Community Forestry



Our Community Forest

FUNdamental to Lincoln’s “Green Infrastructure”

One of the hallmarks of Lincoln’s quality of life is its community forest, which is a prominent feature of its landscape. A canopy of thousands of trees is showcased in many shades of green in the summer and vivid reds, oranges and yellows of autumn.

It is also an important resource for the health and well-being of our environment and society. Trees lower heating and air conditioning costs, prevent erosion, provide wildlife habitats, reduce storm water runoff, increase property values and make our neighborhoods more livable.

Doing its part to maintain and preserve our priceless community forest, the Lincoln Parks and Recreation Department’s Community Forestry Section is responsible for all City-owned trees. It monitors the planting, pruning and removal of trees on public property, which includes street trees, park and golf course trees, and trees along our trails.

Contact Us:

3131 "O" St., Ste. 300
Lincoln, NE 68510

For general questions,
402-441-7847, Opt 0

Fast Forestry Facts

  • As a Tree City USA for more than 40 years, our green infrastructure is an integral part of our community. Since 1976, Lincoln has been nationally recognized as a Tree City USA by the National Arbor Day Foundation. The four criteria that must be met to qualify for this status include:
    • Annual Arbor Day Proclamation and Celebration
    • Legally constituted Tree Board
    • Ordinance which pertains to trees
    • At least $2 per resident spent on trees
  • Currently, the number of full-time personnel is 24
  • Forestry maintains nearly 130,000 public trees, the majority of which are in the street right-of-way
  • Since 1998, Forestry has trimmed over 126,000 trees, supervised the planting of over 9,300 trees and removed over 37,700 volunteer, diseased, dead, dying and/or hazardous trees
  • Of the 3,400 Tree City USA communities nationwide, Lincoln, Nebraska is currently the only one to have all of the following designations: Tree City USA, Growth, Utility

     and Campus!


Emerald Ash Borer



The destructive Emerald Ash Borer has been found in eastern Nebraska (6/8/16 News Release) and in Lincoln (8/22/18 News Release)

What is Emerald Ash Borer?

Emerald ash borer (EAB), Agrilus planipennis Fairmaire, is a small, metalic-green beetle that is about 1/2″ in length. The adult beetles nibble on ash foliage but cause little damage. The larvae (the immature stage) feed on the inner bark of ash trees, disrupting the tree’s ability to transport water and nutrients. Emerald ash borer probably arrived in the United States on solid wood packing material carried in cargo ships or airplanes originating in its native Asia.

Where has EAB been found?

Since the initial find in 2003, EAB has spread to 35 states and 5 Canadian provinces. It has been confirmed in all corners of Lincoln.  The destructive Emerald Ash Borer has been found in eastern Nebraska (6/8/16 News Release) and in a trap inside the Lincoln city limits (8/22/18 News Release) and finally during a tree removal in central Lincoln (4/23/19 News Release) .

Since its discovery, EAB has:

  • Killed hundreds of millions of ash trees in North America.
  • Caused regulatory agencies and the USDA to enforce quarantines and fines to prevent potentially infested ash trees, logs or hardwood firewood from moving out of areas where EAB occurs.
  • Cost municipalities, property owners, nursery operators and forest products industries hundreds of millions of dollars.

Where can I learn more about Emerald Ash Borer?

The Nebraska Forest Service website,, has extensive information regarding Emerald Ash Borer including: Ash tree identification Determining which ash trees are good candidates for treatment Emerald Ash Borer treatment options Suggested tree species to replace ash trees You may wish to review the list of online publications available under the Forest Health section on the Publications page.

You may wish to review the list of online publications available under the Forest Health section on the Publications page.

Fast Facts for Lincoln:

  • Presence of the Emerald Ash Borer is now confirmed in 27 states, including Nebraska.
  • ONLY affects ash at this time.
  • Affects all species of ash.
  • EAB is typically in an area 3-4 years before it is found and confirmed.
  • Affected ash trees die quickly, within 5-7 years of a confirmed infestation.
  • Trees killed by EAB act and react differently than other trees. The tree becomes unpredictable and can fail without warning.
  • Ash Mortality from EAB Percent mortality increases drastically within 7-12 years after EAB infestation occurs.
Ash Tree Identification:
  • Leaves may have 7-9 leaflets.
  • Bark has a diamond pattern.
  • Stems and twigs are stout.

