Community Forestry Program
The purpose of the Community Forestry Program is to educate citizens and decision-makers about the economic, environmental, psychological, and aesthetic benefits of trees and to assist local governments, citizen groups and volunteers in the planting and sustaining healthy trees and vegetation wherever people live and work in the State of Kansas. The program is administered locally by city government and is supported and sponsored statewide by the Kansas Forest Service.
"To encourage, educate, and enable sound management of Kansas's community forest and associated natural areas."
The program assists Kansas communities and encourage citizen involvement in protecting, expanding, and improving our valuable community forests. State level administration of the Community Forestry Program is funded by federal appropriations through the USDA Forest Service. Additionally, the Kansas Arbor Day Poster Contest is also administered by Community Forestry personnel.
Personnel responsible for the program include a Community Forestry Coordinator and District and Community Foresters.
What is the community forest? It is all of the trees and other vegetation in and around a town, community or city. Traditionally it has referred to tree-lined streets, but a community forest also includes trees in home landscapes, school yards, parks, cemeteries, vacant lots, utility rights-of-way, adjacent woodlands and anywhere else trees and associated vegetation can grow in and around a community of any size. Shrubs, flowers, vines, ground covers, grass, and a variety of wild plants and animals also are part of the community forest. Streets, sidewalks, buildings, utilities, soil, topography and, most importantly, people are an integral part of the community forest.
The Kansas Forest Service, in cooperation with the U.S. Forest Service, established the Kansas Community Forestry Program in 1972. A Community Forestry Program is a systematic approach to managing the forest and tree resource within a community. The program targets the need for tree planting and proper management of established trees within the city easement area, park areas as well as other naturalized areas under the cities management and control. This program, with the support of communities across the state, has grown with involvement and participation of most major Kansas communities and county seats. The backbone of this program is the voluntarily involvement and participation of city officials, mayors, city councils, arborists, tree boards and other volunteers across the state.
The measure of the success and sustainability of community forestry programs is the Tree City USA Program. This national program, coordinated by the National Arbor Day Foundation, assists in the recognition and promotion of communities establishing a well rounded community forestry program. During the past program year, one hundred and two communities were certified as a Tree City USA. The combined volunteer efforts of over 504 individuals serving on local tree boards, with support and assistance of their local District and Community Foresters, coordinated the planting of over 10,652 trees, pruned over 55,651 trees and removed an additional 10,341 trees which were dead, dying, or represented hazards. These 102 communities represent 70% of the population of Kansas and spent over $17.6 million in managing and protecting the community forest resource of the state.
There are 925 incorporated and unincorporated cities and towns in Kansas. These communities comprise 942,507 acres of land and represent over 80% of the total state population of 2.8 million. The Kansas Forest Service's Community Forestry Program focuses on the 637 communities with a population of 100 or more residents. These communities are home to 77% of the total state population.
Kansas Forest Service's program priorities are:
- Organization of local volunteer and municipal tree boards to advise government on public tree activities.
- Tree planting.
- Tree care and maintenance.
- Dead tree removal.
- Waste wood utilization.