The trees planted in the city park are just one reason Chatfield continues to qualify for its Tree City USA designation.  GRETCHEN MENSINK LOVEJOY/CHATFIELD NEWS
The trees planted in the city park are just one reason Chatfield continues to qualify for its Tree City USA designation. GRETCHEN MENSINK LOVEJOY/CHATFIELD NEWS
Tony Lammers speaks for the trees. Well, he speaks for Chatfield's trees, at least.

"We have been a Tree City USA for 22 years now," said Lammers, Chatfield's maintenance foreman, "and there is a sign on both of the city signs coming into town on Highway 52. We get notified in January of each year if we qualify for the award or not."

The city of Chatfield has once again been named a Tree City USA and is proud of its tall oaks, maples and pines - trees that shade the city park, stand watch over historic homes and grow from saplings in the newer developments in town.

According to the Arbor Day Foundation's website, "The Tree City USA program is a national program that provides the framework for community forestry management for cities and towns across America. Communities achieve Tree City USA status by meeting four core standards of sound urban forestry management established by The Arbor Day Foundation and the National Association of State Foresters: maintaining a tree board or department, having a community tree ordinance, spending at least $2 per capita on urban forestry and celebrating Arbor Day. These standards were established to ensure that every qualifying community would have a viable tree management plan and program. Participating communities have demonstrated a commitment to caring for and managing their public trees. Together, the more than 3,400 Tree City USA communities serve as home to more than 135 million Americans."

It went on, "It is important to note that they were also designed so that no community would be excluded because of size."

Lammers pointed out that Chatfield's city crew is responsible for caring for the trees on city property and boulevards, and that trees are undeniably an asset to the community.

Furthermore, within the past year, the city council voted to replace the trees that had to be removed from its downtown business district due to their size and issues with the sidewalk, and the saplings seem to have weathered the long winter quite well.

"We do maintain and manage all the street trees, along with the trees in our parks," Lammers reiterated. "They do add a lot of beauty to the streets and the parks along with the shade. They help with cleaner air, help with the storm water runoff and they also increase property values."

Locally, good forestry practices are taught to Chatfield Elementary School's fourth graders, offering a chance for students to learn why it's important to plant a tree and what a grown tree can do to make life in town better.

Lammers stated the city hasn't offered trees for sale to its residents, but has given saplings to students in the hope that they take them home and plant them.

"Our observance is always with the fourth grade students, along with the DNR forestry department, and we plant a tree and talk about the trees," he concluded.

That might just mean there'll be more people to speak for the trees and ensure that Chatfield remains a Tree City USA for another 22 years or longer.