he Missouri Community Forestry Council and Missouri Department of Conservation have recognized Beyond Housing, a comprehensive community development non-profit organization, with the Missouri Arbor Award of Excellence for their work in community forestry. Beyond Housing focuses its revitalization and community-building efforts on the 24:1 Community, the 24 municipalities that make up the Normandy School Collaborative (district) in North St. Louis County.
The Missouri Arbor Award of Excellence recognizes projects that demonstrate a sustained effort to care for the trees of Missouri.
“Beyond Housing has achieved more success in seven months (in regards to community forestry), than some cities do in seven years,” said Daniel Moncheski, Community Forester with the Missouri Department of Conservation. “I work with cities that range in population from 200 to 80,000 people. The buy-in for trees by the mayors in the 24:1 rivals the largest cities I work with. I pinch myself when I help out here to make sure this is real.”
Beyond Housing added community forester Doug Seely to its staff in 2016 after entering into a five-year, $500,000 cooperative agreement with the Missouri Department of Conservation. In just the short time since bringing Mr. Seely on board, Beyond Housing has led the 24:1 communities in efforts to conduct routine maintenance of trees that have been neglected for years, hosted training workshops for community leaders and community forestry companies, and hosted two community tree planting projects.
“There’s great benefit in a healthy forest canopy in urban areas. Trees, parks and other green spaces increase property values, protect from soil erosion, and protect homes and streets from the harsh effects of the sun,” said Doug Seely, Community Forester with Beyond Housing. “Our initiatives in community forestry have helped to create vibrant green spaces for the 24:1 Community and show how important the forestry canopy is when building a community that can sustain generations of families.”
“Requests for assistance with improving their forest canopy have been rolling in since before we began this project,” Seely continued. “By adding additional tree inventories, management plans, training for city employees and local contractors, community engagement and plantings, assistance with grants like the Tree Resource improvement and Maintenance (TRIM) grant offered by the Missouri Department of Conservation, we will help these communities maintain and improve one of their most important community assets – trees.”
About Missouri Arbor Award of Excellence
The Missouri Arbor Award of Excellence recognizes those who act as good stewards for trees in our individual communities. Any significant program, project or event that contributes to the care or maintenance of trees in our towns and cities could qualify for an award. This award is intended to recognize projects that demonstrate a sustained overall effort to care for trees.