For the past 40 years, the city of McPherson’s efforts in urban forest management have earned ‘Tree City USA’ honors from the Arbor Day Foundation.

It is an honor that Mac has achieved this once again in 2017.

“This just shows our commitment to having a quality urban forestry program to meet the demands set forth by the Arbor Day Foundation. To be named Tree City USA, you have to have a tree board that’s active and you have to have city ordinances that pertain to the care of trees. You also have to spend at least $2 per person in your community toward tree-related activities. And we’ve been able to meet that criteria for the last 40 years,” Kody Kraemer, cemetery sexton and city forester for McPherson said.

Every year, the city completes a lengthy application to be considered for the award from the Arbor Day Foundation. The foundation then selects honored cities the following spring.

“The reason why its awarded later is they want to see that you budget for community forestry programs. So in January of this year, I started putting everything together from 2017... This is then reviewed by our regional forester out of the Wichita area. He reviews it (application) then submits it to the National Arbor Day Foundation committee,” he said.

While the city has been recognized for the past 40 years, Kraemer said every year they are honored is just as important as the last.

“The longevity of it says a lot. It has almost become an expectation but when you have good services, those services become expectations. In the state of Kansas, there are only a few communities that have had this recognition for more than 40 years and this program (Tree City USA) has existed for less than 45. So our city was quick to embrace this and has stuck with it the entire time,” he said.

Along with the Tree City USA designation, McPherson has also been given a Growth Award from the foundation for exceptional tree care.

As Kraemer works first-hand with McPherson’s trees, he sees the beauty they offer the city.

“We are blessed with some really old specimens. If you look at Lakeside Park, some of the old Red Oaks and Pine Oaks are just massive. We’re carrying on in the shadows of greatness with trees that people planted two-to-three generations ago,” he said. “We’re also blessed with residents that embrace the same idea so even on private property, we have a lot of beautiful trees.”

Kramer said he is proud of McPherson residents for helping the city care for its trees, but he also wants them to be aware of some programs the city offers.

“The city has a tree reimbursement program that encourages residents to participate in tree planting. So we reimburse residents 50 percent of the purchased price of a tree to encourage more and more trees to be planted,” he said.

While McPherson continues to grow its tree population, Kramer said he hopes to continue the success represented by a Tree City USA award.

“Whether you use the word expectation or not, it really is. When I took over a few years ago, it was just understood that we would strive for that. I’m not saying we will get it ever year, but that’s our goal,” he said. 

Contact Brooke Haas by email at bhaas@mcphersonsentinel.com or follow her on Twitter @ MacSentinel.