The National Arbor Day Foundation has honored Leesburg annually as a "Tree City USA" for the last 10 years, but town arborist Jay Banks isn't resting on Leesburg's laurels. He wants to make sure the town's trees stay around for a long time.

Using data from a recent inventory that documents each of the 2,093 trees on the town's public land, Banks is preparing to visit a few of them that a forester noted aren't in the best of health.

"This gives us a great opportunity to put some dollars into trees at an early stage, and we'll see great value from it," Banks said. "I'm going to find lots of uses for [the inventory]."

The inventory, which was conducted in late November and early December by ACRT Environmental Specialists, of Ohio, showed that town public areas--including parks, medians, grounds and roadsides--contain more than 50 species of trees, including a large number of maples, dogwoods and oaks.

"Overall, we have a relatively young population of trees in good condition," Banks said, adding that the tree population has increased by nearly 800 since the last inventory in 1994.

Among the most unusual trees are two dawn redwoods at Robinson Park on Plaza Street. The species is 50 million years old and was thought to be extinct until the trees were found growing in China and propagated, according to Banks.

Information on the location, species and health of each tree was entered into a computer database that Banks said he plans to use to track information on infestations or even the success of a new fertilizer. "We can start looking at the loss of a certain species or in a certain area," he said.

Banks said taking the inventory and creating the database cost $6,000 to $7,000.

In related news, the town's Tree Commission's "2000 by 2000" program is edging closer to its goal of planting 2,000 new trees in town--including not only on public but also private land--between 1998 and the end of this year.

The program, launched on Arbor Day in April 1998, encourages Leesburg residents to plant trees and register them with the town. As an incentive, residents who register receive two free passes to Ida Lee Recreation Center.

Banks reports that 1,898 trees have been planted on public and private property since the program's inception. He also noted that the town has reapplied to renew its designation as a "Tree City USA," a title he believes the town will maintain for years.