There are 10 Arbor Day Foundation “Tree City USA” communities in the Bham area. See why it matters.

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Birmingham’s Tree City sign on Crestwood Boulevard. Photo by Pat Byington for Bham Now

Have you seen this sign? What is a Tree City USA? And why does it matter?

Tree City USA is a national recognition program sponsored by the Arbor Day Foundation in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service and National Association of State Foresters. The popular program has been around since 1976.  

In a nutshell, communities can become a Tree City by meeting 4 fundamental standards

They include:

  • Operating a city Tree Board or Department
  • Establishing a  Public Tree Care Ordinance
  • Supporting a Community Forestry Program
  • Observing Arbor Day 

Any incorporated municipality can participate.  In fact, Pine Apple, Alabama – a town with a population of 100 is a Tree City.

The Latest National Tree City List Released

Mountain Brook’s Tree City sign on Montclair Road. Photo by Pat Byington for Bham Now

This past June, the Arbor Day Foundation updated its national annual Tree City USA list for Alabama and the Birmingham area.

Only 10 cities are on the Tree City USA list in our area (there are 30+ municipalities in Jefferson County alone). 

Here is the Tree City USA list – which includes the number of years they have been in the program.

  • Leeds – 30 years
  • Birmingham – 27 years
  • Vestavia Hills – 26 years
  • Mountain Brook – 26 years
  • Montevallo – 26 years
  • Hoover – 21 years
  • Chelsea – 21 years
  • Irondale – 12 years
  • Alabaster – 9 years
  • Homewood – 3 years

In total there are 79 Tree City USA communities in Alabama.  The oldest participant is Mobile which has been a Tree City USA for 40+ years.

Tree Campus List – New K-12 Program

UAB football players planting trees on campus. Photo courtesy of UAB Sustainability

Along with the Tree City program, the Arbor Day Foundation has a Tree Campus program that benefits institutions of higher education.  Presently, only two local Birmingham metro college campuses are on the list. They are Samford University and UAB.

This year, the Arbor Day Foundation is also launching a Tree Campus K-12 and Tree Campus Healthcare Programs.  

Is your Town, Campus or School Missing?

New tree plantings on Birmingham’s Highland Avenue. Photo by Pat Byington for Bham Now

If you are looking for a way to improve your community’s water and air quality and way of life – support the cities and colleges, that are part of these Arbor Day Foundation programs.  

Meanwhile, if your community is NOT participating in these programs – wouldn’t it be amazing to have most of our municipalities designated as a Tree City USA.  Or how about a Tree Campus?  K-12 school?  Or Tree Campus Healthcare program? 

Your school or hospital could be the first in Alabama recognized by these new Arbor Day initiatives.

Let’s do it Birmingham!

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Pat Byington
Longtime conservationist. Former Executive Director at the Alabama Environmental Council and Wild South. Publisher of the Bama Environmental News for more than 18 years. Career highlights include playing an active role in the creation of Alabama's Forever Wild program, Little River Canyon National Preserve, Dugger Mountain Wilderness, preservation of special places throughout the East through the Wilderness Society and the strengthening (making more stringent) the state of Alabama's cancer risk and mercury standards.
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