Forestry Grant Awarded to Improve Health of Parkland

The Anchorage Park Foundation has been awarded a $125,000 Urban, Community and Forestry grant by Region 10 State and Private Forestry for their project “Out with the bad trees, in with the good trees.”

Anchorage Park Foundation will allocate $100,000 of the grant to the Municipality of Anchorage Parks and Recreation Department to remove infected hazard trees, ensure public safety, protect facilities and property against damage from hazard trees, and revegetate areas with healthy trees. The Municipality of Anchorage Parks and Recreation Department manages approximately 11,000 acres of public park land; recent spruce beetle outbreaks have had a major impact on white spruce within its boundaries.

Municipality of Anchorage, Parks and Recreation Superintendent Steve Rafuse said “The Urban, Community and Forestry grant has provided the Parks and Recreation Department with important resources needed to address the recent spruce beetle infestation. With these funds, the Department will be able to improve forest health and public safety while reducing wildfire danger in Anchorage.” Parks and Recreation has identified thirteen key areas for removal of hazard trees to mitigate effects of the current outbreak. Crews led by the Parks and Recreation arborist will inspect spruce beetle infestation areas and remove infested trees and debris. Revegetation will include site preparation and native tree planting of established spruce seedlings and saplings.

Anchorage Park Foundation Executive Director Beth Nordlund said, “The grant dollars will not only address safety concerns about hazard trees in Anchorage parks, but the clearing and revegetation will make local parks more welcoming and communal spaces.” Anchorage Park Foundation will also use a portion of the money for local trails and other communication and education programs like Youth Employment in Parks.

Alaska Deputy Director of State and Private Forestry Michael Shephard praises the grant as an opportunity to assist with forest health restoration on Municipal park lands and help prevent spruce beetle infestations from moving to nearby private property. He added that keeping Anchorage’s forests healthy also helps reduce fire hazards. The grant money is being matched by an Arbor Day Foundation Grant and in-kind match by Municipality of Anchorage Parks and Recreation.

Work will begin this summer and continue through the fall 2021. Ongoing efforts will include monitoring and maintenance.