City leaders and residents gathered at Katy’s new Fussell Senior Center Friday morning to officially proclaim the day as Arbor Day in Katy.
Mayor Pro-Tem Hank Schmidt led the ceremony, issuing the proclamation on behalf of Mayor Don Elder, who could not be present.
The ceremony took place in front a newly-planted East Palatka Holley tree near the entrance to the senior center.
Sandy Schmidt with Keep Katy Beautiful thanked the volunteers and members of the Katy Public Works Department who helped plant the various new trees around the facility. She also commended work crews who made an extra effort to protect existing trees while the senior center was being built.
“They took special care to preserve the trees on site,” she said.
Schmidt also thanked the Apache Corporation, which donated 50 Crepe Myrtle trees to the city, a number of which were planted around the senior center.
Mickey Merritt with the Texas Forest Service praised Katy’s efforts to preserve its tree stock, as well as being recently named a “Tree City USA” community and establishing a Legacy Tree Program.
“You ought to be really proud that you are a Tree City USA city. To me, that’s a very special designation,” Merritt told the crowd.
Merritt noted that the Tree City USA program was established by the National Arbor Day Foundation in 1976 and has since grown to more than 300 cities nationwide. Katy joins 73 other Texas communities to receive the designation.
Merritt also pointed out that Katy, being located in three counties, became the fourth city in Harris County to receive the Tree City designation, one of only two – the other being Sugar Land – in Fort Bend County and the first city in Waller County.
“You are pretty special in that regard. I applaud you all for that,” he said.
To qualify as a Tree City USA community, a town or city must meet four standards established by The Arbor Day Foundation and the National Association of State Foresters.
These standards were established to ensure that every qualifying community would have a viable tree management plan and program. The standards were also designed so that no community would be excluded because of size.
The standards include:
- A Tree Board or Department
- A Tree Care Ordinance
- A Community Forestry Program With an Annual Budget of at Least $2 Per Capita
- An Arbor Day Observance and Proclamation
In Katy, the Keep Katy Beautiful Board also serves as the local tree board.
The city has also established a Legacy Tree program to document noteworthy or historic trees in Katy. Trees can be nominated by any person based on age, size, species, quality, historic association or landmark importance.
The nominations will be evaluated by Keep Katy Beautiful and representatives from the Texas Forest Service. The first group of legacy trees will be announced at the June 11 city council meeting.
The program will be ongoing. Nomination forms are available online at the city’s website.
For more information, e-mail email@example.com or call 281-391-4717.