(BLOOMINGTON) – The Indiana Arborist Association (IAA) in partnership with the Indiana Society of Arboriculture (ISA) presented the City of Bloomington Parks and Recreation Department with the IAA Gold Leaf Award at the IAA’s annual meeting, held virtually on Jan. 26.
The Gold Leaf Award is presented annually to recognize communities for outstanding Arbor Day programs, tree plantings, and community landscape beautification projects. The city’s Switchyard Park, whose landscape design emphasizes native landscaping, was nominated for the award.
“Our Tree City is thrilled to be honored with this award,” said Mayor John Hamilton, “and grateful for the leadership of our Parks Department in stewarding this property at every stage–from remediation to landscape design to daily maintenance. The transformation of this tract from a disused railyard to a verdant hub has manifold, long-lasting benefits for the environment and the quality of life for all of our residents.”
“As Indiana’s first community to receive Tree City USA designation from the National Arbor Day Foundation, Bloomington has a long-standing commitment to maintaining and growing our urban forest,” said Paula McDevitt, administrator of the Parks and Recreation Department. “The planting of native species and controlling invasive plants is an ongoing focus for our urban forestry and urban green space crews. We are grateful for our staff’s expertise and work in these areas, and are honored to receive this prestigious award from Indiana’s urban forestry community.”
The Gold Leaf Award selection committee reviewed Switchyard Park’s extensive landscape plan that included details about Clear Creek, which was buried in a culvert for more than 100 years under the former railroad switchyard before it was daylighted during park construction. Once returned to the surface, the banks of Clear Creek were planted with hundreds of native plants, shrubs, and wildflowers. Invasive tree species were removed to allow for the planting of more than 600 native trees, including several species of fruit- and nut-bearing trees. Hundreds more native wetland and pollinator-friendly plant species were planted in Switchyard Park.
IAA Executive Director Lindsey Purcell said in a statement, “This is an opportunity for the ISA chapters to acknowledge worthy municipalities for projects that have had a significant impact on a community. Congratulations to your organization for making our world greener and better.”
Bloomington Mayor John Hamilton accepted the plaque on behalf of the Parks and Recreation Department and Switchyard Park.