Parks and Urban Forestry

Helena has 30 parks that include playground equipment, tennis courts, basketball courts, community events, bike and pedestrian trails, dog parks, skate parks and bike jumps.  All of our parks and trails are beautifully maintained by Parks Maintenance staff and our Urban Forestry Division.  These features are designed and developed so that people of all ages, abilities and incomes can participate in the excellent recreational activities this wonderful city has to offer.

Helena’s Urban Forest Division is responsible for the care of over 10,000 trees located in the city’s street rights of way, public parks and other city-owned properties.  You can access the Helena Urban Forestry Plan, arboricultural standards, work permits, boulevard tree lists and boulevard public tree requirements here.

Requesting a New Tree

Requesting a New Tree

City of Helena residents and property owners may request the planting of a free boulevard tree by calling or emailing the Urban Forest Division.

Please include:

  • Your name
  • Potential address of planting location
  • Phone number or email

If the potential new tree location is appropriate you will be added to a planting list.  The program is first-come first-serve and being on the list does not guarantee a tree.  Division resources will dictate the number of available trees and when the planting will occur.  You many request a species, but it may not be possible to fulfill the request.  We ask that citizens water and care for the new tree properly, please reference the maintenance section on this page.

Planting Site Requirements:

  • Inside city limits.
  • Within city street right of way (boulevard).
  • This program excludes new developments and is not intended to assist in vegetative coverage code requirements.
  • Has a curb and sidewalk currently installed and landscaped to final grade.
  • Does not conflict with underground utilities.
  • Is at least 10 feet away from fire hydrants, driveways or utility poles.  Trees may be planted under power lines but must be a Class 1 species.  Please reference our species guide.
  • 20-30 feet from existing trees depending on the size.

The City of Helena also has a Memorial Tree Program available.

Planting Your Own Tree

Planting Your Own Tree

The City of Helena Urban Forest Department encourages the planning of trees in boulevards along public streets.  To plant a tree in a boulevard, property owners must:

  • Obtain a Tree and Boulevard Work Permit. Copies are also available in the Parks and Recreation Office. There is no charge for this permit.
  • Allow time for the City Arborist to review the type of tree and location.  This will ensure long term success, minimize potential conflicts and confirm the city-wide tree inventory is up to date.  If granted a planting permit you will be supplied with planting instructions and must follow up with our Urban Forest Division.  If the terms of the permit are not followed, issues must be resolved which may result in additional costs.
  • Properly plant the tree.  This includes watering, mulching, staking and tree guards.  Cost share assistance for planting trees is available.

Remember:  You must use an approved species.  You must plant at least 10 feet away from fire hydrants, driveways or utility poles.  Trees may be planted under power lines however must be a Class 1 Species.  Please reference our species guide. It is your responsibility to locate and avoid underground utilities.  For utility locate requests call: 1-800-424-5555 or 811. 

Tree Maintenance

Tree Maintenance

It is the city’s goal to preserve trees.  Trees will not be removed unless dead, dying, diseased or severely damaged, as determined by city tree maintenance staff.  It is natural for trees to drop their leaves, flowers and seeds due to winds and seasonal cycles.  By city ordinance, property owners are responsible for keeping the public areas adjacent to their properties free of debris and litter.  Street trees are the property of the City of Helena and destroying them is against the law.

Tree Pruning

The Urban Forest Departments routine pruning is responsible for keeping our city beautiful and for maintaining the health of our boulevard trees.  We operate on a cyclical rotational pruning schedule.  Rotational pruning is a proactive, cost effective approach that allows us to accomplish more annually and provides a greater community benefit.

Why we prune trees:

  • Public safety.
  • Clearance for signs, signals, street lights, pedestrians and traffic.
  • To protect property by removing limbs that may fall or are rubbing on buildings.
  • To increase tree health by removing branches that are unhealthy or dead, fixing growth defects and lowering wind resistance.

        Pruning Requests:

To stay on schedule with our cyclical pruning, we only dispatch crews to a pruning request if there is a legitimate threat to public safety or property:

  • Cracked or hanging branches.
  • Danger of a vehicle hitting a large branch.
  • Branches rubbing on a home.

We will not prune a boulevard tree to improve a view, for aesthetics, to provide more light for solar panels or if it blocks a commercial sign.  If the tree interferes with high voltage utility lines call Northwest Energy directly to request pruning: 888-467-2669.

If you think a boulevard tree needs pruning contact the Urban Forest Department for a consultation.  You many fill out the Boulevard Work Permit and hire an ISA Certified Arborist to work on boulevard trees adjacent to your property. 

 

Guidelines for Inquiries Relating to Trees

Concern:

 

Refer to:

Phone Number:

Tree emergency – fallen tree or branch blocking the street or sidewalk.

HPD for immediate response to secure the area. HPD will call HP&R for removal.

911

Witnessing malicious tree damage or removal.

HPD while in progress.  HPD will call HP&R.

911

Street tree trimming/planting/removal.

Helena Parks and Recreation – Urban Forestry

447-8426

Tree donations.

 

Helena Parks and Recreation – Urban Forestry

447-8426

Parks Maintenance.

Helena Parks and Recreation –

Parks Maintenance

447-8413

Tree located on private property protruding into street or sidewalk.

Roadway Code Enforcement

447-8443

Tree located on private property protruding onto adjacent private property.

Civil matter – Not city’s jurisdiction

 

Sidewalk lifting from tree roots.

 

Roadway Code Enforcement

447-8443

Tree interfering with high voltage lines.

Northwestern Energy

1-888-467-2663

Resource Links

Resource Links

L&C County MSU Extension - This office serves as an outreach function of Montana State University dedicated to improving the quality of people's lives by providing research-based knowledge to strengthen the social, economic and environmental well-being of families, communities and agricultural enterprises.

Emerald Ash Borer - This Website is part of a multinational effort to bring you the latest information about emerald ash borer.

MUCFA - Montana Urban Community Forestry Association

MT DNRC Urban and Community Forestry  - The goal of the Montana Urban & Community Forestry Program (UCF) is to assist with the development and maintenance of local urban forestry programs.

Arbor Day Foundation  - Founded in 1972, the centennial of the first Arbor Day observance in the 19th century, the Foundation has grown to become the largest nonprofit membership organization dedicated to planting trees, with over one million members, supporters, and valued partners.

Trees are Good  - provides the public with educational information about the benefits of trees and how to properly care for trees in the urban environment. The site contains resources from the International Society of Arboriculture and provides a collection of reliable tree care information provided by other industry organizations.

International Society of Arboriculture - Through research, technology, and education, the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) promotes the professional practice of arboriculture and fosters a greater worldwide awareness of the benefits of trees.

Growing Friends of Helena - is an urban tree-planting organization. Its purpose is to enrich the quality of life in the Helena, Montana area with extensive planting of suitable, attractive, diverse, and well-cared-for trees and shrubs

Parks Maps