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2015 NC Urban Forestry Award Winners

Each year, the NC Urban Forest Council accepts nominations and selects winners for the NC Urban Forestry Awards. The purpose of this award program is to recognize cities, towns, organizations, businesses and individuals for outstanding work to protect and enhance community forests and raise awareness about the importance of urban forestry in North Carolina.  

“This award program, and the groups and individuals that are recognized, is a testament to the dedication that our communities and citizens in NC have for keeping their cities green. Urban Forests are critical components of our cities and it takes the dedication of volunteers and employees alike to keep them healthy and beautiful,” said NC Urban Forest Council Executive Director, Leslie Moorman.

The N.C. Urban Forest Council announced winners in the following award categories:
•    Outstanding Individual Award: Ken King, Town of Oriental Tree Board

Ken King has been the driving force behind Oriental Tree Board’s effort to repopulate our streets and parks with canopy trees. We have planted 1,000 trees in our 20 year history as a tree city, or put another way we have planted more trees than there are people in our town of 900. Many decades ago Oriental did have tree lined streets, but old age and hurricanes decimated the population to a low point by the 1990s. The Oriental Tree Board was formed to replace the lost canopy, and for much of the past two decades Ken has played a major role in our efforts.
In fall and winter we get requests from residents for street trees, and many more are added to the planting list as Ken contacts property owners on lots where there are no public trees. Once we have a planting list Ken contacts various nurseries in Eastern North Carolina to determine what they have in stock and then he travels to these nurseries to pick up trees. In winter his yard serves as the holding area for new trees destined to be planted in town. On planting days Ken loads the needed trees on the Tree Board trailer and brings them to planting sites. He also makes tree stakes to identify new trees and makes collars to protect them from string trimmers. His dedication is something any town would be excited to have as part of their urban forestry program.

•    Outstanding Professional Award: Don McSween, City of Charlotte

Don McSween recently retired from the City of Charlotte, NC. He served as Charlotte’s City Arborist for 33 years. Early in his career with NC Cooperative Extension he helped pioneer one of the first urban forestry programs in the state. In Charlotte he was responsible for the management of approximately 180,000 street trees along 3,000 miles of streets, he helped preserve countless numbers of trees, and was the key component in both raising awareness on the importance of trees in the Charlotte community and making sure trees had a seat at the table within the City of Charlotte’s operating structure . Major accomplishments and challenges include: developing and implementing the large-scale fall cankerworm management effort in Charlotte, leading the effort to install the famous suspended sidewalks on the Tryon Street Mall in Uptown Charlotte and leading the cleanup efforts after Hurricane Hugo and numerous major ice storms.

•    Outstanding Project Award: Downtown Statesville Streetscape, City of Statesville

This three-year construction project was designed to create a rich pedestrian-focused environment.The plan included widened sidewalks, reconfigured parking, outdoor dining areas, public art and attractive streetscape amenities.  Much attention was given to the planting of more than 120 trees to create urban canopies that provide shade without blocking storefronts.  The Nuttall Oak and Lacebark Elm species trees were carefully selected and placed to ensure the greatest impact on downtown\'s economy, environment and appearance. Local business owners are exited for the completion of this project and for the additional trees along the street, as it will draw more people to the downtown area.

•    Outstanding Tree Board Award: City of Saluda Tree Board

The City of Saluda prides itself on its small town character, its trees, and its beautiful natural surrounding landscape of waterfalls. Saluda residents understand the importance of preservation and conservation of our natural resources of trees, clean streams, waterfalls, and open land. For a community of just over 700 people, the Saluda Tree Board works independently as well as with numerous partners including the Saluda Community Land Trust. One big accomplishment was the development of a Forest Stewardship Plan for the Saluda Nature Park.  The management plan includes dealing with the non-native invasives including: kudzu, paulownia, multiflora rose, English ivy and oriental bittersweet. To increase the sustainability of the community’s urban forest resource, the Tree Board had a public tree inventory completed utilizing the Talking 2 Trees app. The central business district, main streets, community park and cemetery were inventoried. The inventory was utilized to develop a 3-year maintenance plan that addresses risk trees and central business district planting plans.
•    Tree City USA of the Year: City of Greensboro



Entries were judged for impact, quality, innovation and the degree to which the work serves as a worthy example for others to follow. Award recipients were recognized at the N.C. Urban Forest Council’s 2015 Great NC Tree Conference Awards Luncheon on September 17th.