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After the Storm: A Joplin Update

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Published on: Apr. 15, 2013

do a tree inventory. When the cutting, clearing, and counting were finished, they determined that the city had lost between 15,000 and 20,000 trees.

“After the debris was removed, the path of the tornado looked like a 6-mile-long airport runway,” Bolander says.

From the outset, it was obvious that putting trees back onto this wrecked landscape—like all other aspects of the city’s recovery efforts — would be no small task. An urban reforestation effort of this magnitude had never been attempted before in the state, and there are few references for disaster-driven urban forestry recovery plans.

“In these types of situations — due to city location, city size, event type and severity, city resources, available volunteers, and many other factors — there is no standard response to replanting efforts,” says Department of Conservation Urban Forestry Coordinator Nick Kuhn. “However, certain themes carry across all factors and each urban forest manager must choose to work within their resources.”

Coordinating resources

“Community Forestry programs have been an important part of the Department since the 1960s,” says Lisa Allen, Department of Conservation Forestry Division chief and state forester. “As a matter of fact, we were one of the first state forestry agencies in the nation to dedicate a fulltime position to urban and community forestry. [MDC currently has eight urban foresters.] Our community forestry program has grown significantly over the past 20 years due to the expansion of urban areas in Missouri, which is creating increasing stress on many urban natural resources, including trees.”

One of the steps the Department of Conservation took for the Joplin project was to create the position of community forestry recovery coordinator, a two-year term position focused solely on the city’s tree recovery. Ric Mayer works with the Department’s Joplin Urban Forester Jon Skinner and other civic, state, and federal personnel. Mayer’s position is being funded through a two-year grant from the U.S. Forest Service.

Other entities were also involved in Joplin’s forestry recovery. The Department of Natural Resources’ Division of State Parks made up to $400,000 available through the Land and Water Conservation Fund and the Recreational Trails Program to redevelop two community parks. Donation boxes were placed at all Missouri State Parks and historic sites and those funds were used to purchase and plant trees in Joplin-area parks. The Missouri Department of Economic Development authorized $155,000 in Neighborhood Assistance Program tax credits for Forest ReLeaf for

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