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NJ DEPT. OF ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION NEWS RELEASE
RELEASE: 4/27/01
01/41
CONTACT: Sharon A. Southard or Amy Collings
609-984-1795 or 609-292-2994

36 Comunities Honored
DEP'S SHINN PRESENTS TREE CITY USA AWARDS AT ARBOR DAY

Tree City USA LogoHave you ever wondered about those silver and green signs along the road proclaiming a Tree City USA? Noticed that white flag with the little tree on it you have seen flying just under the Stars and Stripes in front of Town Hall? These are just a few of the ways cities, counties, and military bases have been recognized by the Tree City USA organization for maintaining a comprehensive tree management program.

Recognizing the tremendous commitment toward managing tree resources in the Garden St ate, State Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Shinn today presented 18 Tree City USA Anniversary awards during the state's 52nd Arbor Day fete at the Manalapan Arboretum.

In a prepared statement, Acting Governor Donald T. DiFrancesco commended Paramus and Parsippany-Troy Hills on their 25th year asTree City USA participants. The communities represented New Jersey on the original list of 42 cities that began Tree City USA in 1976.

"Both communities have good reason to be proud of their accomplishments," said DiFrancesco. "In order to maintain a high quality of life in New Jersey, it's critical for everyone to continue working on tree planting projects such as those that we are recognizing and celebrating today." Shinn noted that through special legislation and a DEP grant program towns like Manalapan and 80 others will be planting more than 5,000 additional trees across the state this spring. DiFrancesco has been a leading supporter of the state's tree resources and community forestry program. He has provided $900,000 in state funds for municipal tree planting resulting in thousands of trees being planted throughout New Jersey.

"I am proud to be supporting such efforts and hope that future projects such as these will continue," said DiFrancesco. "Our vision of a perfect community forest in New Jersey is to sustain trees in cities and communities by linking together professional support, funding and planning with advocacy, volunteer planting and effective maintenance. We must provide for a viable and healthy urban and community forest and maximize the benefit received from trees for communities and their residents."

Shinn said, "These Tree City USA awards gives us the chance to recognize the outstanding efforts and programs of municipalities and cities. All of these events give us the opportunity to revitalize New Jersey's tree resources and harness the positive effect trees have on our communities' vitality, livability and economic and environmental welfare."

Shinn praised the Manalapan Arboretum as a good example of hard work which paid off. "The Arboretum provides a place of natural beauty for the community and a peaceful place to escape from daily pressures," said Shinn, noting that 25 trees were planted today in the arboretum in honor of Arbor Day, and the 25th Anniversary of Tree City USA.

Eighteen New Jersey Tree City USA communities have earned Growth Awards this year by maintaining their forestry budget and accruing 10 or more points from a list of 40 Growth Award eligible activities. The activity categories range from education and public relations to tree planting/maintenance, forming new partnerships, and improved management. Each completed activity is worth two to eight points.

Tree City USA began as a Bicentennial project sponsored by the National Arbor Day Foundation and the National Association of State Foresters. In addition to recognizing outstanding community forestry programs, it also promotes tree planting and tree care activities in parks and along streets and boulevards. Nationwide there are more than 2,600 Tree Cities with at least one in every state. NJ leads the Northeast in Tree Cities with 115 officially recognized.

The four required standards for Tree City USA qualification are (1) an established tree board or tree department; (2) a community tree ordinance; (3) a community forestry program with an annual budget of $2 per capita; and (4) and an annual Arbor Day observance with a proclamation.

The NJ Forest Service's Community Forestry Program regularly supplies information and support to communities that are interested in becoming Tree Cities. For example, they offer copies of sample ordinances and proclamations that towns may personalize to fit local conditions. The budget needn't be a barrier either. It may include volunteer time at $14.83 per hour or any combination of items from a page-long list of options.

The status of Tree City USA is maintained by remaining in compliance with the four standards and by filing a simple annual report. The report of the Community Forestry Program, with a work plan and a budget, can be as straightforward as an outline. The Arbor Day Proclamation and evidence of the observance would complete this package.

For more information on urban and community forestry, upcoming grant opportunities, or how you can help your community become a Tree City USA, contact the NJ Community Forestry Program at (609) 292-2532 or visit www.state.nj.us/dep/forestry/community on the web.

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