Urban Foresters Hoping For Growth

Urban Foresters Hoping For Growth
Urban Foresters Hoping For Growth

The City of Spokane has been awarded the Tree City USA Award for the 8th year in a row. Cities across the United States apply annually for the Tree City Award organized by the Arbor Day Foundation. This year, the Foundation accepted four new cities to the list to make a total of 80 cities with the award.

The award is based on four standards: a tree board or department, a tree care ordinance, a community forest program with an annual budget of at least $2 per capita, and an arbor day observance and proclamation.

The City has met those requirements for the past eight years and was going to celebrate the occasion on Thursday, April 14th. Today the event was cancelled because Commissioner of Public Lands, Peter Goldmark is unable to attend. 

“Everything is coming out to a head with the budget. He needs to stay in Olympia to keep his dialogue open with the legislature,” said Communications and Outreach for the Department of Natural Resources, Janet Pearce. 

“It’s really too bad he can’t make it. Next February we’ll be working with the state again to get someone over here,” said Spokane Urban Forester, Angel Spell.

Spell was set to present the State of the Urban Forest at the award session that was cancelled.

In Spell’s time with the Spokane Urban Foresters, she has helped stabilize the budget and removed portions of the proposed claim to the Tree City Award to exhibit a more accurate representation of the budget focused on Spokane trees.

“Before 2010 we used leaf litter pickup as part of the claim. I think that stretches the claim and is more of a sanitary expense,” Spell said.

The budget claimed on this year’s tree city award comes out to $450,000. The claim sets aside $305,935 which represents the proposed budget and expenditures on the City’s trees. The actual operation cost comes to $167,500 which covers two full-time employees, seasonal workers and some operating costs. The remaining amount is the left over “imaginary” cash” made up from tree donations and volunteer time.

In past years, the budget dedicated to a community forest program was higher than it was now. That was in 2001 and 2002. It was in 2006 and 2007 that their budget reached its lowest point. According to Jeff Perry, the City of Spokane’s arborist, the budget has stabilized but they’re looking for a bigger budget. He thinks that bigger budget could lead to the next award, the Tree City Growth Award.

According to the Tree City Growth Award requirements, budget isn’t necessarily a factor for qualifying.

“You don’t apply until the end of the year,” said Garth David, Forestry Program Manager at the Conservation District of Spokane. “This year we’ll qualify due to a grant to education and public relations. It was a full on advertising campaign that educated citizens on what they need to do to take care of trees in the right away.

Receiving the Tree City Growth Award in Education and Public Relations depends on valued points for publications, literature distribution, local awards programs, community-wide tree events, youth education and more. The Arbor Day Foundation has a full list of requirements on their website.

Spell says, the Tree City Award is only an entry point. “It’s a way to say we want to dedicate ourselves to this. After eight years, I’d like to focus on the growth award.”