SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Department of Natural Resources on Monday named Champaign, Paxton, Rantoul, Savoy and Urbana as 2007 Tree City USA winners.
The designation recognizes communities that invest at least $2 per resident in forestry programs; adopt an ordinance outlining forest management and tree care standards for the community; conduct an annual Arbor Day tree planting ceremony; and legally designate a city official or volunteer to serve as tree advocate.
The program is sponsored by the National Arbor Day Foundation, the USDA Forest Service and the National Association of State Foresters. Each state is responsible for certifying its own Tree City USA winners.
This year, 186 Illinois communities were honored. Savoy received special recognition for attaining that designation for five consecutive years.
According to the Natural Resources Department, Urbana has been a Tree City USA for 31 years, since the program began. Champaign has been recognized for 22 years, Paxton for 18 years and Rantoul for 21 years.
Champaign, Urbana and Savoy were also among 47 Tree City USA communities in Illinois to receive the growth award for their efforts during the past year. Urbana has won the growth award 15 times and Champaign is receiving the Silver Certificate Milestone this year for being a 10-time growth award winner. This is the first year Savoy has been honored with the growth award, which requires a community to invest at least as much money in its tree program as it did the year before, among other things.
Illinois is No. 2 in the nation for number of Tree City communities and first in number of Tree City Growth Award communities, according to the Natural Resources Department.
"Recognition as a Tree City USA community is an important designation, and for more than a decade, Illinois has ranked among the top states in the nation for participation in this program," said a statement from Sam Flood, acting director of the department. "I applaud the local communities for their dedication to maintaining a healthy community forest."
The awards will be handed out at a ceremony in Springfield on March 29.