​Tree Talk

​Tree Talk

Friday, December 11, 2020

NRD district forester earns statewide arborist certification, promotes tree planting

There’s not much about trees in Nebraska that Kyle Yrkoski doesn’t know. Already well versed in the topic through work experience and a degree from the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture, the district forester at the Upper Big Blue NRD added to his resume with a recent certification through the Nebraska Arborists Association.

With this credential in hand, Yrkoski says he is ready to solve tree-related problems anyone in the district may have. “I can answer questions about what to plant and not plant, storm damage, pest identification and treatment, how to properly prune trees, you name it,” he said. While his recent arborist training was complicated by the pandemic, Yrkoski says it was worth the extra effort. “There was a lot I already knew, but it was a good review and there was some new info, too,” he said, noting the emphasis on soil biology and urban forestry.

“The sky’s the limit with urban tree planting,” Yrkoski said. He encourages communities to plant trees on public lands, such as a windbreak around a park or a living snow fence along a main road. “There are so many benefits to planting trees.”

Yrkoski doesn’t take a ‘one-size fits all’ approach to tree planting projects. “There are a lot of options and situations to consider,” he said. “I talk to property owners to understand their goals and objectives. I also survey the land and complete a tree inventory to know what we’re dealing with.” Landowners might consider adding trees for a variety of reasons, from improving their hunting grounds (more trees mean more game) to protecting their crops, livestock, or home.

There is a lack of certified arborists in Nebraska outside of the major metro areas. Yrkoski will be the only one in this area and is pleased to be bringing a high level of expertise to underserved rural areas. This certification will benefit district residents as Yrkoski will be a local resource for all tree related concerns.

Yrkoski joined the Upper Big Blue NRD in 2015 as a water technician and moved into his current role in spring 2020. A lifelong Nebraskan with roots in agriculture, Yrkoski has a passion for conservation through tree planting. His family has raised cattle and farmed row crops in the Osceola area since the 1800s and has always been dedicated to planting trees and preserving wildlife areas. He also has forestry experience from his previous position with the Upper Loup NRD in Thedford, where he was responsible for designing windbreaks and installing more than 200,000 trees and shrubs.

In his first year in the forestry position at the Upper Big Blue NRD, Yrkoski has completed quite a few planting plans, working with area landowners to improve their property through trees. Yrkoski suggests that landowners or communities interested in adding trees in spring 2021 call him as soon as possible to start creating a plan and get trees ordered early to ensure best selection.

For those with existing windbreaks or wildlife plantings, Yrkoski suggests landowners inspect the trees and see if any need to be removed and replaced. These types of plantings require some maintenance for best results in the long term. Yrkoski is available to visit sites and make recommendations for improvement to existing tree projects, as well as plan for new ones. “Well maintained trees add a lot of value to property,” he said.

For tree resources and programs offered through the NRD, online tree orders, or to contact Kyle, visit www.upperbigblue.org/trees.