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Tree diversity vital to canopy conservation

Post Date:10/20/2016 10:49 AM

MANHATTAN, Kan. – Planting a variety of trees in any particular area will make a big difference if one species is especially vulnerable to a pest or disease, as is currently the case with ash trees in Kansas and other states.

With that in mind, the Kansas Forest Service continues its partnership with Heartland Tree Alliance, the Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kansas, Prairie Village, Kansas, K-State Research and Extension, Westar Energy Green Team, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service to plant diverse species of trees at three more public parks in Kansas City.

Last October, three Kansas City planting projects increased the tree diversity at Schlagle Library and Waterway Park in Kansas City, Kansas, and Windsor Park in Prairie Village, Kansas. This fall, three more planting projects occurred at Wyandotte County Park in Bonner Springs, Stony Point Park, in Kansas City, and Porter Park, in Prairie Village. In total, seventeen new species will be introduced at these sites.

“Heartland Tree Alliance is honored to be supported by a strong partnership with municipalities and government agencies like the Kansas Forest Service,” said Sarah Crowder, Heartland Tree Alliance program manager. “Tree diversity is an important message for residents to consider when choosing a tree species for planting this fall or next spring.”

The projects are designed to encourage the planting of different kinds of trees by showing the public examples of what these trees look like. Signage at each newly-planted tree provides the common and scientific names, with its mature height and spread.

“At Wyandotte County Park, the planting project will enhance the highly-used and unique disc golf course,” said Kim Bomberger, district community forester with the Kansas Forest Service. “It’s one of the only courses in the nation that gives players a fairway experience with trees.”

In addition to the tree planting events, the Kansas Forest Service is working with 12 cities in the Kansas City metro area to place nearly 50 tree signs on trees in parks and other public places. The posters spread the message of the benefits of tree diversity.

Planting only one species of tree in a community can be disastrous when disease hits. "Tree diversity is so important in the Kansas City metro,” Crowder said. “It's estimated that we have around 6 million ash (trees) that have the potential to be lost to emerald ash borer. As we deal with this catastrophic loss, replanting is critical, and making sure we replant with many different kinds of tree species will put us on the right path for a healthy and sustainable urban forest."

Emerald ash borer populations are exploding in the quarantine zone, with staff of several cities stating that the insect is becoming easy to detect. According to the Kansas Department of Agriculture, the emerald ash borer was first detected in Wyandotte County, Kansas in 2012, and has now been found in Douglas, Jefferson, Johnson, Leavenworth, and as of September 2016, Atchison County. This wood-boring insect attacks and kills all species of North American ash, and can be especially ruinous where a monoculture of ash has been planted in towns and landscapes. Several ash trees that were alive last fall did not leaf out this spring.

While insects and disease can devastate a population of trees comprised on one species, severe storm events and drought can also be a threat. While rainfall has been more abundant this summer, lingering effects of past drought and climatic stressors are apparent to foresters. Some large trees have died in the last several years, leaving large voids in community canopies.

The Kansas Forest Service recommends choosing a wide array of tree species for planting in your home landscape and community. To learn which trees will work best in your area, visit our website, and click on “Resources” then “Community Forestry.” The KFS soils map is also a resource to discover which species will do well in your area, and can be found at: To see locations of where you can view tree specimens, see the KFS arboretum map at:


K-State Research and Extension is a short name for the Kansas State University Agricultural Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension Service, a program designed to generate and distribute useful knowledge for the well-being of Kansans. Supported by county, state, federal and private funds, the program has county Extension offices, experiment fields, area Extension offices and regional research centers statewide. Its headquarters is on the K-State campus, Manhattan.


Story by:
Jennifer Williams
Kansas Forest Service

For more information:

Kim Bomberger – or 785.532.3315

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