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Tree City USA

Forest Conservation Efforts

  • Trees help absorb the sounds of traffic in urban areas by 40%.

  • Neighborhoods with trees are seven to nine degrees cooler than those without.

  • Trees reduce energy costs up to 25% by shading buildings and protecting them from winter winds.

  • Homes with trees have higher property values.

  • Green space plays a major role in improving mental and physical health.

  • Planting and maintaining trees absorbs carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, mitigating the effects of climate change.

About Tree City USA

The Tree City USA program provides Middletown, Maryland, with a framework to maintain and grow their tree cover. It also gives us an avenue to celebrate our work, showing residents, visitors, and the entire country that were’re committed to the mission of environmental change.

Started in 1976, Tree City USA is one of the Arbor Day Foundation’s oldest programs. The founders had a vision for a greener, healthier America, and hoped this initiative would inspire change on a nationwide level.

The first Tree City USA cohort was comprised of 42 communities in 16 states. Today, the program includes more than 3,600 communities from all 50 states, Washington D.C., and Puerto Rico.

Tree City USA has seen a lot of change over the years — but their participants’ passion for trees has remained the same.

Their story isn’t over. They hope to continue growing our network, city by city, until every American can live in a Tree City USA community.

Watercolor by Kesra Hoffman, used with permission

2023 Tree City Growth Award

Middletown received a 2023 Tree City USA Growth Award from the Arbor Day Foundation for its commitment to effective urban forest management.

A Growth Award is bestowed to a community alongside their Tree City USA recognition for demonstrating environmental improvement and a higher level of tree care. The award recognizes major milestones and annual activities in five categories building a team, measuring trees and forests, planning the work, performing the work, and building the community framework.

2023 Tree City Growth Award Application

A3. Grant applications – 3 points

We applied for two grants in 2022 for our tree planting efforts. For our Arbor Day tree planting event, we partnered with Potomac Edison who paid for one third of the cost of the 135 native trees that were purchased. We also received a $1,000 grant from the Maryland Urban and Community Forest Committee (MUCFC). 82 of the native trees were given to town residents to plant on their properties and the other 53 were planted with the help of about 30 volunteers on public property. The purpose of the planting was to help increase the tree canopy, improve water quality in Town, limit the amount of mowing needed, and for aesthetic purposes.

In the Fall of 2023, we applied for a grant from Keep Maryland Beautiful for a plaque and educational materials to call attention to the offspring of Maryland’s famous Wye Oak which was long recognized as the largest white oak in the nation. We have not heard yet whether that grant has been approved.

Additionally, we were awarded a Healthy Forests Healthy Waters grant through the Maryland Forest Service with money coming from the Maryland Chesapeake and Coastal Bays Trust Fund. The planting, which will take place in Spring 2024, will total 2.71 acres and aim to increase forest cover, add wildlife value, and protect water quality. 1,175 native trees will be planted with a mix of white oak, southern red oak, yellow poplar, sweetgum, eastern redbud, red maple, persimmon, black locust, spicebush, and American plum.


B6. Tree Inventory Portion – 3 points

A tree inventory form was developed, and two public parks were the first to be inventoried. This will be expanded to eventually incorporate all public parks and lands within the Town.


C2. Species List – 3 points

The Town updated the lists of recommended trees for planting on public property, as well as a list of invasive plants that are not to be planted within the town limits. They are stand-alone documents and are available on the town website.


D1. Tree Planting Program – 8 points

A new funding source called the Healthy Forests, Healthy Waters Program was established for installing trees on public property. It is administered by the Maryland Forestry Foundation and the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay with technical support provided by the Maryland Forest Service. More than 1,000 trees will be planted on 2.71 acres of public land in the spring of 2024.

D2. Tree Planting Projects – 2 points

The Town of Middletown was able to plant 135 trees in 2023 thanks to grant funding through MUCFC and Potomac Edison. We held a community tree planting event on April 28th in which we celebrated Arbor Day and planted 53 trees on public property in an old cultivated field on the east side of Town. We had 30 volunteers help out including Potomac Edison employees, Lions Club members and other town residents. Additionally, 82 trees were given to town residents to plant on their own properties.


D3. Survival Monitoring – 4 points

Members of the Middletown Sustainability Committee conducted field inspections of the five previous years’ tree planting events. Trees planted in November 2019 along the Middletown Parkway had a survival rate of 93%. Trees planted in October 2020 in the North Pointe subdivision had a 66% survival rate. Trees planted in September 2020 in the Remsberg parking lot grassy strips had a survival rate of 92%, along the entrance to Wiles Branch Park had a 62% survival rate, and along the drive to Boileau Drive had a 100% survival rate. The trees that were planted in Spring 2021 at the Cone Branch Pocket Park had a 78% survival rate. The redbuds planted in April 2022 on Foxfield Pass had a survival rate of 90%. Trees planted on Arbor Day 2022 had a survival rate of 73%. Trees planted in October 2022 had a survival rate of 62%.

D8. Young Tree Training – 4 points

While doing the survival monitoring of newly planted trees, the Sustainability Committee members also perform pruning to improve structure and remove tree tubes when necessary to ensure that the maximum number of trees planted have the highest potential for survival for decades to come.


E13. Publications – 3 points

The Town’s website ( along with the Middletown Sustainability Committee’s website ( have native tree lists and tree planting guidelines. They are shown on the Town website under its ‘Sustainability Efforts in Middletown’ page and on the committee’s website under Natural Landscaping. The Town website also includes the Tree Canopy Report for Frederick County that was done in 2016, and additional information is available on the committee’s website.

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