SPEARFISH, SD – The City of Spearfish will have better data about its urban forest in terms of diversity, planting density, condition, etc., thanks to winning $5,000 worth of software to continue the ongoing tree inventory project.
“With the data, we can better manage the City’s urban forest,” Tyler Ehnes, Parks and Recreation director, said, describing that the win came after he took part in a nationwide survey about communities’ urban forests.
Each survey participant was placed in the drawing to win a free TreePlotter software subscription through PlanIT Geo, and Spearfish was drawn as the winner. “Though they do not have an urban forestry department, their Parks and Recreation Department has the expertise and a passion for improving their community forest,” PlanIt Geo’s website states. It goes on to describe how in 2021, the City used a state grant to fund a student intern to inventory public trees using the TreePlotter Inventory tool. “The inventory is almost complete and has already provided some helpful insights. By viewing all of the mapped public trees, the Parks and Rec Department has identified areas of sparse canopy as well as a couple [of] overplanted spots,” the website states.
Parks and Recreation Director Ehnes added that another important insight from the inventory is how approximately 25 percent of the City’s urban forest is currently green ash. Emerald Ash Borer (EAB), a wood-boring beetle responsible for the destruction of millions of ash trees in the United States, has been confirmed in as close a location as Sioux Falls, and the City is preparing for the likelihood of the pest’s arrival in Spearfish, having adopted an Emerald Ash Borer Action Plan in 2019.
“This survey was completed as part of our Emerald Ash Borer Action Plan,” Parks and Recreation Director Ehnes said, explaining that the City is already replacing ash trees in poor condition with an array of diverse tree species, with the goal of reducing the ash population before EAB arrives. “This helps spread the cost of replanting and removal of trees over a greater time period and improves the diversity of our urban forest.”
The City’s EAB Action Plan is available here, and PlanIT Geo’s urban forestry survey results are available here.