New MDC Forestry position targets Joplin tree recovery

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JOPLIN, Mo -- Trees are a vital component of any thriving community. That’s why re-establishing trees in Joplin’s tornado-damaged landscape will be the focus of a newly established Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) position in the Joplin area.

Ric Mayer is MDC’s new Community Forestry Recovery Coordinator and will work out of the Joplin Parks and Recreation Office, 3310 W. First St. Mayer’s primary duties will be to work with city staffs of Joplin, Duquesne and the surrounding area affected by the May 22, 2011 tornado. Mayer’s job, which is a two-year position, was created with funding from the U.S. Forest Service.

“This is the first time anyone, anywhere has done this and we think we have all the right pieces in place to do this,” said Nick Kuhn, MDC Community Forestry coordinator. “Joplin and the surrounding communities can be rebuilt, but it will take people calling them 'home' to be a neighborhood. That takes flowers, gardens and, most importantly, trees.”

Prior to coming to MDC, Mayer worked 17 years with the Springfield/Greene County Park Board. He has also done volunteer work with the Missouri Prairie Foundation on a number of projects.

“Ric was hired because he fit our hopes for the job perfectly,” Kuhn said. “He has experience with natural areas, tree care and lots of experience working with people who care about improving their pieces of the world.”

A large part of Mayer’s job will be re-establishing trees as a component of Joplin’s 23 parkland locations, an area that comprises 933 acres of public-use facilities in the city. Mayer can be contacted at, or 417-624-6937.