Story City receives two Tree City USA awards

Todd ThorsonStaff
Story City receives two Tree City USA awards

The City of Story City and its Trees Forever Program was recently awarded with the 2015 Tree City USA Growth Award at the 26th Annual Community Forestry Awards Luncheon held in Des Moines on Thursday, April 7. The awards ceremony was hosted by the Arbor Day Foundation and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources Forestry Bureau at the Forte Banquet and Conference Center.

Communities from all across Iowa were represented at the luncheon. A total of 82 communities were also recognized with Tree City USA recertifications in 2015. And of those 82, only 18 communities were awarded the 2015 Tree City USA Growth Award; Story City being one of those recognized.

To receive the growth award, cities must provide, at a minimum, education and public relations, partnerships, planning and management, and tree planting and maintenance in their communities.

“The growth award is designed to not only recognize achievement, but to also communicate new ideas and help the leaders of all Tree City USA’s plan for improving community tree care,” said Mike Jensen, President of the Story City Trees Forever.

The banquet began with a welcome from Des Moines Mayor Frank Cownie and Davenport City Arborist Chris Johnson. State Forester Bureau Chief Paul Tauke of the Department of Natural Resources gave some opening remarks, and DNR Deputy Director Bruce Trautman read the Arbor Day Proclamation signed by Governor Terry Branstad.

Heath Ellis, President of the Iowa Urban Tree Council, also spoke, as did Carole Teator of Trees Forever, who thanked the sponsors of the event, Alliant Energy, Black Hills Energy, Iowa Department of Natural Resources, ITC, Mid-American Energy and Trees Forever.

The key note speaker was Dr. Deborah Tootle, University Extension Community Development with Iowa State University and the University of Wisconsin, who presented “99 Communities in Iowa: Making Space for Participation”, which, acccording to Jensen, “gave us lots of good ideas on how to get people involved in our communities and volunteering”.

Following lunch, a call-to-action was given by Founding President and CEO of Trees Forever Shannon Ramsy, who spoke about working together to get city officials and community members involved in lobbying legislators to fund the clean water bill, provide money for woodlands and to control pests such as the Emerald Ash Borer and Longhorn Beetle.

“This is very important to smaller commuities like Story City,” stated Jensen, “as we are now blessed with the job of removal and replacement of, and/or treating, many, many ash trees, not only on city property, but the public also has many ash trees on their own property to deal with.”

Awards were then presented, including the council awards by Dr. Jeff Iles, Professor of Horticulture at Iowa State University, and Tree City USA awards by Emma Hanigan, Urban Forestry Coordinator, Department of Natural Resources.

“Story City is proud of being able to say we have earned these awards for the past 20 years,” Jensen said. “None of this would have been possible without the help of the Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts, Girl Scouts, their parents, our Story City Trees Forever organization, funding through grants from Black Hills Energy and matching funds from the City of Story City. In the past 20 years over 2,500 trees have been added to our community, helping make it a more beautiful, healthy, environmentally friendly place to live, play, work, raise our families and to be proud of.”