Plain City earns Tree City USA status

The village of Plain City held its first annual Arbor Day celebration last year, planting a memorial tree at Pastime Park. This year, the celebration is set for April 22 and includes a tree and shrub giveaway, seed giveaway, and youth activities.

(Posted April 2, 2024)

By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor

The village of Plain City has stepped up its efforts when it comes to urban forest management. As a result, it has earned its first Tree City USA designation through the Arbor Day Foundation.

An awards ceremony is planned for May 9 in Worthington. Village representatives, including Denton Kitts, will be on hand to accept a plaque and Tree City USA signs to post around the village.

“We started the process toward becoming a Tree City in mid- to late-2022. There’s a lot that goes into it,” said Kitts, parks and recreation assistant.

To qualify, a municipality must establish a tree commission, create or update its policy governing planting and caring for public trees, spend at least $2 per resident annually on trees and tree maintenance, and hold an annual Arbor Day celebration, among other requirements.

 Policies, guidelines, and education

Plain City now has an active tree commission that meets at 6:30 p.m. the last Tuesday of each month at the municipal building. The public is welcome to attend.

Village council approved an updated tree policy that lists the species the village can plant on public property, sets guidelines for how to plant and care for the trees, and outlines responsibilities of the village and homeowners when it comes to public trees.

A forester from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) led pruning and planting workshops last year for village employees. Personnel from the village of Mount Sterling also attended those workshops. Mount Sterling is earning its first Tree City USA designation this year, as well.

“We’ve been working with Mount Sterling through this process. We’ve bounced ideas back and forth with their tree committee,” Kitts said.

As for the per-resident spending minimum, Kitts said the village has already been meeting that requirement.

He also noted that the tree commission will encourage any new housing developers to choose a variety of trees, rather than just one species, for their landscaping plans.

Events

Plain City is hosting several events to engage the community in tree-related projects and promote environmental stewardship.

First up is a tree planting workshop set for April 6 at 10 a.m. at Pastime Park. An ODNR forester will provide instruction. The rain date is April 13.

This year marks the second year Plain City is holding an Arbor Day celebration. This year’s event is set for April 22, 4-7 p.m., at Pastime Park and is a combined Earth Day/Arbor Day recognition. The village is giving away 2,000 tree saplings and shrubs to area residents. The Madison County Master Gardeners are giving away garden seeds. The Plain City Leo Club, a youth branch of the Lions Club, is hosting activities geared toward youths.

The village also is holding an Arbor Day celebration on April 26 at Plain City Elementary during which first-graders will help to plant a tree. This event is not open to the public.

The story walk trail at Pastime Park will feature a tree-themed book in April and part of May. Pages of the book will be on display, in sequence, at stops along the trail.

Students from Tolles Career & Technical Center prune trees on future park property along Big Darby Creek in Plain City.

Tolles partnership

In related news, the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency awarded Plain City a $31,000 environmental education grant last year. The village is using the funds to plant and prune trees, remove invasive species, and remove trash at future park land along Big Darby Creek.

Students in outdoor career programs at Tolles Career & Technical Center are helping with the project. Since this past fall, they have been working with village crews at the site once or twice a month and will continue to do so through the remainder of this school year and into the fall. The project gives students hands-on experience in the field.

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