The value of trees in a community is often overshadowed by other aesthetic elements. However, following the May 2011 tornado that reduced 17,000 trees to stumps, it brought to light the significance of a healthy urban forest in city parks, neighborhoods and along streets.
To learn more about Joplin’s current tree inventory and its condition, the City conducted a tree survey. Funded through a $25,000 Tree Resource Improvement and Maintenance (TRIM) Grant from the Missouri Department of Conservation, the survey will be completed in three phases. Initial surveying took place in 2016 and focused on parks, cemeteries, and other public areas. This year’s focus was on the central area of Joplin that was struck by the tornado.
“A tree survey is the first step in getting a snapshot of the health of our tree canopy,” said Mike McDaniel with Parks and Recreation. “The results provide an inventory and an assessment about our existing trees. And all of this data will be helpful in planning for the future of our community forest.”
The 2017 inventory work focuses mainly on trees in public right-of-ways. McDaniel estimates that 6000 trees will be studied during the inventory. Other inventories will be needed to measure the rest of Joplin’s public trees.
“We lost about 17,000 trees as a result of the tornado, however many of those were private trees,” he said. “The survey will give us good information about the number of trees in the public areas, as well as their condition. In knowing more about our current stock, it will help us maintain them more effectively, and plant trees according to the identified needs in the survey.”
Davey Resource Group from Kent, OH is working with McDaniel to conduct this portion of the survey. Each tree was recorded for its size, species, the GPS coordinates of its physical location, and a hazard assessment, which notes items such as dead limbs, poor structure, the potential failure of a tree, or widow makers (broken limbs in upper branches).
TRIM is a competitive, cost-share tree care program administered by the Missouri Department of Conservation in cooperation with the Missouri Community Forest Council. The program assists government agencies, public schools, and nonprofit groups with the management, improvement, or conservation of trees on public lands. Projects eligible for TRIM funding include tree inventory, removal or pruning of hazardous trees, tree planting, and training of volunteers and city/county employees to best care for our community forests.
The City of Joplin has received TRIM grants in the past for educational materials and conferences. This type of support is beneficial to the City in maintaining its Tree City USA status.