Brookings Urban Forest Initiative provides funding to community members to plant trees Original

BROOKINGS, S.D. (KELO)– This year, the Brookings Department of Parks, Recreation and Forestry launched a new program to help provide community members with trees for their yards and city boulevards.

“The Brookings Urban Forest Initiative was really started this year as a tool to help the health and sustainability of the Brookings urban forestry,” Dusty Rodiek, Director of Parks, Recreation and Forestry for the City of Brookings, said.

Trees are a part of the community’s identity, he said, and they want to see them continue into the future.

This program is a reimbursement program to help people replace trees in their yards, on their boulevards and along the streets, Rodiek said.

“The intention is we have a lot of mature trees in this city and you know that’s great and they’re beautiful, but some of them are reaching their life expectancy and the only way to continue healthy forest is to plant new trees to take the place of those that through either, you know, maturity or disease or something like that, you know, we may lose a few of those,” Rodiek said.

Rodiek said the program is similar to a program he implemented while working in Mitchell and he saw a need for it in Brookings.

While Emerald Ash Borer has not yet been identified in Brookings county, it is all around and it is likely just a matter of time before it reaches there, Rodiek said.

“With the matures trees that we have nearing their life expectancy and the threat of Emerald Ash Borer, we just thought it would be prudent to take proactive steps for the health of our forest,” Rodiek said.

Since the launch of the program on Earth Day, they have seen a good response from the public, using around two-thirds of their funding already, he said. Rodiek estimates there have been 50 trees planted so far through this program and they are scattered throughout the city.

“The participation has been outstanding,” Rodiek said.

There is a list of approved trees provided on the city’s website. Rodiek said they are participating with local nurseries and providing them with this list.

“It really varies on the location where trees are going to be planted,” he said. “Some of them are small trees to accent some landscapes; some of them are going to be larger trees.”

Right now is the time of the year to plant trees, Rodiek said.

The time frame to participate in the program is going to be limited, he said, as they are already two-thirds of the way through their funding. They may be doing this for around one more week.

To get involved in the program, you can visit a local nursery to get good advice on what trees are good for their area, Rodiek said. Then once the tree is purchased, participants save their receipts and then visit the Department of Parks, Recreation and Forest for a reimbursement.

Rodiek said he would like to continue this program and there are some indications that there may be some people willing to donate funds to see the program go forward.

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