Nonprofit stepping in to help as St. Louis Forestry Department operates with just half their staff

Published: Jul. 17, 2023 at 10:15 PM CDT
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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) - The seemingly nonstop summer storms are leading to extra work for an already low staffed St. Louis Forestry Department and frustration builds as fallen trees remain on city sidewalks.

A request to St. Louis Citizen Service Bureau reads, “Tree in the tree lawn at Alfred and Connecticut has been down since storms on July 2.” The tree is blocking the sidewalk and leaning against an apartment building.

According to Nick Dunne, a city spokesperson, there have been 150 requests to CSB for tree inspection since June 30. Dunne says Forestry is operating with a staff of 14 when they are budgeted for 28, forcing them to prioritize tree removal in term of greatest safety concerns. Trees blocking streets or posing a danger will be removed first.

This is not a new problem. For years, News4 has covered the short staffing and long backlog of trees needed attention in the City of St. Louis. It’s why STL Tree LC got started.

“Instead of complaining, we called forestry and said how can we help,” said Erin Godwin, a volunteer with the nonprofit STL Tree LC. “There’s a lot of things like basic tree care, basic routine stuff that is just not on City forestry radar. They have to focus on the hazard trees, the big dead trees that could fall and kill someone or cause property damage.”

Every second Saturday STL TreeLC hosts a pruning blitz to clean up unruly city trees. They do what’s called clearance pruning. Triming trees on public property to allow for easier walking on sidewalks and easier access for people to get in their cars.

“There’s trees that have gotten so big that its started to block the sidewalk and it becomes this obstruction of what is behind it? It starts to feel ominous,” said Godwin.

For big tree problems, your first step is St. Louis Citizen Service Bureau. The city tells News4 they do have a contract with an out of state company to help with the backlog.

Godwin says they hope to help make the more than 100,000 city trees a little healthier and a little safer.

To learn more or to volunteer:

St. Louis City is hiring for Forestry workers, find job openings here: