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Tree City with President Krendl

Otterbein part of rare Triple Crown designation by the Arbor Day Foundation

People often comment picturesque nature of Otterbein University’s campus. What many don’t know is that behind the scenes, some very intentional work has been done to make the campus not only beautiful, but also environmentally responsible. Thanks to that work, Otterbein has been named a Tree Campus USA by the Arbor Day Foundation.

Otterbein was honored alongside the City of Westerville, which received both the Tree City USA and Tree Line USA award, at a ceremony on March 6, the day of the Governor’s State of the State address on campus. The ceremony made Westerville the first city in Ohio to have the Triple Crown of tree programs: Tree Campus USA, Tree City USA, and Tree Line USA.

Tree Campus USA

The Tree Campus USA designation is awarded to two- and four-year accredited colleges and universities that meet or exceed five standards established by the Arbor Day Foundation relating to tree care and stewardship, education and community engagement.

The program recognizes the importance of trees, which help improve air quality and reduce storm runoff, provide food and shelter for local wildlife, shade homes and buildings, and improve privacy and aesthetic improvements when incorporated into commercial and residential landscaping.

“The Tree Campus USA designation is a reflection of the strategic work of Otterbein’s grounds team. We take a holistic approach to maintaining and improving our campus, with sustainability as a high priority,” said Troy Bonte, executive director of facilities management and planning.

While much of the work goes on behind the scenes, Otterbein has hosted public events, as well. The university celebrated Arbor Day in 2016 and 2017, and at Homecoming in September 2017 officials planted a red oak tree and handed out 100 saplings.

Tree City USA

Otterbein is located in the heart of Westerville, one of the original Tree City USA communities, and Ohio, the nation’s leader in Tree City USA communities.

Having this designation for 42 years is incredibly meaningful because of the consistency and dedication the City of Westerville has demonstrated to this initiative over time. Since the program began in 1976, many communities have lost their Tree City USA designations, either as a result of funding cuts or new goals and priorities. In fact, of the 42 communities that were named Tree Cities in the first year, only 16 have successfully retained their status for at least 40 years. Westerville is one of those communities.

The ODNR Division of Forestry assists communities in enhancing the quality of life within cities and villages through comprehensive urban forestry programs. Ohio’s original Tree City USA communities were: Springfield, Westerville and Wooster. In 1997, Ohio became the first state to have more than 200 Tree City USA communities.

In 2017, Ohio was recognized as the nation’s leader in Tree City USA communities for the 36th consecutive year with 243 participating cities, villages and townships, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR).

Tree Line USA

The City of Westerville owns and operates its own electric utility, and the Westerville Utility Division received its 20th Tree Line USA designation for its tree management efforts. The Tree Line USA program recognizes best practices in public and private utility arboriculture, demonstrating how trees and utilities can co-exist for the benefit of communities and citizens.

Learn more at www.arborday.org/programs/.