Urbana’s Tree City USA Designation
11,000 street trees. 4,000 park trees. An estimated 100,000 privately owned trees. Urbana’s tree inventory represents one of the most diverse urban forests in the Midwest.
Urbana values all of its trees not only as environmental and aesthetic treasures, but also as part of our history. The city takes great pride in being the first Illinois community to receive the Tree City USA designation in 1976, the program’s inaugural year, for work completed in 1975. So caring for our trees is a top priority. And that care is why Urbana has maintained the Tree City USA distinction every year since — one of only 16 cities nationwide (of the 41 charter members) to do so.
To earn the annual designation, Urbana must meet strict standards for urban forestry management as specified by the program’s overseers — the National Arbor Day Foundation, the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service, and the National Association of State Foresters. The standards include maintaining a tree board or department, having a community tree ordinance, spending at least $2 per capita on urban forestry and celebrating Arbor Day.
Since 1992, Urbana has also received the Tree City Growth Award, an honor that recognizes our commitment to tree care beyond the basic requirements for the Tree City USA designation. Among those advanced initiatives are educating residents about the benefits of trees, planting and care, as well as the Arbor Division’s ongoing forestry planning, management and maintenance.
All of these efforts have brought amazing results that include:
- 73% of parkways planted in trees
- diversity that touts 262 (and growing) different kinds of trees
- comprehensive forestry management plan
- parking lot landscape ordinances
- cooperative tree planting program
- public/private greenspace partnerships and capital improvements
- downtown Urbana tax increment financing district that considers tree planting and greenspace a part of infrastructure development
- Legacy Tree Program to recognize and protect the community’s most significant trees
A walk through Urbana quickly shows just how much Urbana loves trees!