City lauded for urban forestry

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Patrick Rodriguez of Kalispell walks along Fourth Avenue East in Kalispell on Thursday. (Casey Kreider/Daily Inter Lake)

Kalispell recently was recognized as being a Tree City USA for 32 years, meaning the city has had a dedicated Tree Board and/or department, an ordinance for tree care, a community forestry program that financially invest in its trees, and an Arbor day proclamation and day of observance.

In addition, Kalispell has continually gone above and beyond by being a pioneer and leading the way in urban forestry practices, according to Ali Ulwelling, a forestry assistance specialist for the Montana Department of Natural Resources & Conservation. Twenty-six years of continual program improvement has earned the city of Kalispell recognition of the longest active Growth Award in the state of Montana.

Examples of urban forestry program successes can be seen in the pruning for tree health and community safety of over 2,500 city trees in 2018. In October, the Tree Board hosted “Tree Cycle” and led the community on a bicycle ride around Kalispell to highlight notable trees and management of those trees. Recently, the city arborist hosted a successful tree pruning workshop at Lawrence Park that drew 20 community members interested in tree care and maintenance.

Arbor Day has been celebrated since April 10 of 1872, 18 years after J. Sterling Morton moved from Michigan to the Nebraska Territory, a landscape devoid of trees. He encouraged tree planting to improve the environment and beautify the area, hoping to attract more settlers. In 1885, Nebraska declared J. Sterling Morton’s birthday, April 22, as Arbor Day, though its day of observance varies depending on the best time to plant trees in each location.

Kalispell celebrates each year on the fourth Friday in April when they plant trees, teach children about trees, and invite the community to share in the urban forest.

The Kalispell City Council will discuss an update of the city’s tree ordinance at a work session on Monday, April 22.

In 1986 the city council approved a tree ordinance that regulates the planting, maintenance and removal of public trees within the city and established a shade tree commission. In 2007, the council approved amended the original tree ordinance regarding the composition of the Kalispell Street (Shade) Tree Commission.

Staff and Street Tree Commission members have been working together to update and clarify the ordinance to encompass necessary legal changes and make improvements regarding definitions, wording and to unify with other city ordinances and practices. In November 2018, the council reviewed a draft tree ordinance update and made suggestions and recommendations that have been incorporated into the new draft.

The council will use the work session to review the revised draft ordinance. No formal votes may be taken during work sessions. The council meets at 7 p.m. Monday at Kalispell City Hall, 201 First Ave. E.

The city of Kalispell will recognize this year’s Arbor Day from 9:05. a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Friday, April 26, at Woodland Park.

Celebrations will begin with a formal ceremony and brief presentations from local representatives from Kalispell Parks and Recreation Department, the city of Kalispell and the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation. Afterward, 350 third-graders from the Kalispell School District will visit 18 different stations led by local forestry, wildlife, fire and tree professionals and volunteers.

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