Latest TUFC News

Branching Out

Message from the President

Neil Letson

I’ve always agreed with Ben Franklin that honesty is the best policy. Being truthful is important, especially when you’re in a leadership position with an organization like the Tennessee Urban Forestry Council (TUFC).  As everyone knows, the past two years have been challenging. So much so that corrective actions had to be taken to stabilize the organization and rebuild its programs and effectiveness. I’m glad to say that the Council is now in the rebuilding process. First and foremost, we now have our financial house in order.  Our budget is balanced and we have a reserve fund to keep our administrative tasks going. We’ve also rebooted our Certified Arboreta Program. Organizations can now submit online applications to add their arboretum to our state’s growing list. Signage has been redesigned. Site inspectors are being recruited. Efforts continue to streamline the process.  I want to personally thank Sharon Jean-Philippe for taking the bull by the horns to get this program back online. That being said, we will announce very soon the reopening of our Tree Sanctuary Program. This program has the potential to reach individual homeowners in ways no other program can. Ashley Kite-Rowland deserves all the credit for bringing this program back to life. So, get ready to submit your applications when details are announced. And lastly, the TUFC Board adopted a strategic plan to guide its efforts over the next three years. It’s an ambitious plan, but one that can make the TUFC an organization that inspires and empowers people to develop, grow, and sustain vibrant, healthy, and productive urban and community forests in Tennessee. Click this link to see a copy. Here’s my final message. Everything the TUFC does and will do is based on being relevant to you and your community.  Your voice is important.  We want to hear from you.  Let’s us know what the TUFC can do to help you make a difference where you live through urban and community trees.

Nominations for Awards of Excellence

The Awards of Excellence program recognizes those people and groups that exhibit outstanding leadership, education efforts or activities that have made a significant contribution to establishing and maintaining viable community forests in Tennessee. If you know of a deserving person or group, visit our website for more information on how to make a nomination. Deadline to submit nominations is July 31.

Nominations for Legacy, Historic, and Heritage Trees

A Landmark Tree is recognized as an established and familiar feature of the community, confirmed as a significant part of the community’s heritage, or planted to commemorate special events or community leaders more than fifty years ago.
A Historic Tree has been a direct witness to a historic event or cultural movement significant nationally, regionally, or within the state and confirmed to date to that time.
A Heritage Tree is a fallen member of the registry whose contribution to the history and heritage of Tennessee deserves preserving. Visit our website for more information on how to make a nomination. Deadline to submit nominations is July 31.

Neil Letson

Program Spotlight:


Introduction to Citizen Urban Forestry Workshop

September 13th from 1:00-5:00 the workshop was offered in Nashville at our Middle Tennessee Center of Excellence, Cheekwood Estate & Gardens.  The class covered the importance of trees, tree identification, tree installation, EAB and tree pruning.

CUF Workshop 2018

 CUF Workshop 2018

In 2019 we will be offering an advanced course for those that would like to learn key tree features to help them identify trees in the winter.  If you would be interested in this class, please fill out the survey to help us determine a day and time that would work for you.

Winter Tree Identification Survey

We also plan to offer a series of classes (once a week) in the Fall of 2019 that will be similar to the Master Gardner’s certification program but all on trees!  Be on the lookout for more information!

 New Arboreta in East & Middle,

Recertified in Middle & West TN!

Katie Killebrew

This is current board member & past President Katie Killebrew, Clarksville City Forester @ Liberty Park our most recent new level 1 arboretum!

Dianna Davies

And Dianna Davies w Fort Wood arboretum also one of our newest level one arboretum entries last November.

We’d like to congratulate both arboretum’s for their hard work and attention to detail and superb excellence!

New Level 1 – Jacob’s Nature Park, Johnson City

Jacob's Nature Park Arboretum

New Level 1 – Belle Forest Cave Property, Nashville

Belle Forest Arboretum

New Level 1 – Cane Creek Park, Cookeville

Cane Creek Arboretum

New Level 1 – City Lake Natural Area,  Cookeville

City Lake Natural Area Arboretum

Recertified Level 4 – Memphis Botanic Garden, Memphis

Memphis Botanic Garden Arboretum

Recertified Level 1 – Ridgetop Station Park, Ridgetop

Ridgetop Station Park Arboretum

Recertified Level 1 – The Arboretum at Southwind, Memphis

Southwind Arboretum

Learn more about these arboreta and make plans to visit one soon!  Click Here

Tennessee Urban Forestry Launches New Tennessee Champion Tree Program!

In 2016, a team of students and faculty at the University of Tennessee contracted with the TN Division of Forestry to re-inventory the state’s champion trees. Revitalizing a program that began in the early 1970’s. Now the torch has been passed to the Tennessee Urban Forestry Council. CLICK HERE to view program details and the updated list of Tennessee’s largest trees!

Amazing New Volunteer Log

Reward Volunteers

Log your time today on our Connections page.

Join our Board of Directors

The Tennessee Urban Forestry Council (TUFC) is deeply rooted in promoting healthy and sustainable urban and community forests which contribute to clean air and water, economic stability, and beautiful green places in which all Tennesseans and future generations will love, work and play. To continue to promote these efforts the TUFC is accepting board nominations year round. If you are interested in serving on the Board of Directors, please let us know. All board members are required to choose a committee to serve on. Committee assignments are detailed below. Self-nominations are welcomed.

 New Tree Sanctuary in Arlington, TN!

Wilson Tree Sanctuary

See more pictures of the Wilson’s property and other Tree Sanctuaries throughout Tennessee HERE

”Nature does nothing uselessly.”


Volunteer Spotlight

The Memphis Botanic Garden’s Tree Team is a group of 5 volunteers that trudge over our 96 acres to maintain the Level 4 Arboretum and Conifer Reference Garden. They also help with outreach projects for our Center of Excellence responsibilities. It consists of (in order of joining) Polly Baxter, Jan Castillo, Sean Pflaumer, Deb Foehring and Linnea West. It began with a statement from a volunteer about 14 years ago when we were discussing the Arboretum program overseen by TUFC. “We could do that” became a several year project as we ‘went for the gold’ and catalogued and mapped 188 trees.  Volunteers have come and gone (as have some of the trees) but we continue to have about the same number of trees on our recertification list. The tree team loves a field trip, and one of their favorite activities is helping local agencies (schools, parks, cemeteries) become Certified Arboretums. There have been many animated discussions when trying to define exactly which oak or hickory might be added to a list. Their current project is collecting way points on all of the ‘certified’ trees so our map will be more accurate. They have also developed a spread sheet of information on each of the trees with the soon to be realized dream of making this information available to visitors through smart phones while walking out on our grounds. Now, if we could just clone them and assign a group to the shrubs, vines, perennials…

Laurie Williams, Memphis Botanic Garden

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