Signs of EAB

  • Canopy (top of the tree) has die-back.
  • D-shaped exit holes present. These exit holes for these borers are 1/4-inch in diambeter or larger.
  • S-shaped galleries are present under the bark.
What can you do?

 If you are responsible for one or more ash trees:

  • If you suspect your ash has EAB, contact any of the agencies on this webpage.
  • Determine the health of the tree. Including diameter (breast height) and overall health.
  • If the ash is 14” diam. or smaller, it is recommeded to remove and replace the tree with another species.
  • If the ash is 14” diam. or larger, chemical treatments are available for homeowner application - OR - you may hire a professional pesticide applicator.
  • Some treatments need repeated annually.
  • Some treatments last for 2 years.
  • Once you begin treating your tree(s), you must continue to do so for the rest of its life*. *At least right now that’s the case.
  • Do NOT transport ash trees and products into or outside of Lancaster County


  • Nebraska Department of Agriculture: Julie Van Meter, State Entomologist, 402-471-2394
  • University of Nebraska- Extension, Lancaster County: Sarah Browning, Extension Educator, 402-441-7180
  • Nebraska Forest Service:  Eric Berg, Associate Forester, 402-782-1816
  • City of Lincoln - Lincoln Parks and Recreation:  402-441-7847, option 0
    Lorri Grueber, Community Outreach Forester, 402-441-9461


Adopt-an-Ash Program

What is the Adopt-an-Ash Program?

Emerald Ash Beetle Adopt an Ash Logo

Lincoln’s Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) Response and Recovery Plan focuses on proactively working with neighborhoods to remove and replace public ash trees along streets and on public lands. However, we recognize that some residents like to have options and be involved in determining the future of public trees near their home or business. In that spirit, we are providing an option for a no-cost permit for those who would like to “adopt” ash street trees that are adjacent to their property by arranging and paying for their ongoing treatment.Protect our trees, Love our trees logo. Lincoln Parks and Recreation

Scroll below for additional program information.

Download the Adopt-an-Ash (english) brochure.(PDF, 8MB)  Brochures in Spanish(PDF, 43MB)Arabic(PDF, 45MB) , and Vietnamese(PDF, 43MB)  are available for download.

Adopt-an-Ash Permit

A no-cost permit has been established to allow residents to adopt an ash street tree in the public right-of-way by providing ongoing chemical treatment to minimize damage by Emerald Ash Borer (EAB). In order to be effective, trees must be treated every two years on an ongoing basis. The optimal timing of trunk injections occurs after trees have leafed out in the spring but before EAB eggs have hatched, which is generally between mid-May and mid-June.

Street Tree Eligibility

There are certain criteria that must be met in order for Lincoln Parks and Recreation to approve the permit:

  1. The ash tree must be in the public right-of-way adjacent to the lot where you live or have a business.
  2. The diameter (width) of the tree when measured 4.5 feet above the ground must be at least 14”.
  3. The tree may not be under overhead wires.
  4. The tree must be in good condition with no significant wounds visible.
  5. Public trees may only be treated with a chemical trunk injection method. Please note that no other chemical applications are allowed for public trees. Other treatment methods that are not allowed include: soil drench, soil injection, trunk sprays or foliage sprays.
  6. All chemical treatments must be in accordance with state and federal regulations and applied only by a licensed applicator.

How to Apply

Complete the Adopt-an Ash Permit Application(PDF, 158KB). Include the Street Tree ID number for each tree to be treated by identifying one more trees using the Ash Tree Map program above, or by contacting the Community Forestry division at Parks and Recreation at 402-441-7847 (Ext. 0).

