Arboretum receives official state certification

On Friday morning, a ribbon-cutting ceremony was held at the city’s arboretum at East Park in honor of the facility being certified by the Tennessee Urban Forestry Council earlier this month. Attending the event are city officials, representatives of the chamber of commerce and community members. Tree Board Chairman Ralph Graham cut the ceremonial ribbon. –Staff Photo by Chris Barstad

STAFF WRITER

kelly lapcyznski

 

In observance of Arbor Day, the City of Tullahoma cut the ribbon on the newly certified East Park Arboretum behind East Middle School on Friday morning.

Completed last year, the arboretum, which shares space with the Sunrise Rotary Disc Golf Course, received its official state certification from the Tennessee Urban Forestry Council (TUFC) earlier this month.

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 and properly maintained.

“It’s not just Arbor Day,” said Tullahoma Tree Board Chairman Ralph Graham.  “It’s arboretum day for me.”

Last year, Graham said, former City Forester J.P. Kraft worked with the tree board to apply for a $2,500 Tennessee Agricultural Enhancement Program grant that, when matched by the city, would fund the purchase and planting of 30 trees.

On Friday morning, a ribbon-cutting ceremony was held at the city’s arboretum at East Park in honor of the facility being certified by the Tennessee Urban Forestry Council earlier this month. Attending the event are city officials, representatives of the chamber of commerce and community members. Tree Board Chairman Ralph Graham cut the ceremonial ribbon.

–Staff Photo by Chris Barstad

But as plans moved forward to submit the grant application, Graham said a visit to South Carolina inspired him to target Tullahoma’s tree-planting project for the city’s new disc golf course – the design plans for which included the planting of 33 trees – and to select the variety of species that would fit the requirements for an arboretum.

The course design included the planting of eight evergreen trees, so when the group had the 33 trees needed to fit the course blueprint, they were still several trees shy of meeting the 30-species requirement for an arboretum.  That’s when, Graham said, the Noon Rotary Club donated nine trees in memory of deceased members, bringing the project up to 34 different species in an arboretum that now includes 41 individual trees.

To meet the labeling requirement, the Sunrise Rotary Club has placed the necessary species identification plaques at the base of each tree and a map of each tree’s location on the existing park kiosk.

Though the tree-planting project was funded by the TUFC grant, Grant said the arboretum project would not have been possible without the assistance of the Rotary clubs – the Sunrise Rotary Club that donated the disc golf course to the city in November of 2013 and the Noon Rotary Club which donated additional trees.

“I’m just so glad that it all came together,” said Graham.

Having earned the state certification, the East Park Arboretum will now be added to the TUFC website listing the location of more than 70 certified arboretums throughout Tennessee.

“We’re going to be a destination city,” said Graham.  “We’ve got an arboretum, we’ve got a disc golf course.  All together, what a great way to celebrate Arbor Day.”

The arboretum was officially certified on April 20.

 

City, TUB honored

 

During the opening of the arboretum, State Forester Steven Rogers presented the city with two national awards recognizing Tullahoma with both the Tree City USA and Tree Line USA designations.

“Both programs are designed to recognize communities that effectively manage their urban forests and meet certain core standards,” said Rogers.  “Tullahoma has continually been selected for this national recognition for effectively managing its urban trees as a valuable natural resource.

“Maintaining this national status shows that the city and its citizens recognize that urban trees are closely linked to our quality of life and take pride in working together as stewards to preserve and enhance the urban forest.”

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 41 communities in Tennessee to receive the Tree City USA designation.

To maintain its Tree Line USA status, the Tullahoma Utilities Board (TUB) must 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; and a tree-based energy conservation program.

Only 17 utility boards across the state have received the Tree Line USA designation.

Both Tree City USA and Tree Line USA are ongoing community improvement programs that 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 Agriculture’s division of forestry.

Both programs require that an annual Arbor Day observance be held in the city.

This is the 19th year that Tullahoma has been recognized as a Tree City and the fifth year it has received the Tree Line USA award.