When people ask what I do for a living and I tell them I’m an urban forester for the Missouri Department of Conservation, I often get perplexed looks. They are obviously asking themselves, “Isn’t that an oxymoron?”
Actually, it’s not. The Department is committed to the management of forest, fish and wildlife in all of our communities—both rural and urban.
In the Central Region, the following programs are just some of the ways that the Department is involved with supporting our local communities.
Many towns in the Central Region have taken advantage of MDC’s community forestry cost-share program. Funded by MDC, TRIM (Tree Resource Improvement and Maintenance) provides financial assistance for a variety of community forestry-related projects on public property.
TRIM helps fund the development of educational materials, tree inventories, community forestry training, removal of hazardous trees, tree planting and much more. Each applicant can receive up to $10,000. Last year, the Central Region received approximately $51,500 for projects in Columbia, Rocheport, Fayette, Boonville, Centralia, Marshall and Sturgeon.
Fayette’s experience is a good example of how funds have been used. After a major storm swept through the town, staff at the elementary school thought it best to have their playground trees trimmed.
A company was hired to do the work, and rather than selectively removing dead and damaged branches, all the ash trees in the playground were topped. That got the negative attention of many town folk who knew that topping is harmful to trees. A letter was even run in the local paper on how it was a shame that such a practice was conducted at a learning institution.
The school staff was able to turn lemons into lemonade by applying for a TRIM grant. They were given funding to plant hard maple trees in the playground to replace the topped trees, which will be removed once the maples become established. Teachers also taught students about proper tree care.
On the other hand, Centralia requested TRIM funding to maintain trees rather than replace them.
Centralia is blessed with many over-mature ash trees and some are declining. Centralia Tree Board members conducted a hazard tree assessment on part of the publicly owned street and park trees, then applied to have some trees removed and others pruned.
The Tree Board is using the publicly owned trees as an example of how to prune correctly. They were granted funding both for tree removal and tree pruning and to purchase space in their local