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Tree City, Tree Campus, and Tree Line USA

DEC staff and western New York Tree City staff holding up a banner
DEC staff assisting a western
New York Tree City

Tree City, Tree Campus, and Tree Line are programs sponsored by The National Arbor Day Foundation (leaves DEC website) (ADF) in cooperation with the USDA Forest Service and DEC's Urban and Community Forestry program. These programs provide direction, technical assistance, public attention, and national recognition for urban and community forestry programs in thousands of towns and cities that more than 93 million Americans call home.

In addition to the Tree City, Tree Campus, and Tree Line programs, ADF has launched two new programs which it currently maintains oversight of: Tree Campus K-12 and Tree Campus Healthcare. These programs for elementary schools and medical facilities encourage the management of trees for public health and education. Learn more about Tree Campus K-12 and Tree Campus Healthcare (leaves DEC website).

Tree City USA

The Tree City USA program "provides the framework necessary for communities to manage and expand their public trees" according to ADF. Becoming a Tree City is a great way for a municipality to start an urban forestry program, or celebrate the one they have. In order to become a Tree City USA a community must meet the four standards:

  1. a tree board or department
  2. a tree care ordinance
  3. a community forestry program with an annual budget of at least $2 per capita
  4. an Arbor Day observance and proclamation.

Becoming a Tree City connects a community to a network of other communities who care about their trees. It's a great way to get connected with your local urban forester and the Urban and Community Forestry program. To learn more about the program, the four standards, and resources for meeting them contact your local urban forester by finding your regional DEC office and visit ADF Tree City USA (leaves DEC website).

Tree Campus USA

The Tree Campus USA program encourages universities and colleges to engage their student populations in urban forestry education and service learning while managing their campus trees. Being a Tree Campus shows commitment to the environment and promotes healthy trees. To become a Tree Campus a university or college must meet five standards:

  1. a campus tree advisory committee
  2. a campus tree care plan
  3. campus tree program with a dedicated annual expenditure
  4. Arbor Day observance
  5. service learning project.

The Urban and Community Forestry Program and your local urban forester can help with ideas for service learning projects. To learn more about the program and the five standards visit ADF Tree Campus USA (leaves DEC website).

Tree Line USA

Utility companies are important partners in managing the urban forest for many communities. The Tree Line USA program is a partnership between AD and the National Association of State Foresters and recognizes utility companies for adhering to best practices in arboriculture. The program encourages care maintenance of our urban forests and builds partnerships between utility companies and the communities they operate in.

There are five standards to become a Tree Line USA:

  1. quality tree care
  2. annual worker training
  3. tree planting and public education
  4. tree-based energy conservation program
  5. Arbor Day celebration

To learn more about the program and the five standards visit ADF Tree Line USA (leaves DEC website).

Benefits of Becoming a Tree City, Tree Campus, or Tree line

The process of becoming a Tree City, Tree Campus, or Tree Line USA provides initial direction for an urban and community forestry program. The standards required for each certification will help a community, school, or utility get started towards annual systematic management of its tree resources. It builds relationships with DEC urban forestry program staff and NYS Urban Forestry Council which will help support the fledgling urban forestry program.

Benefits include:

Cobleskill Tree Board members learn from Landis Arboretum Arborist Fred Breglia
Cobleskill Tree Board members learn from
Landis Arboretum Arborist Fred Breglia
  • Improved public image for a community, school, hospital or utility company
  • Shared sense of pride in the efforts of a community
  • Access to funding sources through Arbor Day Foundation and additional points on scoring for DEC Urban and Community Forestry
  • Good news publicity - Arbor day events are a great way to celebrate trees and volunteer efforts and reach a large number of community members
  • Better tree care means even more benefits from trees - cleaner water, cleaner air, reduced electricity costs in the summer, and health benefits

If you still need more benefits, ADF has lists of the benefits of becoming (links all leave DEC website) a tree city, a tree line utility, a tree campus, a tree campus K-12, or a tree campus healthcare.

How to Apply

If you're ready to apply to become a Tree City, Tree Campus, or Tree Line USA here's what you need to do:

1. Contact your local urban forester by finding your region if you haven't already been in touch. Applications are approved by regional urban foresters and letting them know you're applying is the first step.

2. Visit the ADF page for your program and create an account to apply online:

Lists of Tree Cities, Tree Campuses, and Tree Lines in New York

Tree Cities

In 2020, New York had 156 active Tree Cities. We had 8 new cities join the ranks of Tree City USA recipients in 2020: Athens, Catskill, Inc. Village of Sands Point, The Village of Ossining, Town of Somers, Village of Depew, Village of Honeoye Falls and Village of Lima.

View the complete list of Tree Cities in New York (leaves DEC website).

Tree Campuses

In 2020, New York had 23 recertifying Tree Campuses.

View the complete list of Tree Campuses in New York (PDF).

Tree Line

New York has 6 Tree Line Utilities. We are happy to recognize them below. (* denotes they did not recertify in 2020)

Tree Line Utilities in New York
Utility Company Name Years a Tree Line
Bath Electric, Gas, and Water Systems 15*
Consolidated Edison Company of NY 11
Massena Electric Department 14
National Grid 20
Orange and Rockland Utilities 18
PSEG - Long Island 5

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