Sustainable Urban Forestry In Iowa

Monday, January 9, 2017
The Huxley tree board gathers in the parking lot at Centennial Park early on a Saturday morning.  The tree board is volunteering their time in the summer months to conduct a community tree inventory of the 646 city owned trees.  Their many hours conducting the inventory will result in a tree management plan to improve the health of the city owned trees.  It is estimated that the trees will provide $57,704 worth of benefits annually, but benefits continue beyond the inventory results.  The engagement of the tree board in management of city owned trees will benefit the small community for years to come. 

The community tree inventory is just one of the City of Huxley’s successes through the Sustainable Urban Forestry Assistance and Training (SUFTA) program. The program is funded in partnership with the Forest Service and the Iowa DNR.  The program assists communities by training and educating city staff, tree board members, elected officials, and community members in order to enable each community to develop and maintain a sustainable forestry program.  In total, twenty communities will receive intensive training by a team of DNR Forestry staff in tree id, tree inventory, tree planting and maintenance, and many other topics.  Each community will receive a community tree management plan with canopy goals, scheduled maintenance, and planting schedule.  The focus is to prepare and manage Emerald Ash Borer, train municipal staff in urban forestry best management practices, as well as increase urban tree canopy.

During the 2015 grant application cycle Huxley was one of ten communities awarded the grant, the others were: Algona, DeWitt, Hiawatha, Maquoketa, Newton, Sioux City, Spencer, Waverly, and Webster City.  The 2014 grant cycle assisted ten communities the previous year. 
The tree board members have noted Sustainable Urban Forestry training has been an asset as the partner with the city to improve their urban forest.  Tree Board Member Mike Betz said, “As for me, the hands-on tree identification and tree inventory survey was essential for recognizing and identifying various tree species.  Other learning highlights were the information on proper tree mulching as well as guidelines for the pruning of younger tree for their long term shape and health.”  Wayne Messer, tree board member touted his skills identifying symptoms of emerald ash borer on a tree in a nearby city, “Checking out the tree, I knew it was a white ash and it did have some bark splitting on the branches and a little flecking.  Before the classes I'm sure I would have thought that unknown tree is just having a hard time.”