After a very long winter, spring has arrived in full swing and Libby’s volunteer Tree Board has been busy with pruning city trees, assessing winter tree damage, and preparing to celebrate Arbor Day. Libby is one of 3,400 towns (41 in Montana) that are part of the Tree City USA program that provides the framework for community forest management for cities and towns across America. Sponsored by the Arbor Day Foundation, communities achieve Tree City USA status by meeting four core standards of sound urban forest management: maintaining a tree board, having a community tree ordinance, spending at least $2 per capita on urban forestry, and celebrating Arbor Day.
The year 2019 is Libby’s 26th year as a Tree City USA member. Under the stewardship of the volunteer tree board, Libby has added hundreds of trees to its urban forest, for future generations to enjoy. These accomplishments have been made possible because of community volunteers that assist the board in many of its activities. The Libby Tree City USA board and the City of Libby are committed to continued management of its public trees.
In 2018, the Tree Board and volunteers planted a number of sapling size deciduous trees within the city. Some of the planted trees replaced damaged or dead trees. Board members also provided periodic maintenance of tree fencing and bole protection as well as periodic watering where adjacent homeowners are not able or willing to do so. Volunteer board members continue to provide recommendations to the City on taking periodic action for site-specific insect control. Where the assistance of high lift equipment is not necessary, tree board members also conduct critical branch pruning on city trees, clearing lower branches, dead limbs, and to promote specific branch form.
For optimal management, the DNRC conducted a Public Tree Inventory in 2013. This inventory collected information on each individual street tree within city limits. The survey recorded: species, size, health, structural defects, pests and diseases, as well as maintenance tasks required. The city can now create a management plan for the mature and older trees, of our Urban Forest. As trees mature and age, within a city, it is in the best interest of the citizens, their property, infrastructure, and the health of our Urban Forest to provide continued care and controlled removal.
The City of Libby annually recognizes Arbor Day with the mayor’s reading of the proclamation and a planting effort on the last Friday of April. In keeping with this tradition, this year’s celebration is planned to occur at 4 p.m. on April 26. The event will commence with the planting of spring snow crab trees in the small, newly created park adjacent to the city police station. The purchase of these trees was made possible by a grant from the state Department of Natural Resources and Conservation. Afterwards, additional trees will be planted in the general vicinity of the post office. The public is welcome and encouraged to participate in this event.
With the coming growing season, the tree board would like to encourage folks to provide their trees with proper maintenance and care, for the benefit of the community. Deep watering once a week, during the summer months, is essential for tree survival, especially for younger trees. As questions arise, the public is welcome to call members of the tree board for assistance in caring for city trees adjacent to their property.
Our small, volunteer tree board encourages Libby residents to consider joining our group. The only requirement is a desire to help maintain a healthy landscape in the city of Libby. For information on Libby’s tree ordinance or the management of the city trees, please contact Jim Hammons, Supervisor of City Services at 406-293-2731. Members of the tree board are April Rainey, Russ Gautreaux, Gary Huntsberger, Celesta Collachi, Dorothy McBride, and Brian Baxter.
— Russ Gautreaux, Libby Tree Board