Published June 1, 2021
Look around Ottumwa and it’s easy to see that trees are an important part of our community. From our city parks to our neighborhoods to our trails and nature areas, you’ll see trees everywhere. They not only help the city’s visual appeal, but they reduce cooling costs during the hottest months, remove air pollutants and provide wildlife habitat.
And we’re proud to have been named a Tree City USA by the Arbor Day Foundation and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. To earn this recognition, a city must have a tree board or department, a tree care ordinance, an annual community forestry budget of at least $2 per capita and an Arbor Day observance and proclamation.
Earlier this year, the City of Ottumwa was honored with the 2020 Tree City USA Growth Award. Every year the Urban Forestry Awards recognizes cities, college campuses and utilities that demonstrate a variety of dedication to the importance of trees in their respective areas. To receive the award, a city must show how it provide, education and public relations, partnerships, planning and management, and tree planting and maintenance in their communities.
How can you best experience what Ottumwa: Tree City USA has to offer? We’re so glad you asked.
- Explore the Ottumwa City Park System. With 26 parks covering more than 600 acres of land, each park has its own special features, including shelters, benches, playground equipment and trails. Which one will be your favorite?
- Take to the Wapello County Trails. With 16 miles of trails in the Wapello County Trail System, there are countless places in Ottumwa to get outside and enjoy the scenic urban forests. The 16-mile trail system includes a 5K John Deere Loop, a 1-mile loop between Market Street and the Wabash Bridge, two loops through Greater Ottumwa Park and a 1-mile section by Gray Eagle Wildlife Preserve – each one perfect for walking, running, biking, rollerblading and birdwatching.
- Spend the day at Pioneer Ridge Nature Area. Located just south of Ottumwa on Highway 63, Pioneer Ridge has 15 miles of hiking, biking and horseback riding trails, as well as four stocked ponds for public fishing and a two-story nature center.
- Try all seven of Wapello County’s disc golf courses. In Ottumwa, you’ll find courses at Indian Hills Community College, Memorial Park, Franklin Park and Wildwood Park. Courses around Wapello County can also be found at Sandy Dunes in Eddyville, Chippewa Creek in Eldon and just south of Ottumwa at the Pioneer Ridge Nature Area.
- Show off your skills on the Memorial Park Mountain Bike Trail. Winding its way through the thick trees at Memorial Park, you’ll find a 5-mile mountain biking trail. These unpaved trails are designed to be a challenging off-road experience and feature a switchback, jumps and a steep ravine. Also open to hikers, the main trailhead is located at the timber’s edge under the Bulldog Water Tower off Elm Street.