(CBS Detroit) — The Department of Natural Resources recently announced two new cities designated with the Tree City USA honor.

Madison Heights and Orion Charter Township received the Tree City USA honor for promoting and caring for trees in the community.

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They are now among 124 Michigan communities, nine campuses, one healthcare institution, and one utility recognized with a Tree City, Tree Campus, Tree Campus Healthcare, or Tree Line USA designation for 2020.

“Michigan ranks eighth nationally in the number of communities with Tree City designations,” said Kevin Sayers, urban and community forestry specialist with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

Sayers said, “Trees are a very important part of the landscape in our cities, towns and villages. They add beauty to college campuses and hospital settings, making them more inviting while also helping to cool sidewalks and clean the air. Properly maintained trees in the spaces around power lines helps improve safety and service, too.”

These certifications are given for work completed in 2020, and the recipients will receive their awards in April. The program is designed to help promote proper care of the community trees and discuss the different benefits the trees provide.

“Tree City USA is about recognizing cities and towns that celebrate and care for their community trees and forests. It’s also about improving the quality of life for people who live in a Tree City community,” Sayers said.

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Here are the standards that must be met each year for the program:

  • a city department or tree board
  • a public tree care ordinance
  • a community forestry program with an annual budget of at least $2 per capita
  • a proclamation about and celebration of Arbor Day (this will occur on April 30 this year)

Over the last year:

  • One Michigan utility (ITC Michigan) was recertified through the Tree Line USA program and nine campuses through the Tree Campus Higher Education program.
  • North Central Michigan College in Petoskey is the newest campus certified.
  • Spectrum Healthcare-Blodgett Hospital in Grand Rapids recertified for the second year as a nationally recognized Tree Campus Healthcare facility.

“Michigan is still looking forward to seeing its first K-12 school become certified through the newest program, Tree Campus K-12,” Sayers said.

For questions on the DNR’s Urban and Community Forestry program, contact Kevin Sayers at 517-582-3209 or SayersK@Michigan.gov or visit Michigan.gov/UCF.

To learn more about the Arbor Day Foundation’s Tree USA programs, visit ArborDay.org/Programs.

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