For the 10th year, Purcellville has been named a Tree City USA by the Arbor Day Foundation. Town leaders see this as a further tribute to their efforts to promote Purcellville’s environmental health.
Spearheading these efforts is the town’s newly formed Tree and Environmental Sustainability Committee. A revamped consolidation of the former Tree and Beautification Committee and Committee for the Environment, the group has is already attracting volunteers with backgrounds working for the Environmental Protection Agency and the United Nations.
“We’re making it a priority, because if you make this a more beautiful place to live it increases all of our property values,” said Purcellville Vice Mayor Karen Jimmerson, who serves as the Town Council liaison to the Tree and Environmental Sustainability Committee. Trees will also add intangible benefits to the town by making citizens calmer, happier and more content, Jimmerson said.
After its initial meeting, the group is already working with arborists to potentially clone the large oak trees that surround Fireman’s Field so they can be dispersed throughout the town. The committee has also discussed plans for a tree canopy in certain parts of the town to keep streets cooler during the warmer months and increase it aesthetic beauty.
There are also plans to create a “Neighborwoods” grant system to award compensation for neighborhoods, streets or even individuals who want to increase the foliage of their properties. In the short term, the committee is also looking at composting initiatives that will in turn spur more planting.
Before the Committee’s return, Purcellville had already established its green credentials. In the past few years, the town has held annual townwide clean ups as well as workshops to encourage residents to use rain barrels to provide potable water for lawns and plants, and for washing cars and outdoor equipment. It has been certified as a “Green Government” by the Virginia Municipal League and was accepted as an Environmental Enterprise participant in the Virginia Environmental Excellence Program.
In 2009, Purcellville placed 1,271 acres of land into a conservation and open space easement, becoming the first municipality in Loudoun to do so.
“I congratulate the Town of Purcellville for their foresight to protect the watershed for its drinking-water reservoir,” said then-Governor Tim Kaine in 2009. “This conservation easement is remarkable, and it demonstrates the significant leadership role local governments can play in preserving open space,” said Kaine, now a U.S. Senator. “The Town’s decision will help protect local drinking water and maintain the area’s natural beauty for generations to come.”
During the past two autumns, the town has coordinated the Hail to the Trail Event, which served as the town’s “Green Expo”. The event, in partnership with the town government and the Nature Generation, merged the annual Painting Purcellville Green event with Fall for the Trail. Along with an Arbor Day proclamation, it created a showcase for the town’s green businesses and industries while highlighting the town’s ongoing environmental protection efforts.
That event helped solidify its standing with Tree City USA, a subsidiary of the Arbor Day Foundation. Holding an Arbor Day Observation is one of four qualifications, along with a dedicated Tree Board or Department, a tree care ordinance and a community forestry program with an annual budget of at Least $2 per capita. Pucellville is one of 55 in Virginia and four in Loudoun County along with Leesburg, Middleburg and Lovettsville.
The Arbor Day Foundation is a million-member nonprofit conservation and education organization. The foundation says that as few as three additional trees planted around each building in the United States could save $2 billion annually in energy costs. In a Town like Purcellville, the foundation says trees yield up to five times their cost to the by a reduction in expenses for energy, stormwater management and erosion control.
“Everyone benefits when elected officials, volunteers and committed citizens in communities like Purcellville make smart investments in urban forests,” said Arbor Day Foundation Chief Executive Matt Harris in a statement. “Trees bring shade to our homes and beauty to our neighborhoods, along with numerous economic, social and environmental benefits.