Columbia Falls Wins State Urban Forestry Award

By Beacon Staff

The Montana Department of Natural Resources & Conservation, along with the Montana Urban & Community Forestry Association, selected Columbia Falls as one of two recipients of this year’s Urban Forestry Excellence Awards.

Forsyth, located southeast of Billings on Interstate 94, also received the award.

According to John Grassy, spokesman for the state DNRC, the Excellence Award is given to those communities that show great enthusiasm for urban forestry over the past years. Nominations come from cities and towns all across Montana with many noteworthy urban forestry programs and projects. The communities receive a plaque and a $1,000 grant for an urban forestry project, including tree planting and care, education and program development.

In a press release, Jamie Kirby, coordinator for the agency’s urban and community forestry program, praised both communities.

“We want to thank the people of Forsyth and Columbia Falls for their dedication to creating and maintaining a sustainable urban forestry program for their community,” Kirby said. “We are pleased to acknowledge their hard work.”

Forsyth’s major accomplishments include hosting the state governor’s Arbor Day celebration in 2004 and the Eastern Montana Community Forestry conference in 2007, according to the release. The community recently completed an inventory of all city trees in 2008 and is working on a management plan that will guide urban forestry efforts for the next 10 years.

Columbia Falls is working towards its first-time Tree City USA status for 2008, by establishing a community Tree Board, celebrating Arbor Day and adopting a Tree Ordinance. The town is also working on completing a tree inventory and has a newly-found passion for urban forestry among both local government and residents.

For more information about this awards program or urban & community forestry, contact your regional DNRC urban forester. Western Montana: Jamie Kirby, (406) 542-4284. Eastern Montana: Fred Bicha, (406) 247-4403.