Hope for the future: Barron’s storm story

By Brad Johnson, DNR regional urban forestry coordinator, Spooner, BradleyDJohnson@wisconsin.gov, 715-410-8299

Within a short period of time, from the Jamie Closs tragedy to the violent wind storm of July 2019, the people of Barron, Wisconsin have had to endure unprecedented hardship. They are looking forward to better days ahead. Hope for the future is just what Barron is experiencing as they clean up from the storm and rebuild their urban tree resource. The DNR Urban Forestry team has contributed to these efforts with their expertise and financial support; in the past year, Barron has received a total of $55,000 in DNR Urban Forestry grants.

Barron inventoried all of its public trees in May 2019 with financial help from the DNR, who paid for a consultant as part of a pilot program. Unfortunately, a violent straight-line windstorm damaged and blew down 25% of Barron’s public trees on July 19, 2019.  Barron again had to pick itself up in the face of adversity and with the help of additional DNR funding, reinventoried its trees and wrote a plan of attack on how to rebuild its decimated urban tree canopy.

The updated tree inventory is a crucial component of Barron’s recovery plan. According to Liz Jacobson, Barron City Manager, “Accomplishing a tree inventory is helping us know where we are at, and where we need to go.”

Kelly Tuttle, from Bluestem Forestry Consulting, inventoried the trees both before and after the storm, and wrote the forest management plan. Kelly noted, “In addition to removing the damaged trees, there is a monumental amount of work that still needs to be done, mostly tree planting and pruning damaged limbs, to prevent them from falling in the next storm.” 

Now with the help of an additional $50,000 DNR Urban Forestry (UF) Catastrophic Storm Grant, as well as a $5000 DNR UF Startup Grant, Barron is rising from the ashes towards hope, so to speak. They were thrilled to learn that the state legislature recently approved a request to fully fund their $50,000 storm grant request. Along with numerous other communities, Barron was initially awarded only $8,428.19 due to the unprecedented number of storm grant applications received (as described in last month’s article, “Catastrophic aid request approved for communities”). City Manager Jacobson explains, “Increasing our catastrophic storm grant from approximately $8,000 to $50,000 is huge for the city to rebuild after the storm.” 

Barron is using this new urban forest inventory, plan and grants to rebuild its decimated public tree resource.  They are now removing blown down trees, repairing damaged trees and replanting dozens of trees to replace those that were lost.  These trees are destined to become Barron’s living hope for the future.

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