Little Elm Journal > News
Little Elm named 'Tree City USA'
Emily Hill/Staff photo - Little Elm Senior Planner Dusty McAfee presents the Tree City USA plaque to the Little Elm Town Council during a workshop meeting Tuesday.
Little Elm has been named a Tree City USA by The Arbor Day Foundation, a distinguished honor, for its efforts and commitment to urban forestry.
Sponsored in cooperation of the National Association of State Foresters and the USDA Forest service, the Tree City USA program is a designation that the community has shown modern landscape regulations, promoting responsible urban forestry practices and has prioritize trees in its budget.
"Little Elm got the designation because we have modern landscape regulations, aggressive treescape regulations and have made landscaping a priority in all of our construction projects," Dusty McAfee, Little Elm senior planner, said.
Little Elm joins 72 other Texas communities participating in this program. Local areas already participating include Denton, Frisco, The Colony, Flower Mound and Southlake. More than 3,400 communities in the nation are designated as a Tree City USA.
According to a release by ADF, Tree City USA communities recognize that trees promote healthier communities by filtering the air; create a moderate climate, conserve water and provide habitat for wildlife; reduce the heat island effect in urban areas caused by pavement and buildings; and reduce energy use and increase property values.
"We all benefit when communities like Little Elm place a high priority on planting and caring for trees, one of our nation's most beautiful resources," ADF Chief Executive and Founder John Rosenow said in the release. "We applaud Little Elm's elected officials, volunteers and citizens for providing vital care for its urban forest."
In order to achieve this honor, each city must have a tree board or department, a tree-care ordinance, a community forestry program with an annual budge of at least $2 per capita and an Arbor Day observance and proclamation.
McAfee said the landscape ordinance for the town is about six pages long and is tougher than Frisco and other communities.
"We basically have landscape regulations that lead the area," McAfee said.
The Planning and Zoning Board in Little Elm serves as the "tree board," and Little Elm has celebrated its Arbor Day in October instead of the national day in April since 2010. The Town of Little Elm has passed a resolution naming the third of October as Arbor Day. It is also noted in the resolution that the fall is the "optimal time to plant trees in Texas."
"If you plant a tree in May or June, you're begging for it to die," McAfee said.
In Little Elm, the single-family zoning ordinance requires homes to have two large canopy trees per lot. Also, some home garden centers do not always sell trees that are safe to plant in Little Elm's clay soils. The online website for the town offers a list of preferred planting at www.littleelm.org under Landscaping in the Planning and Zoning tab.
"Residents should educate themselves so that they plant correct tree varieties because some of the large garden centers sell trees that do not perform well in our region," McAfee said.
Reaching the goal of becoming a Tree City USA began in 2008 with the town's Comprehensive Plan.
"Citizens stated they wanted Little Elm to be a nicer community, visually, and this is one of the ways that we are able to respond," McAfee said.
Little Elm received two Tree City USA signs, a flag and plaque recognizing the designation. The town will install the signs near the town limit signs this spring.
"In some ways it's a designation that Little Elm development-wise has arrived," McAfee said.
For more information about Tree City USA, visit www.arborday.org/programs/treeCityUSA/benefits.cfm.
Copyright © 2013 - Star Local News