MDC awards 2017 Arbor Award of Excellence to Beyond Housing

News from the region
Saint Louis
Published Date

SPRINGFIELD, Mo.—For over 30 years, the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) and the Missouri Community Forestry Council (MCFC) have recognized Missourians who are  outstanding stewards of community trees through the annual Arbor Award of Excellence. 

The 2017 Arbor Award of Excellence for an organization was presented to Beyond Housing of St. Louis for its significant efforts to enhance trees in the 24 communities within the Normandy School District, known as the 24:1 Network. MDC State Forester Lisa Allen presented the award to the non-profit organization at the annual Missouri Community Forestry Council Conference in Springfield March 8.

“The Missouri Arbor Awards of Excellence highlight the people and organizations working to provide sustainable, long-term efforts to care for trees,” said Allen. “Their work is extremely important to assure the many economic, social, and environmental benefits of a healthy community forest.”

In 2016, Beyond Housing entered into a cooperative agreement with MDC to incorporate natural resource management for underserved communities in the St. Louis area through the creation of a community forester position.  MDC agreed to fund the position and Doug Seely, a forester, was hired in March.

Since Seely started, Beyond Housing facilitated successful applications for four Tree Resource Improvement and Maintenance (TRIM) grants.  TRIM is a competitive, cost-share tree care program administered by MDC and MCFC to assist with the management, improvement, or conservation of trees on public lands.  In addition, the organization has offered chainsaw training, conducted two tree plantings, held four Arbor Day ceremonies, and removed and pruned trees in four communities.

Seely has also helped three new communities within the 24:1 Network join Tree City USA, certifying that each one has a viable tree-management plan and program according to standards set by the National Arbor Day Foundation and the National Association of State Foresters.

“The Beyond Housing group has accomplished more critical community forestry work in one year than many communities do in five,” said MDC Community Forester Danny Moncheski.

Trees are visible and valuable assets for any size community, contributing greatly to the appearance and character of the town. They are also part of the public infrastructure and play an essential role in the community, similar to streets, sewers, and utilities.

Nominations for this year’s Arbor Awards of Excellence were evaluated based on sustainability, innovation, use of sound tree management principles. Statewide, a total of four categories were awarded.

For more on community forestry programs or tips on tree care, visit