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North Park tree

A large branch of a cottonwood tree that fell in North Park is surrounded by temporary fencing Tuesday.

City crews spent all of Monday and part of Tuesday canvassing Billings' parks to inventory damage done to trees and property by Sunday's storm.

Most parks had been impacted in some way and the damage wasn't as bad as they had expected.

"We fared fairly well," said city forester Steve McConnell. 

Park crews discovered a number of broken branches and a handful of downed trees across 14 parks that spanned the city — all the way from Riverfront along the Yellowstone to Hawthorne in the Heights to Lillis on the West End. 

Among the trees wrecked by the storm were a pair of crab apples, a couple Austrian pines, a Siberian Elm and silver maple and five cottonwoods. 

In all, 14 trees were destroyed or uprooted and will have to be replaced, a small fraction of the 10,000 trees across city parks and public spaces, McConnell said. 

"So, not too bad," he said. 

Cleanup efforts were handled by park staff and because the damage was relatively small it didn't require hiring any additional help, he said. 

The 14 downed trees will be replaced and that will carry a cost, he said. But the parks department has a contingency for that. The city budgets for replacement trees each year and uses programs like Trash for Trees to pay for it. 

Recycling bins in city parks collect newspapers and aluminium under Trash for Trees. The parks department then sells that recyclable material and uses the proceeds to buy new trees. 

"It's good for like 10 trees a year," McConnell said. 

The parks department also has a kind of adopt-a-tree program. Billings residents who want to get rid of a tree from their property can donate it to the city. If the tree is the right size and in good health, the city will come and transplant it to a park or other public location. 

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Business Reporter

Business Reporter for the Billings Gazette.