Bainbridge continues its Tree City status

Leaf it to Bainbridge Island: City leaders passed a proclamation this week observing Arbor Day that will help maintain the city’s status as a Tree City.

Bainbridge Island turned over a new leaf in 2003 and officially became a Tree City, a program run by the Arbor Day Foundation. The city has been raking in the honors as a Tree City ever since.

“It means that a city has made a sustained commitment to caring for community trees and maintaining a healthy urban forest,” said Sean Barry of the Arbor Day Foundation. “It’s not just planting new trees, but managing the ones they already have.”

To be counted as a Tree City, Bainbridge Island must meet four standards: the establishment of a tree board or department; a tree care ordinance; a community forestry program with an annual budget of at least $2 per capita; and an Arbor Day observance and proclamation.

With the council’s approval of a proclamation this week, the city upholds one of the requirements to maintain its arboreal status.

Arbor Day is April 11.

The city’s forestry commission has an ad hoc committee dedicated to working on the city’s tree ordinance.

As for the final requirement of spending $2 per capita, the city has no problem reaching that number between what public works already spends on island trees and the staff time needed to address tree-related issues, according to Stephen Morse, associate planner with the city’s planning department.

Tree City’s roots go back to 1976 when the Arbor Day Foundation first began the program. The list of Tree Cities has grown to approximately 3,500. Washington has 83 certified Tree Cities.

“When people look at what makes a city somewhere they want to live, trees might not be at the top of the list, but when you see them it does make a difference to how a city is perceived,” Barry said. “We believe cities can be great places to live and trees can be an important part of that.”

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