WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- The North Carolina Forest Service named Winston-Salem as the state’s Tree City USA of the Year for 2017. The award comes thanks to the city’s efforts to promote and protect its urban forests, and to educate homeowners and utilities on how to maintain trees properly.

Nine North Carolina municipalities were eligible for the award from receiving a Growth Award last year from Tree City USA, which encourages communities to participate in activities that recognize environmental improvement, encourage higher levels of tree care, and strengthen the community’s involvement.

Winston-Salem received its 6th Growth Award in 2016, and has been a Tree City USA for 17 consecutive years.
Nancy Stairs, urban forestry program coordinator for the N.C. Forest Service, says that municipalities were judged for impact, quality, innovation and how much their efforts were an example for others to follow.

“We are glad to recognize Winston-Salem, as the city has maintained a stable and steady urban forestry program over the years, which is pretty important in itself,” Stairs said.

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Three city initiatives to improve the maintenance of its forests in 2016 made Winston-Salem stand out:
• A brochure and video for homeowners about trees in the right-of-way;
• A hands-on tree-pruning workshop for the Washington Park neighborhood;
• And a working relationship with AT&T on proper pruning standards to follow during utility upgrades and maintenance.

Keith Finch, the city’s director of vegetation management, says, “This award is the result of a lot of hard work and dedication from the urban forestry staff of Vegetation Management and also of the cooperation and support of the citizens.”

Winston-Salem will be recognized at the N.C. Urban Forest Council’s Annual Conference awards luncheon on September 15 in Raleigh.