The Ottumwa Courier

April 17, 2014

Ottumwa awarded as Tree City U.S.A. again

Courier staff writer

---- — OTTUMWA — Having big, beautiful trees throughout a community can help spruce up a city and make it more attractive to visitors. Ottumwa has shown a dedication to making the community more green and inviting, and the efforts have been recognized by the Arbor Day Foundation, which named Ottumwa a Tree City U.S.A. community.

This is not the first time Ottumwa has received a Tree City U.S.A. Award. According to Gene Rathje, Director of the Ottumwa Park Department, this was 24th year in a row the city has gotten the award, meaning the city puts an emphasis on maintaining the trees in the community.

Not only did the city get named as a Tree City U.S.A. recipient, but it also was named a beneficiary of the Tree City U.S.A. Growth Award, which is awarded to communities that show growth in community forestry.

“We have to show the City of Ottumwa spent more time and money in 2013 than in 2012 in plating, trimming and removing trees,” Rathje said.

This is the fifth year in a row that Ottumwa was given a Growth Award, which shows the community is continuing to put importance on planting and caring for its public trees.

In order for a community to be considered for the Tree City U.S.A. Award, it has to meet four core standards. It has to maintain a tree board or department, have a community tree ordinance, spend at least $2 per capita on urban forestry and celebrate Arbor Day, which was set as April 25 by a proclamation from Mayor Tom Lazio at Tuesday’s City Council meeting.

According to the Arbor Day Foundation, there are more than 3,400 communities nationwide that are designated as Tree City U.S.A. Award recipients, and Ottumwa was one of approximately 500 communities that received the Growth Award.

— To see reporter Josh Vardaman's Twitter feed, go to @CourierJosh