By Miriam Raftery
Photo: Creative commons image via Bing
October 22, 2021 (Lemon Grove) – Lemon Grove’s City Council voted unanimously on Tuesday to join Tree City USA, a national program that has provided 3.6 million trees to communities since its inception in 1976. Lemon Grove joins East County’s other cities (La Mesa, El Cajon and Santee) and 3,600 other communities in all 50 states.
Planting a thriving urban forest creates theses benefits for communities, according to Tree City USA, a project of the Arbor Day Foundation:
Trees help absorb the sounds of traffic in urban areas by 40%.
Neighborhoods with trees are seven to nine degrees cooler than those without.
Trees reduce energy costs up to 25% by shading buildings and protecting them from winter winds.
Homes with trees have higher property values.
Green space plays a major role in improving mental and physical health.
Planting and maintaining trees absorbs carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, mitigating the effects of climate change.
The city proclaimed its own Arbor Day on October 19 this year. Lemon Grove next needs to submit its application and plan future annual celebrations on the last Friday in April, the official Arbor Day.
In addition, the city must have a tree care ordinance, a community forestry program and an annual budget to maintain its trees (currently $3.79 million for the city’s 1,328 trees.)
Plus it must have a tree board or department, a role fulfilled by Lemon Grove’s Public Works Dept. with help from a local arborist company and landscaping firm.
The city’s Arbor Day proclamation states, “In Lemon Grove, trees are highly regarded and valued by the community and wherever they are planted are a source of joy and spiritual renewal.”
Councilman Jerry Jones said shade provided by trees has made some Lemon Grove streets noticeably cooler. Other councilmembers also praised the program’s merits.
Assistant City Manager Mike James told Councilmembers that staff will pursue grants and partnerships with other organizations to grow the city’s tree inventory “smartly” with “the right type of tree in the right place.”
According to the Tree City USA website, a passion for trees remains rooted in its member communities.
“Our story isn’t over,’ the site proclaims. “We hope to continue growing our network, city by city, until every American can live in a Tree City USA community.”