TREE CITY: Columbia City awarded for its trees, again

COLUMBIA CITY — Whitley County’s county seat continues to display its passion for trunks, leaves, limbs and branches, having garnered nearly two decades of recognition as a safe haven for all things “hardwood.”“This is our 18th straight year as a Tree City,” said Mayor Ryan Daniel Wednesday, referring to the announcement by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources proclaiming Columbia City as one of 67 towns in the Hoosier State to be designated a Tree City.The IDNR reported that among the awarded cities, Indiana’s Tree Cities planted 15,423 trees in 2011.To be recognized as a Tree City, a community  must have a public tree care ordinance, a tree board that advises the municipal department charged with the tree care program, a budget for tree planting and care of at least $2 per capita, and an Arbor Day observance.Aside from the aesthetics of having what Daniel calls an “urban forrest,” the mayor pointed out several other advantages of being a tree-friendly town.“It helps develop an urban canopy, if you will, which helps keep energy costs down,” Daniel said. “It helps keep homes cool in the summer time and it also helps with dealing with ground water and drainage as well as with erosion control.”Columbia City’s Arbor Day observance is scheduled for Friday at Mary Raber Elementary School.