Communities of Trees
forest was in danger of vanishing," says Mary Alice Reinhardt, president of the city's Tree Board.
Working through the city's board of aldermen and the mayor, local service organizations provided the required local funding for cost sharing. The city of Centralia has planted 40 to 50 trees every year since Branch Out Missouri's inception in 1992. More than just trees have been planted, however. Reinhardt believes that seeds of awareness also have been planted about the importance of trees in a community.
This awareness and the financial commitment to tree care and planting have allowed the city to participate in the National Arbor Day Foundation's Tree City USA program. Tree City USA has been a tool for Centralia to rally civic pride and increase public awareness of the importance of trees in the city's infrastructure.
Kansas City has aggressively participated in the BOM program for several years, according to Mark Govea, assistant manager of horticultural services with Kansas City's Horticultural and Boulevard Services. "The trees provided through this program have been greatly appreciated by the Kansas City community," Govea says.
Branch Out Missouri helped the city's tree planting efforts and provided them an opportunity to work with a large number of individuals, neighborhoods and associations. Kansas City's Horticultural and Boulevard Services have used the BOM program as a tool to match limited dollars. Larger projects were planted at minimal extra cost to the city.
Every community has trees, and most communities have limited resources available for tree planting and care. Trees, however, are an integral part of any community. They can cool homes, increase property values, screen objectional views or reduce noise.
Most communities, like Kansas City and Centralia, find that dollars for landscaping compete with street repair and other infrastructure improvements. Schools like Glendale High School normally would find themselves planting trees only when people donated money. BOM offers an opportunity to stretch limited dollars and to have a larger immediate impact.
During Branch Out Missouri's first year, the Conservation Department mailed $100 coupons to purchase trees to every mayor in the state. In 1992 the agency designed a competitive cost-share program. Since then, the Branch Out Missouri program has awarded almost $900,000 in cost sharing. Communities completed more than 300 projects that included more than 17,000 trees.
The requirements to participate in the program are simple. All trees must be planted on public property, and the trees must measure between 1 to 3 inches in stem diameter. The deadline to submit applications is April 30. Because Branch Out Missouri is a tree planting program, shrubs do not qualify. Cost-share funds are awarded competitively. If a project is funded, applicants can plant trees the following fall or spring.
Who plants trees in your town? Who in your community assures a healthy growing community forest? It could be you. For more information on this program, contact your nearest Conservation Department regional office.