SMA Liaison David Jahn Iowa

David Jahn

State Coordinators: 

Emma Hanigan, Urban Forestry Coordinator

(515) 249-1732

DNR Eliminates Forestry Bureau, Other Positions to Offset Budget Cut

“The Iowa Department of Natural Resources has eliminated its Bureau of Forestry and a few other DNR jobs in response to a state budget cut.

Lawmakers approved a $1.2 million cut to the department earlier this year. 

DNR spokesman Alex Murphy says the forestry bureau is only losing its chief. He says the district foresters and other employees will remain at the department. 

"We've moved these employees under different areas and actually eliminated the bureau itself, although all the functions of the bureau exist, just in different bureaus or divisions," Murphy says.

He says dissolving the forestry bureau will save the DNR about $277,000. 

In addition to the forestry bureau chief being terminated, seven other DNR employees were laid off. One was the state geologist. Murphy says the changes will not affect services.”

 Iowa Urban Tree Council deliberates on elimination of Forestry Bureau at July 18, 2017 quarterly meeting

There is not yet enough information about the transition to know how this will impact grants. There will be a budget restructuring meeting coming up soon, so stay tuned for info from that. The majority of the DNR budget comes from federal money, not state, so focusing on the federal government will be important. Sending any emails, tweets, or letters to federal representatives will be better timed, as the state legislature is not in session. There was some discussion in regards to “How do you demonstrate that you’re doing your best, but that some services will suffer?” Also, how does DNR staff keep things running well without taking on too many additional tasks and either burning out or developing a new normal where this shake-up is not perceived as the ideal situation. The budget was the expressed reason for this reorganization. Iowa code does not specify that a forestry bureau must exist, as it does for bureaus and departments such as forest health or fisheries. We should look at other states and see who else is transitioning this way, who else has avoided it, etc. The IUTC is sending a letter to Governor Reynolds to express displeasure with this DNR action.

DNR Staff Updates:

Members of the Iowa Urban Tree Council (IUTC) met Jeff Goerndt, the new DNR State Forester. His prior work in the DNR included state land work. Jeff told us that Paul’s position had been eliminated, state forests have been transferred under State Parks Bureau, and field staff have been transferred under wildlife supervisors. Professional foresters still exist and their programs are also intact and functioning. There is a lot of concern with the Federal budget, but two programs that were previously zeroed have gotten funding reallocated (Urban and Community Forestry, and Forestry Legacy). The Senate appropriations committee is meeting soon, so it is important for citizens to let those people know what we want and need (funding for trees!). New nursery pricing has been finalized and a new online ordering system will be live in fall. Quantity requirements will decrease to allow more folks to order.

People you should know: 

US Forest Service:               Jill Johnson            (651) 649-5253

Iowa State University:         Tom Harrington    (515) 294-0582

                                                 Jeff Iles                  (515) 294-3718

                                                Jesse Randall         (515) 294-3221

                                                Mark Shour           (515) 294-5963

Iowa DNR                               Paul Tauke             (515) 725-8450

                                                Emma Hanigan      (515) 249-1732  

Tivon Feeley         (515) 725-8453

Iowa Agriculture                  Robin Pruisner     (515) 725-1470

                                                Mike Kintner         (515) 745-1470   


Coming events in State:

ISA Chapter Recognition:   On January 1, 2017, the ISA Midwestern Chapter (MW-ISA) and the Iowa Arborist Association (IAA) aligned through mutual agreement, and completed a transition plan, so that IAA could become an ISA Associate Organization (AO).

National events of interest:

SMA New Member Incentive: Get one year of the SMA magazine City Trees FREE on a trial basis.  Please join your peers in this international community of practice.  Click here to sign up!

2017 ISA Annual International Conference and Trade Show

28 July – 2 August 2017 - Washington, DC


2017 Society of Municipal Arborists International Urban Forestry Conference

November 13-14 2017 - Tulsa, OK


Partners in Community Forestry Conference

November 15-16, 2017      Tulsa, OK


2017 American Society of Consulting Arborists Annual Conference

November 29 – December 2, 2017 – Stevenson, WA 


Links of Interest

Iowa DNR Grants        

IA State Forestry Nursery

ISU Forestry Extension

Trees Forever             


I am a proud member of the Society of Municipal Arborists and the Iowa Urban Tree Council. I received the 2015 Trees Forever ‘Advocacy Award’ for dedication to Des Moines TreeKeepers (citizen volunteer and advocacy program) and for empowering others to speak for our trees. I’ve spent 12 years in professional urban forestry as a City Forester, 6 in Pittsburgh, PA, and 6 in Des Moines, IA. Prior to that I spent 15 years managing municipal and county landscapes in SW Florida. I am an ISA Municipal Specialist, with a TRAQ credential. I am a Registered Consulting Arborist (RCA #425) with the American Society of Consulting Arborists.