An effort is underway to improve tree care in Fort Smith.

The tree committee of the Fort Smith Parks and Recreation Commission on Wednesday approved a motion to invite the staff of Fort Smith Development Services to come to a future meeting of the commission.

Parks Commissioner Lacey Jennen, said Fort Smith has been a Tree City, a member of Tree City USA, for about 12 years. One of the requirements for a Tree City is having a tree ordinance. Fort Smith has a tree ordinance, but it only pertains to the city parks.

"It is not anything that affects anything else within the city, new developments, residential or commercial or industrial," Jennen said. "It doesn't affect anything like that, just within our parks, and of course, our parks do an excellent job of doing the best that they can for tree care." 

Jennen said she thought, to be in line with other cities in the state and elsewhere, the committee needed to further discuss possible options to enhance better tree care, to consider the trees in Fort Smith as an integral part of its infrastructure.

"Right now, the city of Fort Smith does not have anything, any requirements, as far as preserving existing trees on properties, so developers can do as they wish as far as existing trees on property," Jennen said.

Several neighboring cities, such as Springdale, Bentonville, Fayetteville, Little Rock and others, have mechanisms in place to help promote and preserve existing trees on new developments, Jennen said.

"It's time to have something, whatever that something looks like," Jennen said. "There's many examples. Of course, Fayetteville's over here with very, very strict requirements, and then you've got a city like Monticello, who in their ordinances encourage developers to do the right thing and keep trees and green areas at the forefront, and consider them when they are making those development plans."

Fort Smith Parks and Recreation Director Doug Reinert said this is a conversation that must be had with Fort Smith Development Services.