The Arbor Day Foundation has once again honored ​Pinellas County with its Tree City USA designation.

PINELLAS COUNTY, FL — Just in time for Florida’s Arbor Day celebration on Friday, Jan. 18, the Arbor Day Foundation has once again honored Pinellas County with its Tree City USA designation.

Eleven Pinellas County municipalities also were recognized: Belleair, Clearwater, Dunedin, Gulfport, Largo, Oldsmar, Pinellas Park, Safety Harbor, Seminole, St. Petersburg and Tarpon Springs.

This is the second time in three years that the county has been honored for its commitment to effective urban forest management.

Although 113 communities in Florida received the designation, Pinellas is one of only three counties so honored.

“This recognition demonstrates the county’s commitment to the protection of our natural resources, as it directly impacts our residents’ quality of life,” said Pinellas County Public Works Director Addie Javed.

“Trees make our community a special place to live,” said Michael P. DePappa, section manager for Urban Forestry and Landscape Services. “They shade our homes, our businesses and our streets. They clean our air and water, reduce stormwater runoff, increase our property values and make our neighborhoods greener, safer and healthier.”

The Tree City USA program is sponsored by the Arbor Day Foundation in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service and National Association of State Foresters. To qualify for the designation, a community must meet four standards:

· Have a tree board or department responsible for trees on city/county-owned property.

· Have a tree care ordinance that forms the foundation of a tree care program.

· Have a community forestry program with an annual budget of at least $2 per capita.

· Have an Arbor Day observance and proclamation.

Pinellas County will recognize Arbor Day on the national holiday, April 26, with a proclamation at a regular Board of County Commissioners meeting and the annual Lakes & Ponds Education and Arbor Day Celebration at the Pinellas County Extension on April 27.

“Tree City USA communities see the impact an urban forest has in a community first hand,” said Dan Lambe, president of the Arbor Day Foundation. “Recognition brings residents together and creates a sense of community pride, whether through volunteer engagement or public education.”

According to the Florida Forest Service, Florida has one of the oldest Arbor Day celebrations in the nation, having held the statewide event on the third Friday in January since 1886.

Meanwhile, National Arbor Day has been observed since 1872 on the last Friday in April.

SOURCE: Patch.com