City hopes to hang onto Tree City title

By Santosh Rao
Hampshire, IL (July 22, 2007)- After three years as a Tree City USA town, Hampshire now hopes to keep the title. Village Trustee Orris Ruth said the village needs to take on a number of planned initiatives for the public tree-care program.

“It requires the village to set up a tree inventory and develop a tree management plan to look after the trees, replace dead trees and plant so many new trees per year, based upon the population of the village,” said Ruth, who chairs the village’s fields and trails committee.
To qualify for the title, the village had to meet four standards determined by the National Arbor Day Foundation, which sponsors the Tree City USA program in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service and a national forestry association.
It provides support and recognition for urban and community forestry programs around the country. In addition to an ordinance dictating tree care on village property, Hampshire had to establish a dedicated tree board or department, create a community program with an annual budget of at least $2 per capita and officially recognize Arbor Day.
Since the Tree City program was initiated, the village has held two plantings annually, in the spring and fall, to replace dead trees, Mayor Jeffrey Magnussen said. “We’re very cognizant about taking care of the environment and planting trees that are oxygen-producing to improve the air quality,” he said.
Ruth said initial funds for the program came from an industrial company that had cut down trees on land along Gast Road. “The trees that were cut down either had to be replanted or the company, an Asian food distribution center, had to pay for them, and I think the village ended up with over $1,000,” he said. Magnussen said no special tax or fees had been imposed on village residents, and general fund dollars are set aside in the village’s annual budget.
“The cost of planting a tree can be quite high, between $400 and $500 a tree, so on any given year, just on tree replacement alone, we spend upward of $20,000,” he said. “Even if we weren’t a Tree City USA community, we would spend the same amount of money, because the benefits are long-term,” Magnussen said. “It’s healthy for the community in all sorts of ways, and it’s good for the environment.”
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