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Libby Tree Board shares long-term plans

| February 27, 2007 11:00 PM

To the Editor:

We, the Libby Tree Board would like to share our long-term commitment and plan to improve the health and beauty of Libby's trees and to enlist your support and interest in our Urban Forest Restoration Project, which began in 2006.

There are several problems which our project hopes to address such as the loss of hundreds of trees in the 1997 microburst, the lack of a general plan for the management of city trees, the lack of city funds to pay for expenses such as pruning and stump removal, the increase in watering bills, and the seeming disinterest on the part of some property owners to water city trees or remove dead or diseased trees on their private property. This project needs the enthusiastic support of the entire community, private and government, to be successful.

Our goal as a proud member of Tree City USA is to create those beautiful boulevards one sees in Kalispell or in Missoula and we intend to do so by careful, yearly planning with assistance of urban forestry professionals and with the financial backing of the public and organizations offering grant money for our kind of project.

Last year we decided to initiate our ideas on Louisiana Avenue from the highway to the hospital. We surveyed the street, considering what we would like the street to look like in 20 years. With this guideline, we removed 10 trees that were either diseased, inappropriate species for the boulevard or unsightly. We hired a professional arborist to prune a handful of mature maples near Lincoln Boulevard.

In September we planted 28 drought resistant trees which included two varieties of lindens, honey locust and Manchurian ash.

This project was made possible by Lincoln County Community Foundation which donated $2,000, the state of Montana (DNRC annual Arbor Day grant of $400), private landowners who gave $400, and the city of Libby, which gave $600 plus many hours of work by the city crew.

This year we will continue our work on the south end of Louisiana Avenue with a new survey and plan of tree removal, if necessary, tree pruning and planting. Board members will be contacting residents this summer.

We are also working with Flathead Electric Cooperative to eventually remove all tall trees under power lines and replace them with shorter tree species. We removed 15 trees on Spruce Street this December, and we will be planting flowering crabs this Arbor Day.

We are applying for grant money again this year with the hopes of continuing this project, street by street, until the entire city has a planned treescape that is beautiful and appropriate for boulevards.

If you would like to be a part of this project or include your organization in planting, please contact us at 293-8419. The next time that you drive down Louisiana Avenue, you can see our work and look forward to seeing other streets. With lots of new trees planted.

Dave Friedman

Gary Huntsberger

Russ Gautreaux

Cheryl Chandler

Vicky Lawrence