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The Student News Site of University of North Alabama

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The Flor-Ala

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Sheffield named Alabama’s Tree City of the Year

Sheffield+named+Alabama%E2%80%99s+Tree+City+of+the+Year
Whitney Veazey

Sheffield’s commitment to urban forestry and sustainable practices has been recognized. 

The Alabama Urban Forestry Association has crowned Sheffield as the Tree City of the Year for 2024, a prestigious recognition earned through the dedicated efforts of the city council and the diligent work of the Beautification and Tree Board. Sheffield, alongside Florence, has maintained its Tree City USA status for over two decades, demonstrating an unwavering commitment to preserving and enhancing its urban forestry.

To qualify for consideration as Alabama’s Tree City of the Year, cities must meet criteria outlined by the Arbor Day Foundation’s website, including the presence of an active tree board or department, a public tree care ordinance, a community forestry program with an annual budget of at least $2 per capita and an Arbor Day celebration and proclamation.

Sheffield Mayor Steve Stanley said, “We are doing all we can to try to preserve our trees and make the city even nicer with more trees.”

The city’s commitment to urban forestry extends to the maintenance of a virgin forest, an untouched area in the 21st century, showcasing the city’s dedication to environmental conservation.

The Sheffield Beautification and Tree Board has been actively combating invasive species to protect the integrity of the virgin forest. Mayor Stanley believes that the forest may house potential state champion trees, highlighting the city’s rich natural heritage.

“Some of them will be 200-300 years old,” said Stanley.  “we had two of them on the campus of city hall that were blown over that I’m sure were planted about the time they started building this city hall. It was constructed in 1927 but it was actually started earlier than that.”

One such champion tree, the “General Jackson Black Walnut” on Gordon Drive, holds historical significance, with local legend suggesting that President Andrew Jackson and his team once rested under its branches. A state champion tree is a tree that has reached a bigger size than any other tree of that same species in the state; they confirm this by measuring diameter and height.

Sheffield and Florence stand out as the only two cities in the Shoals area designated as Tree City USA cities, underscoring their joint commitment to sustainable urban development.

As part of this year’s Arbor Day celebration, Sheffield planted a Carolina Sapphire Arizona Cypress Tree on the city hall lawn, earmarked as the live Christmas tree for the upcoming holiday season. 

“We had a Theodore cypress that didn’t do well in the location where it was planted, and it got blown over last March by the storms,” said Stanley. “So, we needed to replace our live Christmas tree, and I think we picked a good species that’ll do well and be well-shaped for Christmas.”

Stanley has played a pivotal role in advancing Sheffield’s tree-related initiatives, contributing to the establishment and updating of the tree board and ordinance during his tenure on the city council. His ongoing collaboration with organizations like “Keep the Shoals Beautiful” further underscores his dedication to preserving the region’s natural beauty and fostering a sustainable future for Sheffield.

Stanley got the Beautification and Tree Board reconstituted and updated the ordinance to give them more authority to protect the trees. Now, before a tree can be cut, the board assesses its health and safety hazards. If someone asks for a tree to be cut down and the board deems it healthy and not a hazard, the tree stays. 

Johnnie Everitt is a member of the board, he has been a huge help and was instrumental in this election as the Tree City of Alabama. He’s helped the commission very much in the eradication of the invasive species that’s taken over the area. 

“I’m tickled to death to be chosen,” said Johnnie Everitt, Alabama Forestry Commission and Sheffield Beautification and Tree Board, according to TimesDaily. “We’ve been doing urban forestry up here for years, and we appreciate being chosen as the Alabama Tree City of the Year this year.”

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About the Contributors
Trenedy Parks, News Editor
Trenedy Parks is a sophomore from Fayetteville, Tenne. She is working towards a bachelor’s degree in journalism and digital media. She has worked as a staff writer for The Flor-Ala since Aug. 2022, and as News Editor since Aug. 2023. Her goals as a writer are to learn more about Florence and its community and to become more involved with the people of UNA.
Whitney Veazey, Chief Photographer
Whitney is a sophomore from Greenville, Ala. She is working towards a BFA with a concentration in photography. Whitney started at The Flor-Ala in Fall 2022 as a staff writer/photographer and is currently serving as chief photographer.

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