For the 22nd consecutive year, the City of Hot Springs was named a Tree City USA® by the Arbor Day Foundation in honor of the City’s commitment to effective urban forest management.
Hot Springs achieved the 2021 Tree City USA recognition by meeting the program's four requirements: a tree board or department, a tree care ordinance, an annual community forestry budget of at least $2 per capita and an Arbor Day observance and proclamation.
Allen Bates is the City’s Urban Forester and one of the City’s two certified arborists (the other being Freddy Padilla of the Urban Forestry crew), and he hosted tree giveaways in 2021 to supplement the lack of the Arbor Day event in Hot Springs, which had to be canceled in 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Arbor Day event is returning this year, and it is scheduled for 9 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. on Friday, April 29, at Entergy Park, which will be closed to the public from 7 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Fifth-grade students from Fountain Lake, Jessieville and Mountain Pine school districts will be attending the Arbor Day event, which will feature eight educational stations through which the students rotate to get hands-on information about a range of topics. The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission is scheduled to bring their fish tank and there will be a sawmill demonstration. Others involved will be Arkansas Urban Forestry Council, Arkansas Department of Agriculture Forestry Division, Entergy, West Tree Service and U.S. Corps of Engineers. Mayor Pat McCabe will present an Arbor Day Proclamation, and the program will conclude with the planting of a tree at the park. City departments/divisions that are involved include Parks & Trails, Stormwater, Street and Urban Forestry.
"On behalf of the Arbor Day Foundation, I congratulate Hot Springs on earning recognition as a 2021 Tree City USA," said Dan Lambe, president of the Arbor Day Foundation. "We are so thrilled that Hot Springs takes pride in creating a community that places unique value on the planting and caring of trees.”
The Tree City USA program is one of the Arbor Day Foundation’s earliest programs, but its relevance in recent years has become more of a priority.
“It has become increasingly clear of the value and importance that trees hold for our future. Cities and towns across the globe are facing challenges when it comes to air quality, water resources, personal health and well-being, and energy use. Hot Springs shows its residents and peers that they are forward-thinking and eager to combat these issues. By showing your dedication to urban forestry, you demonstrate a commitment to a brighter, greener future,” said Lambe.
More information on the program is available at https://arborday.org/TreeCityUSA.
PHOTO: City of Hot Springs Urban Forester Allen Bates, right, accepts Tree City USA accolade materials from Regine Skelton, county forester with the Arkansas Department of Agriculture – Forestry Division, District #5.