Enhancing Public Benefits from Forests with the Northern Rockies Tree School

With support from the USDA Forest Service’s Urban and Community Forestry program, the Wyoming State Forestry Division is achieving goals outlined in its Forest Action Plan.

Through a partnership with the Montana Department of Natural Resources, the Wyoming State Forestry Division established The Northern Rockies Tree School (NRTS).

The Northern Rockies Tree School (NRTS) offers a community forestry workshop dedicated to teaching the latest in tree care practices in order to protect the region’s clean air and water, wildlife habitat, recreational opportunities and economic benefit derived from trees. The annual workshop location alternates between northern Wyoming and southern Montana.

The school provides a venue for forestry professionals to teach and share experiences with their colleagues. On an annual basis, the school educates an average of 130 professionals about urban forestry practices. It also stimulates local economies by hosting the workshop in rural communities.

Workshop attendees represent municipalities, extension agents, conservation districts, state governments, tree care businesses, school districts/colleges, tree boards, counties and consulting firms.

Valuable camaraderie has been built between the two state forestry agencies and in turn has grown to reach other parts of the United States. Workshop speakers hail from a variety of backgrounds including university research, private consultants, invasive pest management and utility arboriculture.

In addition to the classes, the workshop offers several field sessions. In FY2014 the outdoor sessions focused on nursery stock evaluation, species selection, tree risk assessment, and GIS-based tree inventory mapping.

“Growing trees in the Rockies can be challenging; it’s nice to see this group coming together for the common good of urban and community forestry,” said Bill Crapser, State Forester.

An International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) Arborist Certification exam is offered as well as continuing certification units (CEUs) for current certified arborists. Those that are not yet certified are given the opportunity to learn more about the importance of professional certification. Over a dozen sponsors provide financial reports and represent their companies with educational booths.

This year the USDA Forest Service’s Urban and Community Forestry (UCF) program recognizes its 25th anniversary of enhancing public benefits from trees and forests. The success of the Northern Rockies Tree School has provided a higher degree of education to the state’s UCF program and has strengthened partnerships across state boundaries.

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