MDC community forester excited to begin new duties

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – The word “forestry” has long been associated with management of large tracts of timber that are far removed from cities and suburbia. However, an increasing of people are realizing tree management is important in urban areas, too.

Justin Holmes will be addressing urban forestry issues in nine counties in southwest Missouri in his new job as Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) Community Forester. Holmes’ primary territory will consist of Greene, Hickory, Polk, Christian, Dallas, Stone, Taney, Webster, and Laclede counties. He began his duties Nov. 1 and will work out of MDC’s Southwest Regional Office in Springfield. He replaces Taylor Kennemer, who is now a resource forester with MDC. Holmes is one of seven MDC Community Foresters in the state.

Prior to his current position, Holmes was a County Forester for Douglas County in Wisconsin. The Superior, WI native received a bachelor’s degree in forest management and urban forestry from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. However, he also received a two-year degree from Ozarks Technical Community College in Springfield and his time in southwest Missouri generated an interest in forestry issues in the Show-Me State.

“I am excited to be back in the Ozarks,” he said. “I look forward to getting reacquainted with all the local communities and working with them to promote healthy, resilient, community forests.”

Some may think aesthetics are the primary thrust of urban forestry work, but community forestry management consists of much more than planting trees in city parks. Energy savings, erosion control, and noise reduction are among the economic benefits that businesses, civic organizations, and urban entities can gain from strategic tree plantings.

Holmes’ main duties will be with public and private businesses and agencies in his counties. He will share urban forestry duties in in southwest Missouri with MDC Community Forester Jon Skinner, who works out of MDC’s Shoal Creek Conservation Education Center in Joplin and covers Jasper, Newton, McDonald, Barry, Barton, Lawrence, Dade, and Cedar counties.

Holmes can be reached at People can learn more about urban forestry and other community conservation issues at