Cincinnati Celebrates 40 years as a Tree City USA Community

A group of laughing volunteers plants a tree in the mud.

Cincinnati Celebrates 40 years as a Tree City USA Community

Happy Arbor Day everyone! We at Cincinnati Parks thank you for your support.

Today, we are thrilled to celebrate the City’s designation as a Tree City USA (TCUSA) community for the 40th year by the Arbor Day Foundation, showing Cincinnati’s decades long commitment to effective urban forest management and the environment.

To honor this achievement a Mayoral Proclamation from Mayor John Cranley was read in Eden Park, the home to Cincinnati’s first Arbor Day celebration. The City of Cincinnati and Cincinnati Parks Urban Forestry staff also marked the occasion by planting 25 trees (3 maples and 22 conifers) gifted by Astronomer Inc., who planted them with volunteers from the Lions Club of Cincinnati.

In the 40 years since first receiving this designation, Cincinnati has planted 65,000 trees throughout the city. The benefits of an efficient Urban Forestry program are vast, and the City of Cincinnati is fortunate to have an achieved and historied program within Cincinnati Parks. The program works to bring every Cincinnati neighborhood up to 40% tree canopy coverage to help reverse the urban heat island effect and air pollution. A well-organized tree canopy enhances the quality of life for residents, reduces energy costs and helps with storm water management. Just one large deciduous tree can control 400 to 1,000 gallons of stormwater reducing soil erosion and managing flooding from rainfall for homeowners.

“It is remarkable for Cincinnati to be recognized as a Tree City USA community for the 40th time,” said Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley. “Our Urban Forestry program is a hallmark of our Parks Department and contributes greatly to the quality of life in our neighborhoods. The City Administration and I intend to continue investing in our tree canopy to further build on the commitment we made decades ago to urban tree conservation and sustainability.”

Urban forests provide front line protection by reducing harmful stormwater runoff, cooling our neighborhoods, intercepting particulates that cause damage to our lungs and reducing effects from climate change.

Cincinnati Parks Director Kara Kish offered her thanks, “Trees offer a proven calming effect for each of us through canopy on our streetscapes and in the parks. Our urban forest improves our well-being, stabilizes our neighborhoods and increases property values. Today, we celebrate 40 years of Cincinnati’s Tree City USA designation and recognize our City leaders, past and present, whose vision started our urban forestry program. Our canopy is managed by Parks’ urban foresters, whose pioneering innovations are among the best in the nation.”

“Everyone benefits when elected officials, volunteers and committed citizens in communities like Cincinnati make smart investments in urban forests,” said Matt Harris, chief executive of the Arbor Day Foundation. “Trees bring shade to our homes and beauty to our neighborhoods, along with numerous economic, social and environmental benefits.”


As the 1970s ended, Mayor Bobbie Sterne led the creation of a forestry program for Cincinnati. She recognized the need to hire professional forestry staff to help remove a thousand tall tree stumps throughout Cincinnati. This began an initiative to remove declining trees while fostering new trees to last generations. Over the decades, Cincinnati Parks Urban Forestry revolutionized street trees from four tree species in declining condition to that of tree-lined streets planted with diverse shade trees like Oak, Maple, Bald Cypress, and Kentucky Coffee Tree, and ornamentals such as Serviceberry, Tree Lilac, Crabapple and Sophora.
As we work toward our 50th TCUSA anniversary, Cincinnati Parks Urban Forestry continues to adopt innovative management approaches such as Geographic Information System (GIS)-based inventory and work order tracking to maintain our urban forest in a better and healthier condition for all our neighborhoods and residents.

How You Can Help

Our residents are vital in helping maintain and build our city’s tree canopy to benefit everyone in Cincinnati. Planting a tree is one of the simplest ways to help. Residents can also participate in the following:
• Become a Cincinnati Parks volunteer by visiting Cincinnati Parks Better Impact page. Organized volunteer events happen year round across city parks and greenspaces.
• Get a free MadTree to plant at home by applying to the 2021 Cincinnati Parks’ Fall ReLeaf program brought to you by MadTree Brewing and the Cincinnati Parks Foundation. Applications open August 1st 2021 on www.cincinnatiparks.com.

About the Tree City USA Program

The Tree City USA program is a community improvement initiative of the Arbor Day Foundation in cooperation with the National Association of State Foresters and the USDA Forest Service. Cincinnati has achieved Tree City USA status for the 40th year by maintaining four core standards of sound urban forestry management: maintaining a tree board or department, having a community tree ordinance, spending at least $2 per capita on urban forestry and honoring Arbor Day. The Growth Award was also bestowed to Cincinnati recognizing major milestones and activities to build a sustainable community forestry program.

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.