City of Valdosta Honored for Commitment to Environment

Staff Report From Valdosta CEO

Thursday, December 7th, 2017

The City of Valdosta is the recipient of the 2017 Outstanding Community Grand Award, which was presented by the Georgia Urban Forest Council on Nov. 8 in recognition of the city’s commitment to the overall health of the community and building a strong urban forestry program.

"As a Tree City USA for 31 consecutive years, the City of Valdosta has always tried to find the balance between caring for our urban environment and managing city growth," said Emily Davenport, assistant director of the Engineering Department. "We are thankful for the many efforts that have been made over the last 40 years and the investment into our community that has resulted in the beautification, environmental and economic benefits for current and future generations.”

The GUFC specifically praised the City of Valdosta for establishing and maintaining positive community partnerships in their efforts to reach their urban forest goals. Several programs and best practices have been implemented since the 1978 adoption of the city’s first tree ordinance that outlines the importance of preserving, planting, and maintaining the city’s tree canopy. Additional efforts include, but are not limited to, the following:

The city created the Valdosta Tree Commission in 1984, and as outlined in their mission statement strive “to promote the preservation of our tree resources within the City of Valdosta through educational outreach and to encourage the planting of trees throughout the city limits to further enhance the natural beauty of our community.”

Through the Memorial Tree Program that was established in 1985, the city has dedicated 93 trees along city streets, parks, schools, etc., in honor of special people or events.
The city’s Streetscape Project in the late 1990s included the collaboration of property owners and developers to preserve the existing trees and add new trees to the landscape, resulting in the current robust canopy in Downtown Valdosta today.

Workshops such as "Right Tree, Right Place" provide educational information to citizens on planting the appropriate tree, proper pruning and ways to prevent damage to public utility lines. Additional opportunities such as pruning and tree care workshops, tree planting events, and monthly Arbor Tips are promoted throughout the year.

A Georgia Department of Transportation GATEway grant helped fund the efforts to beautify the community gateway at N. Valdosta Road in 2015 to create a positive experience for visitors to our city.
The city hosted its first Arbor Week Celebration in 2017, which involved the signing of a proclamation, tree planting events to honor first responders and Moody Air Force Base personnel, classroom presentations, free tree seedlings, and educational classes.

"The City of Valdosta is to be commended for their focus on building a strong urban forestry program and for forming partnerships in this endeavor," said Mary Lynne Beckley, Executive Director of the Georgia Urban Forest Council.