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Langley is NASA's First Tree City USA
By: Denise Lineberry

A plaque has been awarded, signs have been delivered and a flag is waiting to fly to let everyone know that NASA Langley is a "Tree City USA" community, the agency's first.

The Arbor Day Foundation, in cooperation with the USDA Forest Service and the National Association of State Foresters, sponsors the "Tree City USA" program. It provides direction, technical assistance and national recognition for community forestry programs in thousands of towns and cities across the country.

"Having 'Tree City USA' status lets the community know that we care about our environment, but it also benefits the center to have a program in place to manage our forests and raise awareness," said Peter Van Dyke of Langley's Environmental Management Branch (EMB).

Earth, Arbor Day 2011.
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The plaque held by Peter Van Dyke of NASA Langley's Environmental Management Branch tells the world that the center is designated as a "Tree City USA." Credit: NASA/Sean Smith

Ahead, the branch has set a goal to create a memorial tree garden on the center.

"This would allow people to plant native trees in honor of employees," Van Dyke said. "It also has a benefit of reforesting an area of the center at no taxpayers' expense, because the trees are purchased by the users. EMB would approve trees used to ensure they are native to the area."

Planting more native trees on the center is another goal of the EMB program, as is planting a riparian buffer zone near Langley's water tower. Such buffer zones helps reduce pollution and can provide food, habitat and thermal protection for fish and wildlife.

To qualify for "Tree City USA" status, four standards had to be met. Langley had to establish a "tree board" or department. In this case, EMB will serve as the tree board. It's already dealing with planting and removal.

The center also had to create a tree care ordinance and a community forestry budget of at least $2 per capita.

Finally, it had to observe Arbor Day. That was done by combining Arbor Day with Earth Day at Langley. The two were celebrated together on Friday for the second year in a row, and plans are for that celebration to be an annual event.

This year's Earth and Arbor day event showcased New Town’s Phase II Integrated Engineering Services Building (IESB). In addition, energy and water conservation programs were cited, as well as water quality and Chesapeake Bay conservation efforts.

The center's cultural resource preservation, “green” purchasing, the "bio-char" for soil enhancement and carbon sequestration project, Langley’s recycling program, Hampton Roads Solar Tour and the LaRC Mart showcased green products.

The “Tree City USA” plaque, signs and flag were placed on display alongside a plant and tree exchange, signaling both awareness of the effort and a growth that will reach beyond NASA Langley.

The Researcher News
NASA Langley Research Center
Editor & Curator: Denise Lineberry
Managing Editor: Jim Hodges
Executive Editor & Responsible NASA Official: Rob Wyman