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City tree count is up, for now

“Lonely Stroll” Photo by: Brian Slagenweit

Trees line the streets in the downtown River Market area. Photo by: Brian Slagenweit

A recent tree inventory of city-owned property shows Kansas City, MO has 8,248 more trees on city-owned property than in 2001.

Despite tree losses from disease, construction, redevelopment, attrition and storm damage over the past 14 years, the city has increased its tree canopy to 135,500 trees in public areas like parks, boulevards and streetscapes – according to a tree inventory by the Kansas City Parks Forestry Division.

However, the invasive attack of the emerald ash borer is of particular concern to city foresters. Of the 20,000 ash trees on city property, the city forestry staff has treated 1,408 that are in its ash tree protection program. A Mid-America Regional Council survey estimates the nine-county Kansas City region has more than 6-million ash trees at risk, and most of them are on private property.

“”The emerald ash borer is going to be financially and environmentally devastating to our area,” said Kevin LaPointe, an urban forester with the city of Kansas City, MO. “Homeowners need to be getting their trees evaluated and treated now.”

To dispose of the infected ash trees, the city has contracted with Missouri Organic Recycling, a local company that is USDA certified on proper disposal to reduce the risk of spreading the borer. To handle the larger affected ash trees, owners of Missouri Organic joined forces with a local woodworker to create Urban Lumber Company, a local sawmill that opened a year ago to sell a variety of local lumber, including ash.

For more information on city tree programs, go to To schedule a neighborhood presentation on the emerald ash borer and what property owners can do to protect their trees, contact LaPointe at 816-513-7776. To reach Missouri Organic Recycling, go to; for Urban Lumber Co., go to


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