Kudos are due the towns of Wendell and Zebulon for the recent news that both towns has been named Tree City USA towns. The qualifications for earning that title are not tremendously high, but they do require a commitment from the tows to invest time and resources into the trees that decorate their towns.
In Wendell, they’ve been thinking about trees in a thoughtful way for more than 30 years. In Zebulon, the work has been ongoing for more than 10 now. A short drive under the tree canopy along Wendell Boulevard or Arendell Avenue offers visitors and residents alike a chance to see the beauty that trees can add to a cityscape. Longtimers in Zebulon will recall the gorgeous tree canopy that covered Gannon Avenue from Mack Todd Road almost to Arendell Avenue.
Trees, simply put, add an immense degree of beauty to a region. In a recent speech to a local civic club, new Wake County Commissioner Sig Hutchinson suggested that one of the greatest economic development tools Wake County has in its arsenal is the view from the airplane that visiting corporate executives see when they approach the runway at Raleigh-Durham International Airport.
That natural beauty, he suggested, helps visitors fall in love with the area before they ever lay eyes on the ground.
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Now that both Wendell and Zebulon have expressed a sincere interest in their trees, now’s the time to really ramp up that commitment. As development picks back up, the towns can establish rules that require developers to keep a certain amount of the trees on their property.
The town of Wake Forest, which as the name implies, hangs its hat partly on its urban forest, has such rules written into their codes. And when a developer seeks a way around it, the people of the town will rise up.
A town’s urban forest is too often an overlooked asset. Wendell and Zebulon have expressed a commitment to their urban forests. We hope they will take the next step and work to protect the resources that are already in place at the same time to work to grow the urban forest by planting new trees each year.