Wadena was recently named a 2020 Tree City USA by the Arbor Day Foundation in honor of its commitment to effective urban forest management.

The city needed to meet four requirements to be recognized. They do that by having a tree board or department, tree care ordinance, and annual community forestry budget of at least $2 per capita and an Arbor Day observance and proclamation.

The city's tree board requirement is fulfilled through the Wadena Park Board, which makes recommendations to the city council, according to Wadena Public Works director Dan Kovar. The city's tree care ordinance covers topics such as handling of shade tree diseases like Dutch elm, oak wilt and emerald ash bore diseases. It is the intention of the city council to remove diseased trees, according to the ordinance.

The city spends well beyond the $2 per capita when they spent $59,065.60 in 2020, which equates to approximately $14.45 per capita on community forestry. This includes trees purchased, tree trimming and tree removal costs, along with volunteer hours. The city also has a licensed arborist on staff, Andrew Worden.

The Tree City USA flag is flying high over the Flowering Tree Memorial Lane in Wadena's Sunnybrook Park.
Michael Johnson/Pioneer Journal
The Tree City USA flag is flying high over the Flowering Tree Memorial Lane in Wadena's Sunnybrook Park. Michael Johnson/Pioneer Journal

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In 2020 the Arbor Day observation was not held in Wadena due to the Covid pandemic. The Tree City Foundation waived this requirement for 2020. The 2021 Arbor Day observation was held on Friday, April 30, in North Sunnybrook Park. The Park Board planted trees in the park.

"The trees being planted and cared for by Wadena are ensuring that generations to come will enjoy a better quality of life," according to Dan Lambe, president of the Arbor Day Foundation.

Minnesota is home to 111 Tree City USA communities this year, the most in a century, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

The Arbor Day Foundation recently launched the Time for Trees initiative to address issues of air quality, water resources, health and well-being, energy use and protection from extreme heat and flooding. The goal of this initiative is to plant 100 million trees in forests and communities and inspiring 5 million tree planters by 2022.