The city of Covington has received the Tree City USA Award for the 16th consecutive year, along with the Tree City USA Growth Award for the second time in 10 years.
Both of these awards are given out by the Arbor Day Foundation.
Covington Parks and Recreation Director Ethan Newton said both awards celebrate tree protection and tree preservation, along with the importance of trees in general. The city meets certain criteria to receive the awards.
“We have to have a tree board, which our parks and recreation department serves as the city’s tree board. We have to have a tree ordinance, which we have had for many years in the city. We have to spend at least $2 per capita on trees or tree related activities in the city. So we do that,” Newton said. “We plant trees, we maintain them and sometimes we have to remove them. Then we have to have an Arbor Day event and also have an Arbor Day proclamation, which our city council does.”
Newton explained that a tree board is a part of the Parks and Recreation Department. He said at a staff level, they plan an Arbor Day event each year and partner with the Kent School District as well as environmental focus groups.
This year’s Arbor Day is on April 26 in Washington. At the Covington Arbor Day event, city officials and students will plant five to 10 trees at Covington Community Park, 17649 SE 240th St.
The city’s tree ordinance establishes regulations around tree protection, tree preservation and how that will balance with development in residential areas and commercial areas, Newton said.
“The city’s tree program really focuses on larger undeveloped tracts of land that might be developed. There might be a few clear trees, you might need to replant a certain amount of trees. It also protects what you would call ‘significant trees’ So at our Covington Community Park, we had some large cedar trees next to the tennis courts,” Newton said. “Originally one of the designs was to put in two tennis courts, but it would have eliminated those large cedar trees. So we modified the design. … There’s still three large cedars that still remain and just one tennis court, but we got to protect those larger significant trees.”
The Tree City USA Growth Award is a special recognition, Newton said. He said because Covington completed its Covington Community Park Phase 2 project this year, along with a couple of other things like planting a lot of trees, the city received this award.
“I think that shows the that the community does value this award. It was something early on in the city that they choose to pursue and we’ve been able to maintain that designation for the last 16 years. I think the community and the Parks and Recreation Commission and the city council are quite proud of it,” Newton said.