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Metro Celebrates Arbor Day; Mayor Launches Program Recognizing Nashville’s Commitment to Trees


Nashville, Tenn. - Nashville celebrated its 21st anniversary as a Tree City USA on March 10. Mayor Megan Barry, Vice Mayor David Briley, Metro Parks and Recreation Director Tommy Lynch, Metro Public Works Director, Mark Macy, the Metro Tree Advisory Committee, other city officials and citizens were all in attendance to celebrate. The Annual Celebration promoting the importance of trees to our community included several recognition awards, student “My Favorite Tree” essays, tree dedications, and the launch of a new Public Works program recognizing historic and specimen trees.

Mayor Megan Barry, Public Works Director Mark Macy, Parks and Recreation Director Tommy Lynch listen during ‘My Favorite Tree’ essay Brian Rucker, Tn State Urban Forester, Arbor Day Program Participants

At the celebration, Mayor Megan Barry read the arbor day proclamation and announced the new 'Historic and Specimen Tree' Program Public Works will manage, and beginning today, Nashvillians can nominate a tree for inclusion in the new program. Once a tree has been included in the program, it is honored with a plaque designating it’s distinction, and a deed restriction is registered with the Register of Deeds. The deed preserves the tree and protects it from being removed unless it is a hazard or it is determined to be not economically feasible to develop the parcel without removing the tree. Trees nominated for the Historic and Specimen Trees program must meet one of the following criteria and can be a single tree or group of trees:

  • The tree(s) is an exceptional size and age.
  • The trees(s) is/are commonly recognized as an established and familiar feature of the community, or can be confirmed as a significant part of the community’s heritage.
  • The tree(s) was/were planted by, or as a memorial to, or associated with, a nationally, regionally, or state recognized individual, group, event, or cause, and is confirmed to be more than 50 years old.

To be included in the program as a historic tree, the tree must have been a direct witness to a historic event or cultural movement that was significant nationally, regionally, or within the state and can be confirmed to date to that time. Once an application is submitted, the Metro Advisory Tree Committee will review the application, inspect the tree and make a recommendation if it deems the tree as meeting the criteria for the Historic and Specimen Tree program. More information about the new program, including the nomination form, is available at

“Nashville is fortunate to have so many citizens, businesses, community groups, and civic leaders who take pride in and are committed to preserving the beauty of our natural landscape and Nashville’s tree canopy,” said Mayor Barry. “We are a community that cares about our environment, and many dedicated volunteers come together to make the Arbor Day celebration meaningful. I am especially pleased to launch the Historic and Specimen Tree Program today, on Arbor Day. This is a program that recognizes and values the special trees in our county that are outstanding specimens or have historic relevance, and I hope that many trees will be nominated and honored through this new program.”

"In addition to providing health and environmental benefits, trees add beauty, character, color, and shape to our homes, our neighborhoods, and public spaces," said Mark Macy, Public Works Director. "Trees make a difference in our lives, and I am grateful to the Metro Tree Advisory Committee, volunteers, and other active groups who help not only today on Arbor Day, but all year round with raising public awareness about their value."

The Arbor Day Foundation recognition programs include Tree City USA, Tree Line USA and Tree Campus USA.

Nashville received its 21st Tree City USA designation in recognition of the Metro Tree Advisory Committee, the Metro Tree Ordinance, the expenditure of 2 dollars per capita on trees, and the hosting of the official Arbor Day Ceremony.

Nashville also received the distinguished Tree City Growth Award for the 4th time. This award recognizes new activities, including hosting tree plantings with 3 national partners (The Arbor Day Foundation, The American Forest Foundation, and The Alliance for Community Trees), the completion of the Downtown and East Nashville Street Tree Inventories, and the addition of Tree City signage countywide.

For the 8th year, Nashville Electric Service received a Tree Line USA Utility designation. This recognition is given to utilities that demonstrate their commitment to providing safe, efficient service while helping protect and preserve community trees.

Also recognized were 3 Tree Campus USA recipients. Belmont University, Trevecca Nazarene University and Tennessee State University all earned this designation by showcasing their dedication to the campus environment. The standards include a Campus Tree Advisory Committee, tree care plan with dedicated expenditures, an Arbor Day observance and hosting a service learning project.

Other ceremony highlights included the presentation of the George H. Cate Jr. Award for following or exceeding the spirit and intention of the Metro Nashville Tree Ordinance. This honor was presented to Jeff Livingston and the Urban Development Group, LLC. Urban Development Group earned this award for residential infill development for their project on Cahal Avenue in East Nashville where mature trees were preserved and 2 large bioswales were installed to collect and filter runoff and improve stormwater quality.

A highlight of the day was local 5th-graders reading their winning Arbor Day essays, ‘My Favorite Tree’. This year’s student winners are Ava Sjursen of Harding Academy, 2nd Place Winner, Tiana Williams of East Nashville Magnet School, and 3rd Place Winner, Alex Wang of Harding Academy.

A Nuttall Oak tree was planted in honor of Bruce Webster, retired state urban forester, and the Arbor Day ceremony concluded with planting of Burr Oak trees in memory of three great Nashvillians who died in 2015: Jean Crowe, Francis Guess and Mike Pigott.

Immediately following the program, attendees received Redbud, Chinkapin Oak or Sargent Crabapple Seedlings and enjoyed cookies donated by The Christie Cookie Company. The seedlings were provided by the Tennessee Department of Agriculture, Division of Forestry.

About The Arbor Day Foundation

The Arbor Day Foundation is a 501c3 non-profit organization that exists to inspire people to plant, nurture, and celebrate trees. Its starting point was an 1872 statewide tree-planting day in Nebraska, which resulted in an estimated 1,000,000 new trees. Tree City USA has been a program of the Arbor Day Foundation since 1976.

About the Metro Advisory Tree Committee

The Metro Tree Advisory Committee assists in educating the community and agencies of the Metropolitan Government regarding the value of trees and proper techniques for the planting, maintenance, and removal of trees.