Tree City USA

The Town of Orono has a long standing practice of prioritizing the maintenance and preservation of trees in the urban landscape. Nearly 26 years ago, the Orono Town Council updated a vegetation ordinance that established the standing Tree Board which has insured the Town’s status as a Tree City USA for decades. This group of energetic volunteers meets monthly and is charged with working with the Tree Warden to manage public trees within the boundary of Orono. Their work includes carrying out yearly planting programs, reviewing tree removals or areas for pruning, managing invasive species, and other services to support the Town's trees. The Tree Board maintains a small tree nursery for public tree planting, maintains an arboretum on the school campus, and holds an annual Arbor Day celebration as well as other outreach activities. 

 In 1981, the Town of Orono enacted its first vegetation ordinance which had language to create the Orono Tree Board and focused on protecting public trees and combating Dutch Elm disease. At this time there was a group of dedicated volunteers who had formed a Tree Commission, headed by Dr. Dick Campana, which made the conservation of trees and tree plantings a priority within the Town. This group of volunteers was more formally in cohesion with the Town by 1993 and officially appointed by the Town Council in 1996. A year later, the Tree Board was recognized by the Arbor Day Foundation as a Tree City (USA) in 1997 thanks to the efforts of Anne Pilcher. The starting members planted trees around Orono focusing on public areas including around the schools and Webster Park. In 2002, the Tree Board hired a consultant, with funding provided by the Maine Forest Service, to perform the Towns first street tree inventory which helped create a street tree management plan for the 2000s. The Tree Board continued to make the conservation of trees a priority and maintained a volunteer operated nursery that would supply transplants all around Orono. 

Today, the Tree Board is as strong as ever. Within the last few years the Tree Board has adopted a more formal approach to meetings, meeting every month. In 2021, the Tree Board updated the Town’s vegetation ordinance to include language to address maintenance of emerging invasive species of plants and insects. Also that year, two University of Maine Forestry students presented their management plan on “Emerald Ash Borer Preparedness Plan and Mapping” to the Tree Board.  This year, the Tree Board will be working with a UMaine Master of Forestry Student, to update Orono’s urban tree inventory to provide a public viewer map of public trees within Orono. This project is funded in part through a grant awarded by the Maine Forest Service and the USDA Forest Service. This data collection directly enhances Orono’s capacity for long-term and sustainable urban forest management via the Town’s forest management plan update in the coming year. 

Celebration of the Town of Orono’s 26th year as a Tree City! 

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The Town of Orono is excited to announce the celebration of the Town of Orono’s 26th year as a Tree City! The Town will be sponsoring two events during Maine’s celebration of Arbor Week. The Town’s Tree Board has organized an education and outreach event on Thursday May 19th with students from RSU #26, followed by a volunteer planting event on May 20th. All are welcome to attend the tree planting event at 3 Godfrey Drive starting at 3:00 pm.


Maine Arbor Week Events (Week of May 15)


Asa Adams School Event

The Tree Board is interested in educating and fostering young arborists and forest advocates! Every year the Tree Board attends Asa Adams Elementary to read the Arbor Day Proclamation to the 5th graders in the Nature Garden. This year the event will be on May 19th at 2:00 pm. The Tree Board discusses the importance of trees in Orono’s community and provides information on invasive plants and insects that are in the community. This also includes a lesson on not transporting firewood out of the community to campsites in order to help decrease the spread of invasives. The Tree Board gives each of the students a tree sapling, often donated by JD Irving through the Maine Forest Service, that they can bring home to plant at the end of the event.


Public Tree Planting Event
In keeping with the historic interest in maintaining a healthy, vibrant, and multi-use forested landscape in Orono’s relatively urbanized area, the Town plans to hold a public tree planting event on Friday, May 20th from 3:00-5:00pm. We will be planting 125 trees in the Godfrey Drive buffer strip at 3 Godfrey Drive in Orono (across the road from Black Bear Inn and Conference Center). This project is funded in part through a grant awarded by the Maine Forest Service and the USDA Forest Service. Planting diverse trees into a buffer strip stabilizes the soil, reduces noise and air pollution, creates greater water filtration and drainage for urban stormwater runoff, increases pest resiliency, increases tree diversity, and increases wildlife habitat which all increase climate resiliency within the area. Please wear sturdy shoes, bring gloves, and feel free to come join us and plant some trees!