Gilroy loses Tree City USA designation

Miller Avenue is one of the many areas in Gilroy lined with trees.

Gilroy is proud to be acknowledged as a Tree City USA city. Right? Actually, no.

At a meeting of the Parks and Recreation Commission,  Recreation Manager Adam Henig revealed that Gilroy is no longer an official Tree City.

Why? Somebody in City Hall forgot to apply.

In the midst of turnover in the Public Works Department, the deadline to file the proper paperwork to the Arbor Day Foundation was missed and the city lost its Tree City USA status in 2016.

“Being a Tree City USA does not grant money, but it’s a recognition that a city actually does care about trees,” said Danny Cohn, the Public Relations Director for the Arbor Day Foundation.”

Gilroy became a Tree City USA member in 1980 when tree maintenance was under the supervision of the Parks and Recreation department. Today the city’s trees are taken care of by the Streets, Water and Trees Division.

To officially qualify as a Tree City, a city must adhere to four guidelines which include having a tree board or department, a tree care ordinance, a budgeted community forestry program and an annual Arbor Day celebration.

 The good news: Gilroy still adheres to the standards set by the Arbor Day Foundation and once the application is submitted, the city expects to regain its Tree City USA status.

“Once the Public Works Department submits the paperwork I couldn’t imagine that it would take more than six to eight weeks,” said Henig.

Recently the city has been tangled in litigation when it approved legislation in May to remove more than 200 trees citywide, including 35 in Christmas Hill Park. The Gilroy City Council approved a $258,000 contract with West Coast Arborists for tree maintenance.

The city removed 235 trees, which it determined had posed a safety risk, but also agreed to replant 95 trees per year for five years.

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