The city of Portsmouth was named a 2015 Tree City USA by the Arbor Day Foundation in honor of its commitment to effective urban forest management.
“I attended the Tree City USA program award in New Lexington, Ohio at the Ludowici Tile plant,” Portsmouth City Clerk Diana Ratliff said. “I accepted the designation on behalf of the city. It was very nice that day and they took us on a tour around the plant. It was very interesting with the history behind it.”
Started in 1976, the Tree City USA program, sponsored by the Arbor Day Foundation, in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service and the national Association of State Foresters is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year.
Portsmouth achieved Tree City USA recognition by meeting the program’s four requirements: a tree board or department, a tree-care ordinance, an annual community forestry budget of at least $2 per capita and an Arbor Day observance and proclamation.
The city held a complete Tree City celebration at Tracy Park on Saturday, April 23.
“Mayor (Jim) Kalb read the proclamation,” Ratliff said. “Vice President Kevin E. Johnson was the emcee for the event. The Portsmouth Elementary Trojan Express opened the event with the National Anthem. Those kids were amazing. They did a wonderful job. All the entertainment was done for free and the turnout was wonderful. It was estimated at around 500 in attendance, which is a real boost for the city. There were 50 vendors, entertainment and exhibits for the day. SOMC donated a tree for the park. It is a crimson red maple. It appeared that everybody had a really good time.”
The accolades followed from members of City Council
“You did a heck of a job,” First Ward Councilman Kevin W. Johnson said to Ratliff. “Thank you. That was a lot of fun. I enjoyed that a lot, and you had a beautiful day for it.”
Dan Lambe, President of the Arbor Day Foundation said trees provide multiple benefits to a community when properly planted and maintained. He said they help to improve the visual appeal of a neighborhood, increase property values, reduce home cooling costs, remove air pollutants and provide wildlife habitat.
“Tree City USA communities see the impact an urban forest has in a community first hand,” Lambe said. “Additionally, recognition brings residents together and creates a sense of community pride, whether it’s through volunteer engagement or public education.”
Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.