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Perhaps you’ve noticed in Clinton ...

Perhaps you’ve noticed the signs as you drive into town recognizing Clinton as a “Tree City USA.”

Maybe you’ve seen the Tree City flag flying at Riverfront Park and wondered exactly what it means.

It is a brief story of citizen action, and a budding effort to manage our community’s urban forest to make sure we all continue to receive the benefits these forests and individual trees offer.

In the spring 2015, five Clinton High students learned about the many environmental, economic, and social benefits afforded by urban and community forests, by competing in a national environmental competition called Envirothon.

That fall they stood at a City Council meeting and nervously asked the city to consider becoming certified as a Tree City USA through the National Arbor Day Foundation.

Five years later, Clinton is set to receive its third annual certification and the Tree Board, a group of interested volunteers, is preparing the city’s application for a fourth.

The Board recently recognized a desire to reach out to the community to share our knowledge and appreciation of trees.

This short article is our first attempt at doing so.

Clintonians are fortunate to live in a region blessed with an abundance of forests, parks, woodlots, and residential neighborhoods that house a large diversity of tree species.

These spaces provide us with beauty, shade, habitat for birds and wildlife, wild foods, and places for recreation or solitude.

Individual trees offer an ideal spot for a picnic, an anchor for a hammock, a spot to read a book or to simply sit and reflect.

Many of us have had a favorite tree at some point, maybe a memorial planted in honor of a loved one, a tree in whose branches you climbed as a child, or that big oak in the front yard of the first home you owned.

A strong tree represents stability in troubled times, faith in the coming year, and an anchor to the past.

And even in death, a tree can warm our hearths with energy stored over decades of life, the sunlight of summers now long since gone.

The Tree Board wants to share stories and information about the trees that shade our homes, cool our streets, filter our air, hold our soil, store carbon, and capture stormwater.

In coming articles, we will look at some of these benefits more closely.

Trees can also be a hazard, and we’ll talk about that as well.

We’ll also provide information about the Board’s and the city’s activities, about caring for trees, about threats to our community forests, and share stories about local trees of special interest.

We hope you will find them of some small value.