In April, the South Dakota Department of Agriculture recertified Pierre as a Tree City USA.
This marked the 36th year Pierre has been named a Tree City USA by the Arbor Day Foundation. To be recognized as such, a community must demonstrate sound urban forestry practices that include having an Arbor Board and tree-maintenance ordinances.
According to city of Pierre’s Brooke Bohnenkamp, in May 2018, the city of Pierre announced it was partnering with Girl Scout Troop 40080 to establish a community orchard. In Sept. 2018, the fruit tree orchard opened at 1201 E. Sully Avenue. It takes between two and six years for the trees to produce fruit. Once the orchard starts producing, community members are invited to harvest fruit from the orchard for the food pantry, community meals, or personal use.
The orchard idea was originally in honor of Arbor Day. The city provided the land, and the Girl Scouts will maintain the property. Mayor Harding dedicated the Community Orchard on May 5. During the dedication ceremony, the South Dakota Department of Agriculture recertified the city of Pierre as a Tree City USA. Dr. John Ball from South Dakota State University provided a public and free tree care seminar.
In September 2018, residents and other guests toured the new Community Orchard. Guided tours of the project showed off the various species of planted fruit trees. To keep visiting youngsters involved, staff from Rawlins Library provided story time for the kids. The event was sponsored by the city of Pierre Arbor Board, Rawlins Municipal Library, and the Pierre Community Orchard Project.
The orchard is situated on 6,400 square feet of city-owned land and features 22 fruit trees These trees include pear, peach, plum, apple and cherry. Once the orchard is fruitful, community members will be invited to harvest the fruit for the local food pantry, community meals, and personal use.
In April 2019, again timed in recognition of Arbor Day, the city of Pierre added a tree to Mayors’ Grove in Hipple Park just west of the Discovery Center. The Mayors’ Grove is home to a tree for each person elected mayor of Pierre. Mayor Steve Harding selected a seedless cottonwood for the grove. With help from the city’s Arbor Board, Harding planted the new cottonwood in a public ceremony. “Many of our massive and stately cottonwoods along the waterfront were damaged during the 2011 flood,” said Harding. “I’m using this planting as an opportunity to replace a cottonwood in our park system.”
In addition to the April 2019 tree planting event, Dr. John Ball gave another public tree-care seminar. This seminar focused on Emerald Ash Borer mitigation. Art Smith, City Arbor Board Chairman, also spoke on the city’s Emerald Ash Borer management plan. All the events were open and free to the public. The City’s Arbor Board is a volunteer group appointed by the mayor to advise on and lead tree care efforts in the city of Pierre. Current members are Tony Dorschner, Will Hanson, Rollie Isaacson, Adam Kulesa, Rachel Ormseth, Art Smith, and Mark Smith.
On July 8 the city’s parks department installed the flagpole and Tree City USA Arbor Day Foundation flag at the Community Orchard site.