City, Forester Honored for ‘Tree City’ Growth Award
City Times Staff
The Stevens Point City Forester was honored on Monday for his continued work in maintaining the city’s tree stock.
Forester Todd Ernster oversees about 7,300 trees within the city limits. On Monday he was recognized by the Dept. of Natural Resources for having achieved the Tree City USA Growth Award.
The Tree City USA program is sponsored by the Arbor Day Foundation, something Stevens Point has held for 36 years. Requirements for recognition include organizing a Tree Board, a formal Arbor Day observance, having a tree care ordinance and having a community forestry program with an annual budget of at least $2 per capita.
The Growth Award has requirements “above and beyond” a regular Tree City USA status, according to Don Kissinger, regional urban forestry coordinator for the DNR, and includes specific standards for tree planting, planning, partnerships and public education on tree care.
Stevens Point is one of only 27 communities — out of 190 — to receive the Growth Award.
“One of the huge things trees do for you is help cool the city, cut energy use and cut attention deficit disorder, there’s less crime…basically, trees are a win-win,” Kissinger said. He added the city had 1,000 ash trees at the beginning of the year, but about 250 infested with Emerald Ash Borer had to be removed, saving the remaining ash tree stock.
The Tree City USA program was first created in 1976 by a group of farmers to encourage urban communities to better care for urban trees. Stevens Point has held the title for 36 years. According to Kissinger, only six other cities in the state have held the designation for longer.