This past week, the City of San Antonio (COSA) officially became a Tree City USA. This program offers direction, assistance and national recognition for our community and a framework for sustainable tree programs, initiatives, and ordinances.
“Recognition as a Tree City USA provides us with a great opportunity to celebrate the importance of having a healthy and well maintained tree canopy throughout our community,” said Rod Sanchez, Director of Development Services Department (DSD). “Learning proper care for our trees, their value and benefits will safeguard and enhance the quality of life we all enjoy in San Antonio.”
Started in 1976, Tree City USA is sponsored by the Arbor Day Foundation in partnership with the U.S. Forest Services and National Association of State Foresters. An incorporated municipality of any size can qualify by meeting these four fundamental standards:
• A Tree Board or Department that protects, preserves, plants and maintains city trees – COSA created the Tree Preservation Section in 1997,
• A tree care ordinance
• A community forestry program with an annual budget of at least $2 per capita
• An Arbor Day Observance and Proclamation
The City created a Tree Preservation team in 1997, in conjunction with the first Tree Preservation Ordinance approved by City Council that same year. Today, the City Arborist manages a staff of 13 under the umbrella of DSD.
In a city with an estimated 1.4 million residents, the city’s Development Services, Parks and Recreation, and Transportation and Capital Improvements departments have an annual estimated combined budget of $3.4 million dedicated to the preservation and maintenance of trees in the city. This investment by the city includes community outreach programs to raise public awareness about the value and benefits provided by a healthy and diverse tree canopy.
Trees benefit our city by reducing energy costs and consumption, boosting property values, increasing stronger connectivity and sense of community.
The City of San Antonio is now one of the more than 3,400 towns and cities across the nation recognized as a Tree City USA.