By Emily Williams-Robertshaw
For the 27th year in a row, the city of Mountain Brook has maintained its status as a Tree City USA.
This year, the foundation also has tapped the city to receive the 2020 Tree City USA Growth Award, according to a release, “for demonstrating environmental improvement and higher level of tree care.”
“Our residents are very environmentally aware and know that a healthy urban forest contributes to the quality of life in Mountain Brook,” city manager Sam Gaston said.
The Tree City USA program is sponsored by the National Arbor Day Foundation in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service and the National Association of State Foresters.
“Tree City USA communities see the positive effects of an urban forest firsthand,” Dan Lambe, president of the foundation said. “The trees being planted and cared for by Mountain Brook are ensuring that generations to come will enjoy a better quality of life. Additionally, participation in this program brings residents together and creates a sense of civic pride, whether it’s through volunteer engagement or public education.”
The urban forest has been essential during the COVID-19 pandemic, especially during lockdowns when gyms were closed and people needed a safe place to exercise and socialize.
The effects of city investment in urban forestry could be witnessed as people used the city’s greenspaces, Gaston said, “especially among our walking trails, in Jemison Park, Watkins Branch Park and the Irondale Furnace; along our sidewalk system; and in some of our passive parks, such as Overton Park, the Crestline Tot Lot and Canterbury Park.”
The city will celebrate Arbor Week 2021 from Feb. 22 to Feb. 26, with activities including a first grade tree giveaway Feb. 22 and a fifth grade Arbor Week poster contest.
Festivities will conclude with a ceremony at 10 a.m. Feb. 26, during which the Alabama Urban Forestry Association will present Mountain Brook with the State Arbor Day Community 2021 Award.
A focus on not only maintaining but also building on the existing urban forest is an investment in the city’s future, Gaston said.
“It ensures that we will have replacements in place when some of the old stock trees die or have to be removed,” Gaston said.
The Feb. 26 event includes the ceremonial planting of an oak tree donated by Hunter Trees in front of City Hall, and 100 dogwood trees will be given out for free.
Attendees are required to wear a mask and social distance.
For more information, visit mtnbrook.org.