Community Forestry

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Staff Contact
City Forester
Matt Clinton

 Tree City USA Rock Hill
Tree City USA
Tree City USA is a national recognition program founded by the Arbor Day Foundation and administered in South Carolina by the South Carolina Forestry Commission. Rock Hill was first recognized as a Tree City USA in 1987 by meeting the four standard requirements: a tree ordinance, a tree board or department, a prescribed minimum per capita annual expenditure on tree maintenance, and an Arbor Day proclamation and observance. To remain in the program the City must meet the recertification requirements each year.

Public Tree Ordinance
Rock Hill's public tree ordinance was enacted by City Council in 1987 (City Code, Chapter 28 TREES). Over the years it has been reorganized, revised and improved, yet it remains substantially true to the original. The ordinance created the Rock Hill Tree Commission, the position of City Forester, and outlines the duties and jurisdiction of each. It also addresses the duties of private tree owners to maintain their trees in a safe condition, and outlines a legal procedure to abate trees that meet the definition of "nuisance" trees. It creates the requirement of a permit to plant or perform maintenance on any public tree.

Rock Hill Tree Commission
The Rock Hill Tree Commission is a board made up of citizens appointed by City Council. They provide advice and guidance to the Forester and City Council on tree-related issues and the development of our ongoing community forestry program.  Each year, the Tree Commission presents an award to an individual or group for their efforts regarding Rock Hill's trees.

ANSI A-300 Standards
This is a compilation of national standards for tree pruning, planting, fertilization, lightning protection, and preservation. These standards are applied to public trees, and are recommended for private trees as well. These standards have been developed by mutual accord with stakeholders and are regularly reviewed and revised by a national committee of stakeholders.

Arbor DayArbor Day tree planting
Due to local differences in climate and tradition, Arbor Day is celebrated at different times in each of the 50 states. In South Carolina, Arbor Day is the first Friday in December. The City of Rock Hill observes Arbor Day by collaborating with a local elementary school to plant a tree. The City provides the tree and provides technical assistance, and the school designates a time for the observance and assigns students and faculty to plan and participate in the ceremonies. The Tree Commission presents the annual winner of the Rock Hill Tree Commission Award at the Arbor Day observance.

Landscaping and Development
The Rock Hill Planning and Development Department administers the various codes that require landscaping during the land development or redevelopment process. The Landscape Architect reviews landscape plans and inspects final landscape installations. For more specific information, call the Permit Application Center at 803/329-5590. York County has its own set of landscaping and tree retention requirements.

Rock Hill Utilities and Trees
The City utilizes contracted tree crews to maintain our electric distribution system. Rights-of-way are maintained utilizing the national standard for pruning trees near utility lines, contained in the American National Standards Institute's (ANSI) A-300 Standards. 

Memorial Tree Program
The City has a program in which citizens can donate $25 and have a tree planted in memory or honor of a loved one. Trees are planted in groups, rather than individually, and individual trees are not specifically identified. However, the City provides a full color certificate listing the planting date and location, and type of tree that was planted.  For more information about the City's Memorial Tree Program, contact the City Forester, Matt Clinton, at 803-329-5534.  Open the Memorial Tree Giving Form 

Thanks to Rock Hill Tree Commission member Joshua Nypaver for compiling this video:

A.W. Huckle City Beautification Fund

In 1960 the City entered into an agreement to manage the interest generated by a $25,000 gift from the late A. W. Huckle, former publisher of The Herald. The agreement set up the A. W. Huckle Beautification Committee that may authorize expenditures from this fund for planting trees and shrubs along streets and other public places in Rock Hill. 

Street trees: Who is responsible?
Street trees are often located in the right-of-way of a street or roadway. Sometimes they are between the sidewalk and curb, in the area known as the "planting strip". It would be expected to assume that the City has jurisdiction over all these trees, however, the South Carolina Department of Transportation is responsible for maintaining the road right-of-way along the majority of streets inside the city limits. To add to the confusion, in recent years trees have been required to be installed near streets as part of the rules for land development. While these trees may appear to be street trees, they may actually be planted on private property, and therefore privately owned and maintained. 

Other City Resources  

  • Environmental Education Programs - The City's Parks, Recreation and Tourism Department has environmental education specialists on staff.
  • Community Forest Management Plan
    This is the plan for systematic management of public trees. It was developed by the City Forester and the Tree Commission. 
  • Recommended Street Trees
    The Tree Commission maintains 3 lists of tree species selected especially for use in the Rock Hill area. Two of the lists have to do with recommended street trees: Canopy Trees (large maturing trees) and Ornamental Trees (smaller maturing trees).  These 2 lists represent trees which are best suited to use as street trees in Rock Hill.  The 3rd list is a list of trees for use underneath power lines.

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