Great Falls celebrates Arbor Day, public forest

There are about 36,000 public trees in Great Falls and on Friday, two more were added to the inventory.

The Forestry Division of Great Falls Park and Recreation partnered with the local Rainbow Garden Club to plant two Ohio Buckeye trees in Grande Vista Park, a location selected by the garden club.

City forestry completes 7-year project of hazard tree trimming

The new trees are part of the forestry divisions regular tree replacement program and one was donated by the Rainbow Garden Club, according to Todd Seymanski, city forester.

The city maintains 13,331 trees in the Boulevard District, which includes a special assessment on property owners in that area that funds maintenance, trimming and replacement of those trees, as well as leaf pickup.

Some city assessments going up, but some are staying steady and one going down

In addition to the boulevard trees, the city maintains trees in parks, on trails and the municipal golf courses for a total of about 36,000 public trees.

Great Falls has a longstanding commitment to the urban forest, dating to the 1890s when Paris Gibson, the city’s founder, and other settlers planted thousands of trees. The city’s public forest is now valued at more than $77 million, according to the city.

The Ohio Buckeye trees planted on Friday can grow to about 30 feet tall and are on the city’s list of approved trees.

Great Falls has been a member of the Tree City USA program for 36 years, longer than any other Montana city in the program run by the Arbor Day Foundation.

The program was established in 1976 and now more than 3,400 communities have joined by meeting four core standards of 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, according to the Arbor Day Foundation.

According to the, homes that are landscaped with trees are worth 4 to 15 percent more and sell faster than homes without trees. Trees can also increase the property values of a whole neighborhood or business district.

Carefully positioned trees can reduce energy consumption by up to 25 percent for residential areas. The U.S. Department of Energy has developed models that indicate the property placement of three trees can save an average household $100-$250 in energy costs annually.