MAMMOTH SPRING -- Ozarka College, along with the city of Mammoth Spring, hosted a Tree City USA reception April 12 in the meeting room of the fire station at Mammoth Spring.
Tree City USA is a community improvement program sponsored by the National Arbor Day Foundation in cooperation with the National Association of State Foresters, USDA Forest Service, and the U.S. Conference of Mayors and National League of Cities.
Special guests included President Dusty Johnston from Ozarka College, Urban Forestry Coordinator Patti Erwin from the Arkansas Forestry Commission and Dan Johns from the Arkansas Department of Forestry.
Ozarka College recently received a forestry grant, and an Ozarka spokesperson said the college has teamed with the city of Mammoth Spring to promote Tree City USA. The day of the reception the city of Melbourne presented an application to Evans for it to become a member of the Tree City USA group as well.
Johns presented Mammoth Spring Mayor Jean Pace with two signs and a plaque so all who visit the city can see that Mammoth Spring is a Tree City USA. Pace said the signs would be placed near city limit signs on Highway 9 and Highway 63 South.
Members of the Mammoth Spring Garden Club, the Thayer Garden Club and interested persons from Hardy and surrounding areas attended the reception.
Evans said to qualify for Tree City USA, a town or city must meet four standards established by the National Arbor Day Foundation and the National Association of State Foresters.
The standards are:
* Establish a tree board or department.
* Adopt a tree care ordinance.
* Have a community forestry program with an annual budget of at least $2 per capita.
* Have an Arbor Day observance and proclamation.
Evans said the four standards were designed so that no community would be excluded because of size.
"The smallest town in Arkansas to become a Tree City USA community is Beaver with a population of 95. Ten new Tree City towns joined our ranks last year, including Mammoth Spring," Evans said.
"Being a Tree City presents a desirable image to citizens, businesses and future businesses. Signs at the entrance of the community tell visitors that the community takes pride and the designation indicates a high quality of life," Evans said.
"Becoming involved in the Tree City USA program has focused our attention on replacing trees lost due to storm damage and planting trees to provide shade in areas in our city park, the school campus and at a river access area," Pace said.
She said prior to becoming involved in Tree City USA little or no attention had been paid to the trees in public areas of the city.
"Last year we provided trees and instruction for planting and care of the trees for the fourth grade students in our public school. This year we planted 200 trees in three public areas in the city," the mayor said.
Pace said without the program Mammoth Spring would have continued to lose trees to storm damage, disease and age, with no plan to replace them. "The Tree City program has caused us to focus on the vital need to replenish our earth with trees for their beauty as well as their importance to our health," she said.