Pinellas County earns Tree City USA community designation again

Feb. 24, 2021

Pinellas County has earned the Arbor Day Foundation’s designation of Tree City USA for the fourth year in a row, as well as a Growth Award, for its commitment to effective urban forest management. 

Although more than 150 Florida communities received the Tree City USA designation, Pinellas is one of only four counties in the state that were so honored. Eleven Pinellas municipalities were recognized: Belleair, Clearwater, Dunedin, Gulfport, Largo, Oldsmar, Pinellas Park, Safety Harbor, Seminole, St. Petersburg and Tarpon Springs. 

“If ever there was a time for trees, now is that time,” Arbor Day president Dan Lambe wrote in a letter to County Administrator Barry A. Burton. “Communities worldwide are facing issues with air quality, water resources, personal health and well-being and energy use. Pinellas County is stepping up to do its part.”

The Growth Award is presented by the Arbor Day Foundation to participating Tree City USA communities that demonstrate higher levels of tree care and community engagement. The city of Tarpon Springs joined Pinellas County in being recognized. 

“Trees play a vital role in our everyday lives,” said Michael DePappa, section manager for Pinellas County Urban Forestry and Landscape Services. “When communities manage trees properly, our green infrastructure becomes more resilient, sustainable and equitable. Trees planted today will offer social, environmental and economic benefits for years to come.”

The Tree City USA is a national recognition program that began in 1976 and is sponsored by the Abor Day Foundation in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service and National Association of State Foresters. To qualify for the designation, a community must meet four standards:

  • Have a tree board or department responsible for trees on city/county-owned property.
  • Have a tree care ordinance that forms the foundation of a tree care program.
  • Have a community forestry program with an annual budget of at least $2 per capita.
  • Have an Arbor Day observance and proclamation.

Pinellas County will recognize Arbor Day and Earth Day with a joint proclamation at a Board of County Commissioners meeting on April 13. This is the fifth time since 2016 that the County has received the Tree City USA designation.