Tree City USA: Recognizing a Commitment to Our Urban Forest

Arbor Day logoSome big news this Arbor Day … South Milwaukee is a Tree City!

On this Arbor Day, I am proud to announce South Milwaukee has been named a 2019 Tree USA by the Arbor Day Foundation, joining more than 3,600 across the country and close to 200 in Wisconsin. 

It is a recognition of our “commitment to effective urban forest management,” and it’s really about the people, processes and programs we have put in place in the last five years that are truly making a difference. I thank those teams, led by our Street and Engineering Departments, for making this a reality and continuing to live this commitment to urban forestry every day. 

We’ve come a long way since 2014

That includes stepping up our fight against emerald ash border, which has unfortunately led to the removal of more than 500 dead or dying ash trees across the city, and hundreds of others due to health, growth conditions and inappropriate size. 

But here is the good news, and why we have received this designation: We have committed to planting programs that will see nearly 300 trees planted in the public right of way in the last five years. This is thanks to efforts like our Adopt a Tree program, our school Arbor Day efforts (which we hope to resume in the fall), and other city-sponsored plantings. Combined with the county’s planting of hundreds of trees in Grant Park and other areas, and we are making real investments in our urban forest

We have a lot more ground to make up, and we are, with dozens of more plantings coming with the Milwaukee Avenue streetscaping project, and beyond. 

Of course, this honor is also about managing that forest, and we are doing that more effectively than we ever have, now through our Street Department. 

“Residents of the City of South Milwaukee should be proud to live in a community that makes the planting and care of trees a priority,” Arbor Day Foundation President Dan Lambe wrote in a letter to the city. “If ever there was a time for trees, now is that time. Communities worldwide are facing issues with air quality, water resources, personal health and well-being, and energy use. The City of South Milwaukee is stepping up to do its part. As a result of your commitment to effective urban forest management, you are helping to provide a solution to these challenges.”

We can not let up in the years ahead. Now that we’re a Tree City USA, I want to stay one, and that takes continued investment in this work, every day. 

Here is the Arbor Day Foundation press release …

Arbor Day Foundation Names City of South Milwaukee Tree City USA®

Lincoln, Neb. (April 25, 2020) City of South Milwaukee, Wisconsin, was named a 2019 Tree City USA® by the Arbor Day Foundation in honor of its commitment to effective urban forest management.

City of South Milwaukee achieved Tree City USA recognition by meeting the program’s four requirements: a tree board or department, a tree care ordinance, an annual community forestry budget of at least $2 per capita and an Arbor Day observance and proclamation.

“Tree City USA communities see the impact an urban forest has in a community first hand,” said Dan Lambe, president of the Arbor Day Foundation. “The trees being planted and cared for by City of South Milwaukee are ensuring that generations to come will enjoy to a better quality of life. Additionally, participation in this program brings residents together and creates a sense of civic pride, whether it’s through volunteer engagement or public education.”

If ever there was a time for trees, now is that time. Communities worldwide are facing issues with air quality, water resources, personal health and well-being, energy use, and protection from extreme heat and flooding. The Arbor Day Foundation recently launched the Time for Trees initiative to address these issues, with unprecedented goals of planting 100 million trees in forests and communities and inspiring 5 million tree planters by 2022. 

With Tree City USA recognition, City of South Milwaukee has demonstrated a commitment to effective urban forest management and doing its part to help address these challenges for City of South Milwaukee residents now and in the future.

More information on the program is available at

About the Arbor Day Foundation: The Arbor Day Foundation is a million member nonprofit conservation and education organization with the mission to inspire people to plant, nurture, and celebrate trees. More information is available at


Filed under South Milwaukee

6 responses to “Tree City USA: Recognizing a Commitment to Our Urban Forest

  1. Congrats! You are doing great work for our watersheds!

  2. Betsy

    Great work, South Milwaukee, on getting a healthy diversity of street trees re-established! Improved water and air quality, as well as great habitat can be ours with continued efforts. And aesthetics: I love the look of the arched branches over our streets.


    Trees add value to neighborhoods and the community as a whole. They enhance a city by adding beauty, shade and homes for birds and other wild animals. Look in any neighborhood or down any street without trees and you will see despair!

  4. bobbob

    So the CITY cut down 500 trees and planted 300 . I think that means we are minus 200 trees + some .

  5. Jim

    What are the requirements to the City?

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