• Thousands of communities across the country consider their tree canopy a source of pride and continually strive to improve it — and through the Tree City USA program they're garnering national attention and recognition for it.


    Tree City USA® is an elite designation for communities that meet minimum standards set by the Arbor Day Foundation for community forestry programs. Texas A&M Forest Service foresters help leaders qualify for, apply and maintain the distinction.


    Founded by the Arbor Day Foundation in 1976, the Tree City USA program provides assistance and recognition to incorporated communities and military bases that maintain a continuously-active tree management program. Cities of any population — from less than 100 to more than 1 million — can qualify.


    See if your Texas community has received the Tree City USA designation.

    Tree City USA Texas 2021 Infographic

     + Enrollment Criteria
    Standard 1: A Forestry Department or Tree Board
    Your community must maintain a professional staff arborist or forestry department or have a tree board—or both. A tree board is a group of concerned citizens, usually volunteers, charged by ordinance to guide a comprehensive city tree management program. 


    Standard 2: A Public Tree Care Ordinance
    The ordinance should determine public tree-care policies for planting, maintenance and removals. Check out this Model Public Tree Care Ordinance Tutorial to review an ordinance and/or create your own.


    Standard 3: A Community Forestry Program with an Annual Budget of at Least $2/Capita
    Your community must budget and spend at least $2 per capita, annually, for its forestry program. In determining the size of your community's budget, consider all funds spent for tree care. Along with the budget for the street tree department or board, include items such as the park department's tree expenditures, dead tree removal and other labor and administrative expenses associated with the management of the city forest. 


    Standard 4: An Arbor Day Observance and Proclamation 
    The mayor or town council that oversees your community must issue a proclamation declaring the observance of Arbor Day in your community, and an Arbor Day celebration must take place. 


    Download (PDF, 1.4MB) the Tree City USA information packet.


     + Applicants
    After meeting the above standards, request a user ID and password from the Arbor Day Foundation’s online application site. Complete the form and attach supporting materials. At a minimum, the application needs to include the following attachments: 


    • Names of tree board members or city officials in charge of managing community trees. 
    • Copy of your Public Tree Care Ordinance. 
    • One page summary of tree related expenditures for the most recent 12-month period. 
    • One page summary of annual accomplishments including estimated number of trees planted, pruned and removed. 
    • Arbor Day proclamation signed within the past year by the current mayor. This is to certify that the current city leadership supports the tree program. 
    • A news release, press clipping, web posting, brochure, photo, video or other such item from the Arbor Day ceremony. This is to ascertain that an Arbor Day event of some kind took place in the community.
    • Be sure to apply for recertification each year by December 31.


     + Growth Awards
    For those who go above and beyond the call of duty, there is the Tree City USA Growth Award. Certified communities can qualify if they initiate new tree management activities or expand current activities over the previous year.


    The Growth Award also qualifies a community to be considered for the Tree City USA of the Year Award. 


     + Tree Board University

    Strengthen your advocacy through Tree Board University. This online training helps you learn about trees, people and citizen advisory roles.