Tree City USA celebrates 40 years

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and the Arbor Day Foundation celebrate the 40th anniversary of Tree City USA, a program that recognizes communities that value urban tree canopy and tree care as part of their identity. 

Nationally, more than 3,400 communities have made the commitment to becoming a Tree City USA.

“Currently 95 Minnesota communities are recognized as a Tree City USA,” said Jennifer Teegarden, forestry outreach specialist. “Fergus Falls became the first Minnesota Tree City USA in 1978.”

The DNR Forestry Division approves the Minnesota Tree City USA applications. Cities become a Tree City USA by meeting four standards of sound urban forestry management: maintaining a tree board or department, having a community tree ordinance, spending at least $2 per capita on urban forestry, and celebrating Arbor Day or Arbor Month. Cities must apply at the end of each year to maintain their status.

Of the current Minnesota Tree City USA communities, Minneapolis is the largest by population and Sunfish Lake is the smallest. On average, Minnesota’s participating communities spend $10.88 per capita on urban forest management. This surpasses the national average of $7.31.

According to Teegarden, the program provides direction, assistance and national recognition to communities. It’s the framework for healthy, sustainable urban forestry that provides numerous benefits such as:

  • Reduced energy, stormwater management and erosion control costs.
  • Increased property values.
  • Stronger neighborhood and community ties.
  • Habitat for wildlife.

Learn more about Tree City USA at the Tree City USA Web page and review a list of participating cities in Minnesota.

Cities interested in becoming a Tree City USA should contact the DNR Forestry Division at 651-259-5300.