LEWISTON – The Lewiston Auburn Community Forest Board hosted a U.S. Forest Service Review Team on Dec. 1. The visit was part of a five-year review of Maine’s Urban and Community Forest programs.

“Lewiston and Auburn were chosen to be part of the review because of the successful urban partnership that has developed in the Twin Cities to support community forestry,” said Michael DeBonis, Maine Forest Service.

Forestry board members led the team on a field tour to see four inner city sites that will be the focus of targeted tree planting in 2005. A Project Canopy Grant will fund the projects.

Board history and development were also discussed. The Auburn Parks and Recreation Department, the Lewiston Finance Department and both city arborists support board activities.

Projects since 2002 include development of a strategic plan, the Reading Tree Program in partnership with schools and libraries, shared cost tree planting, targeted tree planting on inner city sites and a recent workshop, “The Urban Forest in Your Back Yard.”

Lewiston and Auburn were recognized in 2004 as Tree Cities by the National Arbor Day Foundation.

U.S. Forest Service team members took special note of the strategic plan, the detail and organization of information for potential targeted planting sites and the Reading Tree Program.

Phillip Rodbell, urban and community forestry program leader, remarked that the Reading Tree Program was something unique in his 20 years of experience and a great way to engage youth in urban forestry.

“The Twin Cities have taken an innovative approach to their community forestry management that can serve as a model for other communities,” said DeBonis.

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