The Forestry Division is primarily responsible for providing a safe urban forest while striving to preserve it’s natural beauty. Typical activities include the removal of dead and hazardous boulevard trees and overgrown roots which raise sidewalks, planting of replacement trees, trimming, assessment of health, and providing public information. The Forestry Divsion is devoted to managing Owatonna’s urban forest resources, boulevards, and parks to improve the quality of life, the environment, and the economic well-being of citizen’s and guests.
Tree City USA
Since 1991, the City of Owatonna has been recognized as a Tree City USA community by the National Arbor Day Foundation. Through cooperation with of citizen members on the Shade Tree Commission Board and the Public Works Department, the quality of the City’s urban forest has continually undergone beautification and enhancement. The City currently maintains approximately 4,900 boulevard trees that provide shade, aesthetics, stormwater benefits, and character to our neighborhoods, streets, and parks.
The Tree City USA program is a national program that provides the framework for community forestry management for cities and towns across America. The City has been recognized as Tree City USA for 29 years. Communities achieve Tree City USA status by meeting four core standards of sound urban forestry management: maintaining a tree board or department, having a community tree ordinance, spending at least $2 per capita on urban forestry and celebrating Arbor Day. Participating communities have demonstrated a commitment to caring for and managing their public trees. Together the more than 3,400 Tree City USA communities serve as home to more than 135 million Americans.
- There are more than 3,400 communities that are currently a Tree City USA.
- There are more than 500 communities that received a Growth Award.
- Over 135 million people live in a Tree City USA.
Value of Trees
- Trees increase property values and have proven to be a sound investment for public dollars (for every dollar spent on tree planting and care yields benefits that are two to five times the investment) - U.S Forest Service 2011
- Remove pollution from the atmosphere, improving air quality and human health
- Contribution to our overall health, including reductions in stress - U.S Forest Service 2013
- Trees provide an abundance of oxygen (one large tree can provide oxygen for 4 people for one day)
- Trees help clean and preserve water for drinking and recreational use
- Trees provide cooling, wind blockage, and save energy (carefully placed trees can reduce household energy consumption for heating and cooling up to 25%) - Department of Energy
- Helps to reduce crime - University of Vermont Study
- Provide critical habitat for wildlife
The City received funding to replace some storm damaged trees from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (MNDNR) through a Community Forestry Bonding Grant. Throughout 2013 and 2014, the City successfully planted 300 public trees in various locations including Buxton Trail at Elm Avenue, Chase Lake, Sunnydale Stormwater Pond, as well as several City parks.
This grant project funded planting of the following 5 tree species:
- Majestic Skies Oak
- Princeton Elm
- Skyline Locust
- Swamp White Oak
Tree Ordinance Update
The Community Forestry Bonding Grant required the City to update the tree ordinance to include shade tree pest management for certain threats to the City’s urban forest, such as; Oak Wilt, Dutch Elm Disease, and Emerald Ash Borer (EAB). The original tree ordinance was created in 1991 as part of receiving Tree City USA recognition. Currently the ordinance draft has been developed and is undergoing preliminary review by the Shade Tree Commission.
Annual Maintenance Plan
The grant also required the City to develop an Annual Maintenance Plan for the newly planted community trees and an Emerald Ash Borer Preparedness Plan to adequately control the spread of EAB and cost effectively mitigate the threat to public health and welfare from fast decaying Ash trees. Currently the management plans have been developed and are undergoing preliminary review by the Shade Tree Commission.