The City Forestry Program began in 1941 with the appointment of the first city arborist. World War II came and operations came to a standstill. In 1946 the maintenance headquarters was established at Ellis Park. In 1947 the first chain saw and an arch truck was purchased. Things were moving along pretty smoothly until 1963 when Dutch Elm Disease was first discovered in the city. In 1968 there were 28 full time employees, mostly removing diseased Elm trees. In 1971, the Forestry Program removed 5000 dead or diseased trees. As the disease ran its course the Forestry Program began replanting. In 1974, 1500 trees were planted.
Today the Cedar Rapids Forestry Program maintains approximately 65,000 public trees within the borders of Cedar Rapids. Included are:
- 4,000 acres of parks containing 10,000 trees
- 1,000 acres of golf courses containing 5,000 trees
- 618 Linear Miles of City right-of-way with an estimated 50,000 trees
To accomplish this 12 full time employees carry out tree work on a year around basis. The program has 17 vehicles, including 3 boom trucks, a log loader, 2 dump trucks, 2 tree spades, and 2 stump grinders.
In spring 2011, 352 trees were planted along city streets. In fall 2011, 441 additional trees were planted, being partially funded by the Trees Please 2011 Grant the City received.
Cedar Rapids has been recognized as a Tree City USA City for 33 consecutive years!