WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWTI) — A city that speaks for the trees.

The City of Watertown has been named a 2022 Tree City USA by the National Arbor Day Federation. A distinction that is given to communities nationwide that prove successful in urban forestry.

According to Watertown City Planner Michael DeMarco, Watertown achieved Tree City USA recognition by meeting the program’s four requirements. This includes a maintained tree board or department, having a tree care ordinance, an annual community forestry budget of at least $2 per capita and hosting an Arbor Day observance.

This is the 23rd year Watertown has earned this distinction.

“The City of Watertown stands out as a leader amongst communities in the area,” DeMarco expressed. “We’re at the forefront of urban forestry, especially for a city our size. We’re really putting in the work.”

Watertown has a tree advisory board called Tree Watertown. This board is comprised of local community members and hosts annual tree plantings.

“There’s always trees down,” Tree Watertown Chairman William Christopherson shared. “We’ve planted projects in Thompson Park, other parks in the city, pocket parks in the city, city streets and schools.”

Christopherson said so far, annual volunteer-led tree plantings have put over 7,000 trees in the ground.

This is to grow the City’s canopy and to replace trees that have been lost to storm damage, invasive species and disease.

“Planting has been something that has been really consistent. We’re really proud of that,” DeMarco added. “Also, our tree maintenance. That’s something we take a lot of pride in. We want to make sure our community has safe and healthy trees in every neighborhood.”

The current goal is to have over 10,000 trees planted by 2030.

Tree Watertown hopes that the work is being done, not only to beautify the City of Watertown but to preserve the tree canopy for future generations.

“50 years from now, the people that are helping us plant those trees, they are going to be looking at the mature trees when they are in their retirement years,” Christopherson said. “They’ll be very happy that they took part in creating the shade that’s available in the City now.”

The City of Watertown will again host an Arbor Day celebration this year. The official ceremony will take place on Friday, April 28 at the First Presbyterian Church in Watertown. A tree planting will follow on Saturday, April 29.