Community Forestry in North Dakota

Gerri Marchus

The Community Forestry program team leads the North Dakota Forest Service agency effort to provide assistance to communities throughout the state. Team members are located at branch Forest Service office locations in Bismarck, Carrington, Lisbon, Walhalla and Watford City. Assistance is provided for community forestry program needs assessment, planning and implementation. In addition, technical assistance regarding planting care, problem diagnosis, and trimming or removal of community trees is provided. Each year, well over 100 communities request and receive this support.

Annually, a statewide challenge cost-share program is implemented to provide funds for tree planting projects and community forestry program development. In FY97, 37 communities received a total of nearly $160,000 in grant funds. Ten communities participated in the forestry apprentice program, providing these communities with seasonal tree planting, maintenance and assessment services. Of the communities involved with program development projects, 43% of the funds distributed were used in the implementation of Dutch Elm Disease management programs. In all, with matching funds raised by recipient communities, projects totaling over $347,000 were completed this past year.

In North Dakota, 48 communities have attained the status of "Tree City USA". These towns were recognized for this achievement at the regional annual League of Cities meetings in April, 1997. The number of tree cities in the state has grown from 29 Tree City USAs in 1990 to the present number.

Spring tree planting workshops were conducted in Grand Forks and Bismarck, with attendance from 27 different communities. An annual Fall Horticulture Tour and Workshop is offered at the Carrington Research Center. This fall, over 80 people attended and toured local landscapes. Local workshops are conducted around the state by community forestry personnel throughout the year by request of community representatives.

Excessive spring flooding in the state made a negative impact upon many communities, particularly in the Red River Valley and other localized areas in the state. The 1997 Community Forestry Flood Damage Assessment Report estimates that over 5000 community trees valued at over $525,000 were damaged or destroyed. Most of the trees destroyed during the flood were less than three inches in diameter, and planted within the last five years in parks, sub-divisions and city nurseries along river corridors. The heaviest losses were from mechanical damage caused by large sheets of ice or flood debris shearing off young trees, and from emergency dike-building efforts within and adjacent to the planted areas. Early in 1997, FEMA eliminated funding to replace trees and other natural resources destroyed by natural disasters. Consequently, the NDFS will give priority for tree replacement-plantings to those communities affected by the 1997 flood during the next challenge grant program sign-up.

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