Newcastle is first-time Tree City USA honoree

May 7, 2008

By Jim Feehan

The Arbor Day Foundation named Newcastle a Tree City USA community. Newcastle and four other cities in the state earned the title for the first time this year.

The city met the foundation’s four standards to become such a community: a tree board or department; a tree care ordinance; a comprehensive community forestry program; and an official Arbor Day observance, said Sarah Griffith, urban and community forestry program manager with the Washington Department of Natural Resources.
“I do want to congratulate you on making the list,” Griffith said at the April 15 meeting of the City Council. “I assume now that you have made the list, you’ll be making it several years to come.”

The city received a flag, a plaque and two road signs commemorating the city’s status as a Tree City.
“We’re very excited to be on the list of cities to make Tree City USA,” Mayor Ben Varon said.

Seventy other cities in Washington made the list.

To mark the occasion, Newcastle will hold an event this fall, Michael Holly, Newcastle parks program manager, said.

Aaron Milner, a certified arborist and maintenance technician with the city, was the driving force behind Newcastle’s Tree City designation, said City Manager John Starbard.

“He researched what was required to be a Tree City and he pursued it and made it happen,” Starbard said.
The Arbor Day Foundation, in conjunction with the National Association of State Foresters and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service, sponsors the Tree City USA program.

State Lands Commissioner Doug Sutherland presented the award to the cities at a statewide luncheon April 10 in University Place.

“Arbor Day is the occasion when we recognize all those communities who participate in tree plantings each year, Sutherland said. “Our cities are more livable with healthy urban forests, not to mention the number of benefits that trees provide us. They store carbon, provide habitat, reduce storm water runoff and beautify our neighborhoods.”

Pasco, Woodland, Chelan and Millwood were the other first time Tree City recipients in the state.
As a formal holiday, Arbor Day was first observed in 1872 in Nebraska. The celebration serves to commemorate the national tree-planting holiday and foster awareness of protecting the environment.

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