2020 Annual Report
2020 Annual Report Monday, February 1, 2021
Author(s): Ben Bohall
Thank you to our partners for all their support as we tackle the daunting challenges facing trees and forests. We are making excellent progress—the successes are many and some are shared in this annual report. But much more needs to be done if we are to adequately protect trees and forests, the benefits they provide, and lives and property statewide. We look forward to working with you even more closely in 2021 to truly make a difference here in Nebraska.
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“To enrich the lives of all Nebraskans by protecting, restoring, and utilizing Nebraska’s tree and forest resources."
For more than a century, forestry has been at the foundation of Nebraskans’ work and mission. Recognition of the need to care for our existing trees and forests
has been and remains a consistent priority. However, It took a year as turbulent as 2020 to really put our resolve to the test.
Since March, Nebraska has been faced with an unprecedented degree of uncertainty. The COVID-19 pandemic threatened to undermine state budgets. Communications were complicated as we shifted to a virtual world which created new challenges. As the summer and fall progressed, we witnessed the most active wildfire season in recent history (since 2012). Volunteer firefighters from around the state drew on the resources and training to battle blazes and protect their communities; all while practicing cost-cutting measures and adhering to crucial public health measures. In addition, infestations of the emerald ash borer (EAB) hit a record four Nebraska counties—most recently, Hall County. Unparalleled municipal budget shortfalls made planning for EAB an even more difficult task.
In lieu of these obstacles, our partnerships and collaborations brought new levels of fiscal resourcefulness. Costs may have been cut, but we’ve expanded our capabilities. It’s come in no small part thanks to our staff. NFS employees shouldered the burden and developed innovative strategies to meet community needs through a myriad of ways, including:
- by forming and leading state agency partnerships to provide grants and training to support the safety and missions of Nebraska’s volunteer fire departments;
- thinning dense forests and removing hazardous “ladder fuels” to help Nebraska communities better withstand wildfires;
- developing a plan of action for municipalities hardest hit by the arrival of EAB and other invasive species;
- providing both formal and non-formal educators, families, and natural resource professionals with new virtual resources to inform Nebraskans about conservation
- concepts and issues; and
- assisting Nebraska communities and landowners to plant thousands of trees, cleaning the air and water, saving energy, and making our cities and towns and forests better places to live, work and play.
Thank you to our partners for all their support as we tackle these daunting challenges. We are making excellent progress—the successes are many and some are shared in this annual report. But much more needs to be done if we are to adequately protect trees and forests, the benefits they provide, and lives and property statewide. We look forward to working with you even more closely in 2021 to truly make a difference here in Nebraska.
The Nebraska Forest Service pursues a variety of traditional and nontraditional funding sources to facilitate the agency’s reach across Nebraska. Through grant funding and leveraging its role within the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, we are able to enrich the lives of Nebraskans by increasing the value, condition, and use of the state’s trees and forests.
Editors: Benjamin C. Bohall, Sandy Benson
Contributors: Rachel Anderson, Kyle Bogus, Aaron Clare, John Erixson, Graham Herbst, Jack Hilgert, Matt Holte, Christina Hoyt, Darla Huff, Steven Jara, Chrissy Land, Kyle Martens, Fred McCartney, Eric Moul, Justin Nickless, Heather Nobert, David Olson, Seth Petersen, Hanna Pinneo, Steve Rasmussen, Lew Sieber, Adam Smith, Jorden Smith, Laurie Stepanek, Denise Wally, Chelsie West, Lola Young