Merrillville Receives Tree City USA Honors

Merrillville Receives Tree City USA Honors

TreeCity_4There are many traditions in Merrillville, and a dedication to urban forest management is one of them.

For the 14th consecutive year, Merrillville was named a Tree City USA community. On top of that prestigious accomplishment, “The Heart of the Region” also secured the Arbor Day Foundation’s Growth Award, which recognizes the strides Merrillville has made in environmental enhancement as well as the community’s top-tier tree care practices.

“Being designated as a Tree City USA for the 14th consecutive year reflects the commitment and support from our elected officials to proactively implement urban forest management to enhance our community,” Merrillville Stormwater Executive Director Matt Lake said. “Receiving the Arbor Day Foundation’s Growth Award is an honor for the Town and demonstrates efforts to go above and beyond.”

Tree City USA standards include having a dedicated tree board or department, upholding a tree care ordinance, earmarking an annual community forestry budget of at least $2 per capita, and conducting an annual Arbor Day celebration complete with a proclamation.

"We are immensely proud to announce our recognition as a 2023 Tree City USA, coupled with the esteemed Growth Award,” Town Council President Rick Bella said. “This achievement is a testament to the dedication and collaborative efforts of all involved, from our esteemed Town associates and the Merrillville Lions Club to our diligent municipal officials and numerous other contributors who have demonstrated a profound commitment to the enhancement of our community through the planting, nurturing, and celebration of trees.”

Merrillville understands the importance of trees goes well-beyond their aesthetics. They help clean our air and water while providing a habitat for wildlife and absorbing stormwater during rain events. All these benefits help to provide a healthier, safer, and more connected municipality.

"Tree City USA communities see the positive effects of an urban forest firsthand," said Dan Lambe, chief executive of the Arbor Day Foundation. "The trees being planted and cared for by Merrillville are ensuring that generations to come will enjoy to a better quality of life. Additionally, participation in this program brings residents together and creates a sense of civic pride, whether it's through volunteer engagement or public education."

Town officials are regularly considering potential projects to help beautify the community while improving the environment.

That includes current efforts to develop a program to best use about 80 ball and burlap trees that Merrillville has ready for planting as well as another significant tree planting initiative.

"Tree initiatives play a pivotal role in the aesthetic enhancement of our Town,” Bella said. “We are excited to unveil our upcoming spring projects, which will see the planting of hundreds of fruit-bearing trees. This endeavor will not only enrich our landscape but also offer residents the unique opportunity to one day pluck fresh produce from town-owned trees. Stay tuned for forthcoming details on this exciting development.”