designation. Twenty-one of those cities, now including Tullahoma, have claimed the designation for 20 years.
In recognition of Tullahoma’s efforts to maintain its designation for two decades, Rogers presented city leaders with an award for display in city hall.
To maintain its Tree Line USA status, the Tullahoma Utilities Authority (TUA) must also meet several standards: having a comprehensive quality tree care program; annual worker training in best practices; tree planting and public education programs that demonstrate proper tree planting placement and pruning while expanding the tree canopy in the community; and a tree-based energy conservation program.
Only 18 utility boards across the state have received the Tree Line USA designation. This is TUA’s sixth consecutive award.
Both Tree City USA and Tree Line USA award designations to towns and cities across Tennessee each year by the National Arbor Day Foundation in cooperation with the U.S. Forest Service and the Tennessee Department of Agricultures’ division of forestry.
Both programs require that an annual Arbor Day observance be held in the city.
“Trees are a critical part of urban landscapes all across the United States,” said Dan Lambe, President of the Arbor Day Foundation. “Service providers like Tullahoma Utilities demonstrate that it’s possible for trees and utilities to co-exist for the benefit of communities and citizens.”
Monty Hawkins serves the Tullahoma community as TUA’s Forester and coordinates tree care across the city. For questions about best tree-care practices, call Monty at 571-7109.
Kelly Lapczynski may be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.