Return the application form by:

  1. Mailing it to the Lincoln Parks and Recreation Department at the address on the application
  2. Delivering it to the Parks and Recreation office in person, or
  3. Scanning the completed form and emailing it to 

If the application form is complete and accurate, it will be approved immediately. The Permit Approval form will be returned by the method received. After the street tree has been treated, you will need to return the bottom portion of the Permit Approval form with an invoice from the pesticide applicator to verify that the treatment is complete.

Once issued, the permit will be valid for two years. Upon expiration, you will need to request a new permit if you wish to continue treatment of the tree. If a new permit is not requested, the tree will be scheduled into a phased sequence for removal.

Download the Adopt-an Ash Permit Application(PDF, 158KB) PDF

FAQ's & Helpful Links

What is a public ash tree? A tree that in the right-of-way (typically between the street and sidewalk) and/or in pre-selected parks or golf courses.

Questions If you have any questions about EAB or the process for adopting a public ash street tree, please contact Community Forestry at 402-441-7847 and press 0.

For more information visit the Nebraska Forest Service EAB website:

Public Ash Trees

Public Ash Trees Inventory

Is your street tree an ash tree?

To find out if the street tree adjacent to your home or business is an ash tree, use the interactive map below. If you have questions or have trouble finding a location or tree on the map, contact the Community Forestry division at Parks and Recreation at 402-441-7847 (Ext. 0).

To locate the 7-digit ash tree ID (i.e. T005206), please complete the following steps:

  • Type the address of interest into the search bar, located in the upper-left corner. Alternatively, use a mouse to navigate the map.
  • Ash trees are identified by a green dot. Click on the green dot if there is one located at the address of interest. If the ash tree is already adopted, there will be an orange halo around the green dot.


  • Write down the tree ID number from the pop-up box. Enter this tree ID onto the Adopt-an-Ash Permit Application, which can be downloaded here.

Click here to view the map in full.

Please note that the Microsoft Edge browser does not fully support this application in full screen. Suggested browser applications include Google Chrome, Internet Explorer, Firefox or Safari.


Developer/Contractor Street Tree Information

This page is for developers and contractors needing documents related to street tree surety.

Important Information

  • Pursuant to Chapter 2.35(PDF, 17KB), Design Standards for Street Trees - Planning/Zoning and Section 12.20 of the Lincoln Municipal Code, street tree locations shall be marked by the City Arborist or designee prior to planting.
  • Utility locations shown are approximate. Contractors need to verify locations and depths to all utilities which exist on or near the project site. Prior to planting, the contractor must contact Diggers Hotline at 1-800-331-5666 to have utilities marked.
  • City ordinace requires that planted trees have a minimum trunk diameter of 1".
  • Landscaping shall be installed per Chapter 31 of City of Lincoln Standard Specifications for Municipal Construction.
  • Contact the Forestry Division for designated street trees as identified by the City's Master Street Tree Plan.

Contact: Tree Surety

City of Lincoln Parks & Recreation
Attn: Tree Surety
3131 "O" St., Suite 300
Lincoln, NE 68510


For general questions about street trees and to report an issue, contact or call (402) 441-7847 opt 0 during regular office hours.

Homeowners/Commercial Arborists

Requirements of Tree Services and Arborists Doing Work in Lincoln, NE

  • Any person for hire who does arborist tree work in the City of Lincoln, as specified in Lincoln Municipal Code 5.06, shall be required to have a valid and current arborist’s certificate/license in order to do such work.
  • A holder of an arborist’s certificate/license must annually renew such with the Lincoln Parks & Recreation Department.
  • Any applicant for an arborist’s certificate/license shall be required to pass a written practical test pertaining to arboriculture and tree work, administered by the Lincoln Parks & Recreation Department as specified in LMC 5.06 or provide proof thereof  they are a certified arborist with the Nebraska Arborists Association and/or the International Society of Arboriculture.
  • Before an arborist’s certificate/license is granted or renewed, applicants and certificate/license holders shall comply with the insurance requirements set forth in LMC 5.58.

How to Hire an Arborist

Hiring an arborist/tree service deserves careful consideration. A qualified arborist will do tree work properly and safely. An unqualified person may actually damage the tree. Unqualified persons may not have proper insurance, leaving a liability burden to the customer that could run into the thousands of dollars.

