The City of Key West was named a 2021 Tree City USA by the Arbor Day Foundation in honor of its commitment to effective urban forest management.
“Your community should be proud to live in a place that makes the planting and care of trees a priority, and you should be proud of a job well done!” wrote the Tree City team in a letter announcing the recognition.
Karen DeMaria, the City’s Urban Forester, says she’s grateful for the recognition, one that the City has received ten times.
“Our island’s canopy is vital to the quality of life of our residents and visitors,” said DeMaria.
Each year on Arbor Day, the City urges property owners to plant a tree.
“Trees on publicly and privately owned property within the city are economic and aesthetic asset to the citizens,” says DeMaria, “because of their important and meaningful contribution to a healthy and beautiful community.”
Key West achieved Tree City USA recognition by meeting the program’s four requirements: a tree board or department, a tree-care ordinance, an annual community forestry budget of at least $2 per capita and an Arbor Day observance and proclamation.
The Tree City USA program is sponsored by the Arbor Day Foundation in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service and the National Association of State Foresters.
Trees are assets to a community when properly planted and maintained, says DeMaria. They help to improve the visual appeal of a neighborhood, increase property values, reduce home cooling costs, remove air pollutants and provide wildlife habitat, among many other benefits.
In the photo: Key West’s official tree: the royal poinciana.
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