The phrase “conservation of trees on public lands” brings to mind lush forests in the Ozarks, not the buildings, streets, and sidewalks of North St. Louis County.
But under a Tree Resource Improvement and Maintenance (TRIM) Grant from the Missouri Department of Conservation, it doesn’t matter where a tree has put down roots. The cost-share tree care program will assist any community with publicly owned trees—and the 24:1 Community has more than 6,000 of them.
Bel-Nor, Pasadena Park, and Pasadena Hills received TRIM Grants of $10,000 each for the care of trees in their municipalities. Under the program, the state and cities share the cost of tree inventories, planning, tree removal, pruning, planting, and training on how to care for community forests. The state pays 60% and the cities pay 40% (unless they are a Tree City USA, then the state pays 75% and the cities pay 25%).
“Without the Missouri Department of Conservation and these grants, these cities would struggle to do this work,” said Doug Seely, a community forester who works at Beyond Housing. His office has helped other municipalities in the 24:1 footprint secure TRIM grants in the past.
“Long term, this will lead to better living conditions and better well-being,” Seely said. Trees reduce air pollution both indoors and out, cut home air conditioning and heating bills, and even deter crime. A 10% increase in trees in a neighborhood reduces crime by 12%.
And, of course, trees contribute visually to the community’s vibrancy—which residents of the 24:1 footprint have named as a priority for the coming decade. Beyond Housing believes that its Ask, Align, Act model for engaging the community to become active participants is essential in building relationships and creating real change.
Each of the three municipalities will have a slightly different focus in the coming months, Seely said. Pasadena Hills, for example, will prune and remove dead or damaged specimens from its inventory of nearly 800 trees.
Bel-Nor will also prune and remove trees, but in addition, it will plant new trees and use a “structural soil process” to handle “tree and sidewalk conflicts” with as little damage as possible to the trees or the concrete.
For Pasadena Park, the newest TRIM Grant participant, the first step was to take an inventory of its trees. Its city leaders now know it has just under 500 trees—and sadly, many of them are ash trees that have been killed by the emerald ash borer. Seely anticipates more losses next year—and now his team will be able to say for sure what those losses look like thanks to the TreeKeeper database that he uses to track every public tree in the 24:1 footprint.
Seely expects local communities to continue to receive TRIM Grants in the future, helping to ensure the trees putting down roots in the 24:1 now continue to show up on maps of the community forest for many years to come.
A request for proposals to provide tree canopy assessment services under the TRIM Grant is open until Jan. 15, 2021. For more details, please visit https://beyondhousing.org/request-for-proposal-24-1-tree-canopy-assessment-services.