Download the most recent Arborist List.(PDF, 145KB)

Remember the following points when hiring or contracting with an arborist/tree service:

  • Lincoln requires that arborists be licensed in order to do tree work within city limits.
  • Check your telephone directory's yellow pages under "Tree Service" for a listing of those businesses which do tree work in your area. While anyone can list themselves in the phone book, a listing at least indicates some degree of permanence. Be cautious of any arborist that advertises "topping" as a service. "Topping" is not an approved tree maintenance practice under normal conditions and will seriously damage the tree. 
  • Ask if the arborist is certified. The International Society of Arboriculture maintains a list of ISA Certified Arborists throughout the entire country and you can search the database by state, city or even zip code. The Nebraska Arborists Association also maintains a list of Nebraska state certified arborists. Certification is not required but it does indicate that the arborist has a high degree of knowledge.
  • If the arborist you are considering is not certified, determine if he/she is a member of any professional organizations, such as the Nebraska Arborists Association, the International Society of Arboriculture or the National Arborists Association. Membership in these and other professional organizations does not guarantee quality, but does indicate professional commitment.
  • Ask for certificates of insurance, including proof of liability for personal and property damage and worker's compensation. Then, contact the insurance company to make sure the policy is current. Under some circumstances, you can be held financially responsible if an uninsured worker is hurt on your property or if the worker damages a neighbor's property.
  • Ask for local references. Take a look at some of the work, and if possible, talk with former clients. Experience, education and a good reputation are signs of a good arborist.
  • Don't rush into a decision just because you are promised a discount if you sign an agreement now. Be sure you understand what work is to be done for what amount of money. It is not generally a good idea to pay in full until the work is completed.
  • Most reputable tree care companies have all the work they can handle without going door to door. People who aren't competent arborists may solicit tree work at your door pointing out a condition that needs "immediate attention" or the "tree will die." If a tree is that close to death there is probably nothing that you or anyone else can do about it. These kinds of people are most active after storm disasters.
  • If possible, get more than one estimate.
  • A conscientious arborist will not use climbing spikes except when removing a tree. Climbing spikes open unnecessary wounds that could lead to decay.
  • Good tree work will not be inexpensive by any means. A good arborist must carry several kinds of insurance as well as pay for expensive and specialized equipment. Beware of estimates that fall well below the average. There may be hidden costs or the arborist may not be fully insured or trained.
  • A good pruning job is often one that cannot be noticed after the work has been done.

Street Tree Information and Voucher Program

Street Tree Planting Guidelines

  • Tree Diversity will be emphasized (i.e. no more than 10 % of same tree type).
  • Ash species will not be cost-shared by City for planting as street trees due to potential Emerald Ash Borer infestation and will not be allowed to be planted on city right of ways due to existing ash street tree population being greater than 25%.
  • Large type trees and small type trees will not be planted on same street because of variance in height, form and growing space requirements. Only exception is that small shade tolerant understory type trees (redbud, serviceberry) can be planted beneath large overstory shade trees, provided there is adequate room to accommodate the mature growth of understory tree.

Approved Street Tree List

Download the Approved Street Tree List(PDF, 174KB). Updated Jan. 2022

Permit to Plant in the City Right of Way

A no-fee permit to plant trees on city property needs to be obtained BEFORE planting is done. Shrubs, perennial and annual flowering plants, ornamental grasses, and ground covers can also be planted within the sidewalk space, or abutting a sidewalk, and do not require a permit. Those plantings shall be maintained so that they do not extend over curbs, sidewalks, driveways, or alleys and have a maximum height of no more than thirty inches above the height of the adjoining curb.

no-fee permit to plant any of these trees on CITY PROPERTY needs to be obtained BEFORE planting is done.

Street Tree Voucher Program

The Lincoln Parks and Recreation Department offers a cost-share assistance program, when funding is available, to property occupants in Lincoln who desire to purchase and plant a street tree(s) on the City right-of-way adjacent to their property. Interested property owners may contact Forestry at 441-7847 to provide the address of their property where they are interested in possibly having a street tree(s).

