The City of Davis Urban Forestry Program officially began in 1963 with the establishment of the Street Tree Committee (now the Tree Commission). Prior to 1963, developers were encouraged to plant a tree in the "parkway" in subdivisions which, in most cases, the City assumed as street trees. The purpose of the program initially was to provide shade and aesthetics for our community, which remains the primary concern. However, through the years, the program has evolved into a much larger one than the initial planting of a street tree.
The Urban Forestry Program consists of six basic aspects:
- The Master Tree List
- The Tree planting program
- A Tree maintenance program
- A Tree inventory
- The Tree Commission
- An informed and supportive public
Currently, the City maintains about 13,000 street trees, and over 5,000 trees in parks and greenbelts. Maintenance includes everything from the original planting, to pruning, integrated pest management, replacement, and keeping current on the latest care and control methods. Trees are now designated only after consideration of growth rates, required maintenance, size, and environment.
In 1977, the City received national recognition for our Street Tree Program by the National Arbor Day Foundation. We have continued to received this annual award, and are known nationally as a "Tree City USA".
The Street Tree Committee realized that a major asset to the community was not only the trees planted in the future, but also the many existing trees on private property which were irreplaceable. In the late 1960's the Committee began a survey of all trees in Davis in order to establish the Landmark Tree List. The list is made up of approximately 100 trees which met all of the following criteria:
- An outstanding specimen of a desirable species
- One of the largest or oldest trees in Davis
- Of historical interest
- Of distinctive form
Each property owner was given a framed Resolution of Appreciation for keeping the trees healthy for present and future citizens to enjoy. The Committee also found many other trees which did not meet all of the criteria, but were very beneficial to the community. These trees were put on a "Trees Worth Saving" List.
Since a major portion of the commercial development in Davis is in the core area, where many of the Landmark and "Trees Worth Saving" listed trees are located, the remodeling or development of properties with these trees is usually contingent upon saving the trees and designing structures around them. See the Guidelines for the Preservation of Existing Trees for more information.