NEWTON — After being named a Tree City USA city for 44 consecutive years, one might think being honored by the Arbor Day Foundation would be old hat for the city of Newton.


“We take great pride in this,” said Hondo Collins, superintendent of the Newton Parks Department. “We want to show a commitment to the urban forest. Kansas is not known for its trees, but everyone benefits from trees.


“The past couple of years we have been planting more trees because we have come out of a drought. I would encourage others to plant more as well. We lost a lot of trees in the drought.”


An announcement made Monday has city hall and park staff excited. The City of Newton has been recognized as one of the inaugural Tree Cities of the World by the Arbor Day Foundation.


“We are among some big company,” said Erin McDaniel, public information officer for the city of Newton.


Only 23 cities in the United States earned the designation. Newton is not the smallest city on the list, but it is the only city in Kansas there. And there is some pretty rare company being kept worldwide.


“You look at other cities, like New York, San Francisco, Paris and Milan (Italy) ... ,” McDaniel said.


Newton is the second-smallest of the 59 cities recognized worldwide. Auburn, Neb., population 3,460, is the smallest city on the list.


“They were one of the first Tree City USA’s also, they have been doing this as long as we have,” Collins said. “I know there are quite a few other cities that take tree care very seriously.”


City Parks staff applied for the distinction due to the city’s 44-year history as a Tree City USA.


The City’s Parks staff work to make sure that Newton meets the core standards of the program:


• Establish responsibility: Delegate oversight of community tree issues to a Tree Board.


• Set the rules: Maintain official policy that governs the management of trees in our community via a tree ordinance.


• Know what you have: Maintain an inventory or assessment of local trees, specifically for city parks.


• Allocate resources: Maintain an annual operating budget that addresses tree management,


• Celebrate achievements: Hold an annual celebration of trees to raise awareness.


More information is available at treecitiesoftheworld.org.