By Annie Howard
Mountain Brook’s done it again.
For the 23rd year in a row, the community has been named a Tree City USA by the Arbor Day Foundation. Mountain Brook also accepted its 15th Growth Award from the Foundation.
Both of the foundation’s awards recognize a strong commitment to tree care. As a Tree City USA, Mountain Brook met four core standards. It had: an Arbor Day celebration, a tree board, a community tree ordinance and at least $2 per capita spent on urban forestry.
The city received the Growth Award for going above and beyond those four standards.
“The Growth Award recognizes a higher level of tree care and highlights innovative programs and projects,” said Amber Morrison, ADF’s Tree City Project Manager.
Mountain Brook’s latest award in a two-decade streak comes as no surprise. The city has a winning combination: involved residents, an active tree commission, and a city manager who stresses responsible urban forestry.
“We make it a priority in our annual goals to continue being a Tree City USA,” said Sam Gaston, Mountain Brook’s city manager. He helped organize the city’s first tree commission back in 1993, and he’s still on staff with the Tree Commission today.
“We budget properly and staff well,” he said. Since stepping into his position as city manager, he’s encouraged Mountain Brook’s forestry programs. “We’ve budgeted more funds for tree plantings and maintenance, added two city arborists (Don Cafaro and Michael Gill Jr.) to our staff, and become involved in the Alabama Urban Forestry Association.”
Aside from the ADF recognition, in the past, Mountain Brook’s also netted three awards from the Alabama Urban Forestry Association.
Another ingredient in Mountain Brook’s success is that, through the years, its Tree Commission has fostered a strong relationship with the local community. Teamwork and interaction is encouraged, from Arbor Week tree giveaways to the Christmas Tree Recycling Project and quarterly Tree Commission newsletters.
Looking forward, Mountain Brook’s urban forest has a bright future. Currently underway is development of a Tree Master Plan.
“Many of the trees planted when the villages were first developed by Robert Jemison Jr. and Warren Manning in the 1920s and 1930s are passing their prime,” said Simeon Johnson, chair of the Tree Commission. “The city is thoughtfully planning for what native trees will replace them.”
There’s always more work to be done, but Mountain Brook is planning ahead.
A healthy urban forest is worth the work.
“Trees add value to our property and the community,” said Gaston. “They enhance our quality of life as well as the beauty of Mountain Brook.”
Hoover, Montevallo and Birmingham also have been recognized by ADF as Tree Cities.