Jamestown considers tree inventory project

Eric Laber, Jamestown city forester, is planning to inventory trees on public lands in Jamestown and possibly Stutsman County.

trees in jamestown one
Jamestown has several different species of evergreen and deciduous trees across the city. John M. Steiner / The Sun

There are a lot of trees on the public properties of Jamestown, although nobody is sure just how many, according to Eric Laber, Jamestown city forester.

"The last inventory was in 2015," he said. "Somewhere around 10,000 to 12,000 trees on the boulevards and in the parks in Jamestown alone."

Laber is proposing a project to update that inventory this summer and possibly include the Stutsman County Park Board in the project to count all the trees in its parks.

"There is an economy of scale to do the project together," Laber said. "The same inventory program and person could do all the work."

The tree inventory would only include trees on public lands such as street boulevards and parks. It would not include trees on private property.


The project is not just a count of the trees but will include a breakdown by species.

"It will be interesting to see how many elm have been lost to Dutch elm disease," Laber said. "There are other trees that have been lost to the wind over the past few years too."

Previous inventories of trees in Jamestown have indicated about 45% were ash trees.

"That is too much of one species," Laber said.

Laber said the emerald ash borer, an invasive insect from Asia that could decimate the ash tree population, is in the region, with confirmed reports in South Dakota, Minnesota and Manitoba. The forestry department is part of a trap and identify program checking for the presence of the emerald ash borer and the Asian longhorned beetle that also can kill trees.

"We are working to lower the ash numbers in the area," Laber said. "When the emerald ash borer comes, we'll be ready for it."

Laber said ideally there should be no more than 5% of any one species of tree and no more than 25% of trees from the same family of species.

The tree inventory could also be used to provide statistics for grant applications for any future forestry programs in the region.


Plans for the tree inventory program are still being developed and the proposal will need the approval of the Jamestown City Council, Stutsman County Park Department and Jamestown Parks and Recreation.

"The part that got our attention is it would indicate if we are diversified enough," said Karl Bergh, Stutsman County park superintendent. "Having an inventory puts a value on our trees."

The value could be used to collect from insurance companies or individuals if a tree is damaged in an accident or by vandalism.

If approved, Laber would like to hire a summer employee to do the actual inventory work. The inventory could be spread over a couple of years, with updates in the following years.

"I've been working on it myself, but that has been slow," he said. "We are trying to get on the ball to get this going this year or next."

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