Cullman celebrates 36 years as Tree City USA

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Forestry officials present Tree-City USA flag to Mayor Woody Jacobs.

Poster winners recognized

CULLMAN, Ala. – The City of Cullman’s 36th Tree City Dedication/Arbor Week Celebration ceremony was held Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2024, on the lawn of Cullman City Hall.

Arbor Week Celebration

The ceremony began with Mayor Woody Jacobs proclaiming the week of Feb.18-24, 2024, Arbor Week in the city of Cullman. Arbor Day began in 1872 when J. Sterling Morton proposed to the Nebraska Board of Agriculture that a special day be set aside for the planting of trees. This holiday, called Arbor Day, was first observed with the planting of more than a million trees in Nebraska, and is now observed throughout the nation and the world. In Alabama, Arbor Week is recognized each year during the last full week of February.

In conjunction with Arbor Week each year, local fifth graders participate in the Arbor Day Poster Contest. This year’s poster contest them was “Trees are Terrific … in Cities and Towns!” Posters were judged by the Cullman Tree Commission and a first- and second-place poster selected from each participating school. In addition, an overall winner was selected. This year, West Elementary School, Cullman Christian School, St. Paul’s Lutheran School and Sacred Heart Elementary School participated in the contest.

“It’s great that kids participate in this poster contest and learn about the role trees play in our cities and towns,” said Jacobs. “We appreciate you teachers and parents for encouraging students to participate.”

Second-place winners in the poster contest were Lexi Scheer (Cullman Christian), Ryan Keough (Sacred Heart) and Jase Holderfield (St. Paul’s). Each of these students received a certificate and a $25 check from Jacobs.

First-place winners in the poster contest were Harper Mitchell (Cullman Christian), Kristyn Contreras (Sacred Heart), Trendyn Thomason (St. Paul’s) and Avery Maples (West Elementary). Each of these students received a certificate and a $50 check from Jacobs.

The overall winner this year was Mitchell. Barry Slatton, chairman of the Cullman Tree Commission, presented Mitchell with a beautiful handmade tree-themed quilt. He explained that the quilt was made locally and sponsored by Cullman Savings Bank.

Tree City dedication

Cullman was recently named a Tree City USA for the 36th consecutive year by the Arbor Day Foundation. Cullman achieved Tree City USA recognition by meeting the program’s four requirements: having a tree commission, having a tree care ordinance, having an annual community forestry budget of at least $2 per capita and having an annual Arbor Day observance and proclamation.

Dan Lambe, president of the Arbor Day Foundation, sent the following statement: “Tree City USA communities see the positive effects of an urban forest firsthand. The trees being planted and cared for by Cullman are ensuring that generations to come will enjoy a better quality of life. Additionally, participation in this program brings residents together and creates a sense of civic pride, whether it’s through volunteer engagement or public engagement.”

Cullman also received the Arbor Day Foundation’s Growth Award again this year. To receive the Growth Award, a community must be recognized as a Tree City USA and earn at least 10 points per calendar year by reaching various milestones and conducting or participating in activities that help build long-term sustainable community forestry.

“With the additional recognition of a Growth Award, your community has demonstrated an outstanding commitment to sustainable urban forestry management,” stated Lambe in a letter received by Jacobs last month. “Over the last few years, the value and importance of trees has become increasingly clear. Cities and towns across the globe are facing issues of air quality, water resources, personal health and well-being, and energy use. Cullman has taken steps to a brighter, greener future.”

Forester Mary Claire Smith and Forestry Specialist Jason Downs with the Alabama Forestry Service presented the Tree City USA and Growth Award materials to Jacobs. Included in the materials was a new Tree City flag that will replace last year’s flag at Cullman City Hall.

“Cullman has always placed an emphasis on planting and caring for trees,” stated Jacobs. “A few years back, we planted some blight-resistant chestnut trees at the Palomino RV Park to try to bring back the beauty of those trees that historically grew in Cullman and Cullman County. We will continue to plant and care for our trees in the city of Cullman.”

Additional information

Planting trees in an urban space comes with myriad benefits past the recognition of this program.

Urban tree plantings:

  • Help reduce energy consumption by up to 25%, which will reduce general energy costs and help with the overall cooling of the city as well.
  • Benefit the community, as properly placed trees increase property values from 7-20%.
  • Positively affect the local ecosystem by helping clean water and create animal habitats to encourage biodiversity.

To learn more about the Tree City USA program, visit www.arborday.org/TreeCityUSA or contact the Arbor Day Foundation at 1-888-448-7337.

To learn more about the Alabama Forestry Commission visit www.forestry.alabama.gov or contact the Cullman office at 256-734-0573. The Cullman office is located at 1527 Sportsman Lake Road NW.

To learn about the FAWN program, visit www.cullmanswcd.com/education or contact the Cullman County Soil & Water Conservation District at 256-734-1431.

More information on forestry and natural resources can also be found at www.aces.edu or by calling the Cullman County Extension Office at 256-737-9386. The Extension Office is located at 402 Arnold St. NE, Suite G-1.

To find out more about the Cullman City Arborist or Tree Commission visit www.cullmanal.gov/depts/trees or contact the Mayor’s Office at 256-775-7102 or lwest@cullmanal.gov.