America's Urban Forest is all around us. The trees of Seneca County along the streets and roads, creeks and river, on the golf courses, in patches of woodland, highlighting our yards and gardens, and flourishing in our parks and nature preserves all are part of this forest.
Tiffin, Fostoria and Attica have attained the status of Tree Cities as recognized by the National Arbor Day Foundation. They are three of the 53 towns and villages in northwest Ohio so designated for their efforts in the establishment and management of the urban forest. To be named a Tree City, a community of any size needs to meet four standards.
Initially, there must be a department, board or commission that is legally responsible for the care of the trees on public property. A city forestry department is ideal in this role, but in smaller communities, a tree commission takes on the responsibility and works with local officials to see that standards are maintained.
Tiffin is celebrating its 31st year as a Tree City, a great tribute to the foresight of city leaders in the past.
The second requirement is for a city tree ordinance that designates the responsible department or board, and spells out responsibilities for tree planting, removal and maintenance. This ordinance must also provide for the establishment of a list of approved street tree species to be planted with the correct locations and spacing.
Third, there must be a community forestry program with a minimum budget of $2 per capita. This is increasingly challenging in today's economy, but the value of trees in our locality is being recognized and appreciated.
Finally, a Tree City must observe and proclaim Arbor Day every year. In Tiffin, the tree commission conducts a program at a school each spring with speakers and the planting of one or more trees on school property.
All Tiffin elementary schools have been included, with St. Joseph School receiving three trees last year, and Krout the year before. This year the celebration will be at the Middle School at 2 p.m. May 13.
Help and support is provided by the U.S. Forest Service and state personnel. Stephanie Miller is our local "go-to" person and is always helpful with her advice and encouragement. She recently offered a workshop on Young Tree Care at Tiffin University as a part of the set-up process of the establishment of a Tree Campus program there.
Continuing care for trees is essential with many diseases and pests attacking different species. Insects such as the gypsy moth, Asian long-horned beetle, bagworms and, of course, the emerald ash borer continue to challenge us. Continuous vigilance is necessary to try to stay ahead of these invasions and to keep up with prevention and treatment.
In the past, it was not uncommon for large numbers of street trees of the same species to be planted, leading to problems when species-specific diseases or insects attacked, as is happening with our ash trees.
Now the 10-20-30 rule is in force, whereby no more than 30 percent of newly planted trees belong to the same family, 20 percent are of the same genera and 10 percent are of the same species.
The Tree City Annual Seminar last week in Bowling Green was attended by 11 members of the tree commission and city officials. We heard the keynote speaker describe scores of trees suitable for city street use. Rest assured, the trees in your own particular forest are in good hands.