Kansas Forest upgrades arboretum accreditation

The Kansas Forest Service maintains a unique, five-acre “backyard” which serves as a highly acclaimed resource to homeowners and conservationists alike, and the public is invited to celebrate its anniversary later this month.

The KFS Demonstration Arboretum and Honor Grove has achieved the status of a Level II Accreditation by The ArbNet Arboretum Accreditation Program and The Morton Arboretum. The accreditation is awarded for achieving particular standards of professional practices deemed important for arboreta and botanic gardens.

The ArbNet Arboretum Accreditation Program is the only global initiative to officially recognize arboreta at various levels of development, capacity and professionalism.

The KFS arboretum is also accredited in the Morton Register of Arboreta, a database of the world’s arboreta and gardens dedicated to woody plants.

“We’re delighted that the arboretum and Honor Grove has again been recognized by the Morton Arboretum’s network,” said Kim Bomberger, community forester with the KFS.

“We’ve worked hard to create a place for people to learn more about trees and shrubs suitable for planting in Kansas and the Great Plains. The ArbNet program is a good fit with the Kansas Forest Service’s interests of planting, studying, and encouraging the conservation of trees.”

The KFS will welcome the public to visit the arboretum for its 131st anniversary and Arbor Day celebration from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Monday, April 23, at 2610 Claflin Road in Manhattan.

Activities will include guided tree walks at 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m., seedling giveaway, a tree planting at 12:30 p.m., a sawmill and tree climbing demonstration, and a Smokey Bear meet-and-greet. Mr. K’s food truck will be on site with food available for purchase. In case of inclement weather, the event will be postponed to April 25.

The roots of the arboretum literally date back to the late 1930s. On the property which would become the future home of the KFS in Manhattan, Donald Duncan planted hundreds of ponderosa pines as part of an U.S. Department of Agriculture-Agriculture Research Service provenance study. He used seeds he had collected from all over the pine’s native range, from southern Canada to Mexico.

The Honor Grove has borne silent witness to Kansas forestry, horticulture and natural-resource professionals since the late 1970s.

Landscaped-sized trees have been planted at the KFS state office to honor 26 foresters and staff members who have retired or died while in service to the agency.

Those who are memorialized in the Honor Grove collectively invested 720 years in service to Kansas forestry.

Among the species found in the Honor Grove are:

◼ oak

◼ pine

◼ pecan

◼ male Osage-orange

◼ eastern redbud

◼ Kentucky coffeetree

◼ ginkgo

◼ black walnut

The loss of several aging pines has prompted the planting of new ponderosa pines and other, less common and rare species of trees.

Some of the new species are not typically found in Great Plains communities or homesteads, but several species showcased are durable options.

The property is home to 138 species in the evergreen and deciduous tree collections, a shrub collection, and several rare and unusual specimens.

Last year, the arboretum attained Level I status, which entails having as many as 100 species of labeled trees and shrubs, among other criteria. The KFS arboretum’s newly attained Level II status requires between 100 and 500 species.

The ArbNet Arboretum Accreditation Program is sponsored and coordinated by The Morton Arboretum in Lisle, Illinois, in cooperation with American Public Gardens Association and Botanic Gardens Conservation International.