Benefits of the Street Tree Voucher Program:

  • Greater number of local tree nurseries from which to purchase and select street trees.
  • Greater street tree diversity/selection.
  • Planting in fall (best) or early spring can take advantage of possible free planting of street trees purchased at participating local tree nurseries.
  • Better information provided on proper tree planting/care.
  • Voucher recipients can match or exceed cost-share assistance to purchase and/or plant larger street trees which can increase property values and Lincoln’s community forest.


  1. Forestry staff will visit the address to determine there if adequate space to plant a street tree(s) in coordination with the Street Tree Master Plan, existing trees and anticipated mature size.
  2. Once approved, a no-fee street tree planting permit and voucher will be issued. The voucher will have a specified redeemable value for each street tree(s) identified. Voucher and permit are good for one year.
  3. Homeowner will contact and work with one of the participating tree nurseries to purchase/plant the approved street trees.
  4. Homeowner will care for the tree as directed from nursery.

Requirements of the Street Tree Voucher Program:

  • Voucher recipient must be property occupant living in Lincoln.
  • Voucher/planting permit must be signed by BOTH the recipient and participating nursery when redeemed and nursery must submit to Forestry when invoicing for payment.
  • Recipient must use the voucher to purchase a tree at least one inch (1”) in trunk diameter or larger trunk and must be well branched with fibrous root system.
  • Vouchers may NOT be combined to purchase one large street tree (i.e. if recipient has a voucher for two street trees then two street trees must be purchased).

At Risk Tree Removal and Replanting Program

The City of Lincoln received grant funding from the Nebraska Forest Service to help low- to moderate-income homeowners pay for the removal of dead or dying trees and plant new trees AT NO COST. For more information about the At-Risk Tree Removal and Replanting Program, and to see if you qualify, please go to

It is important applicants send the requested information explained on the program page with the completed application to avoid delays in processing your grant application.

Click to learn more and apply

 before and after

Before & After Photos

Community Forestry FAQ's


Who do I contact about street trees and other trees on public property?

  • Planting, Trimming, Maintenance: Community Forestry (402) 441-7847, weekdays from 8:00 am to 4:30 pm
  • Tree Related Emergencies: Lincoln Police Department, (402) 441-6000, after hours/weekends/holidays
  • Vandalism/Vehicular Accidents: Lincoln Police Department, (402) 441-6000
  • Power Lines: Lincoln Electric System (LES), (402) 467-7678

Can I request to have or not have street tree planed on the city right of way adjacent to my property?


Who is responsible for watering city street trees?

The owner of the property abutting the City right-of-way where the street trees are located is responsible for the care of the tree.

Can I remove a street tree from the City right-of-way?

Written permission from the Community Forestry team must be obtained prior to removal. Any expense incurred is the homeowners responsibility.

Can street trees only be pruned by the City?

No, individual property owners may prune street trees located on city property, provided ANSI A300 pruning standard are followed.

Are property owners charged for the work of planting, pruning and/or removal of a City street tree done by the Parks and Recreation Department?

Planting of City street trees is funded by a cost-share basis with the Street Tree Voucher Program. City tree pruning and removal done by Community Forestry is at no charge to the property owner.

How long should I keep mulching my street tree with woodchips?

Trees should be mulched for a minimum of 5 years from the time it is planted. Research has shown that mulching is the best thing a homeowner can do for the tree.

Does the City offer free mulch for private use?


Lincoln Parks and Recreation Department offers mulch at three locations that our staff replenish periodically with wood chips throughout the year.

Our forestry department has been working hard and their hard work not only benefits the city but you too! We have three locations with FREE MULCH. There are limited supplies, so this is a first-come first-serve basis. Once the much is gone- it’s gone.

The mulch may not be used for commercial purposes, and is available on a first-come, first-served basis. 

The locations for the free mulch are:

  • Fleming Fields Parking Lot, 31st Street and Leighton Avenue
  • Holmes Park Parking Lot,  70th Street and Normal Boulevard
  • Star City Shores Parking Lot, 27th Street and Nebraska Parkway (previously named Nebraska Highway 2