Billings City Arborist Honored

On March 15th, the Montana Urban and Community Forestry Association (MUCFA) recognized Billings City Arborist Steve Riley as Montana’s “Outstanding Urban Forestry Leader” of 2017.  Steve has lead Billings through its first complete pruning cycle of 9,000 plus park trees.  A pruning cycle means all small trees are pruned every three years and all large trees are pruned every seven years.

Steve has also lead tree planting efforts for Billings parks for many years.  Billings plants roughly 200 trees per year in its parks.  Steve has expanded Billings tree pallete or the diversity of trees that are growing in Billings.  This diversity of tree species will better prepare Billings for when an insect or disease vector finds a certain tree species, limiting the number of any one species of tree that could be attacked.  Steve also developed a gravel bed nursery as a way to develop better quality trees to be planted in city parks saving the tax payers money.

Steve completed a good deal of this work without leadership as the city spent over two years searching for a City Forester.  Steve is quiet and unassuming but passionate about the work he does.

MUCFA is made up of city foresters, tree board members, tree companies, and citizens from around Montana that are committed to the trees in Montana communities.  To learn more about trees and what is happening in Montana’s urban forests please visit or follow MUCFA on Facebook.


2020 Tree City USA

Tree City USA sign
Billings has been a Tree City USA for 34 years


2020 was Billings 36th year as a Tree City USA

To be recognized as a Tree City USA a community must meet 4 requirements:

1. Have a Tree Board or Department to manage City trees

2. Have an Ordinance addressing trees in the community

3. Have a program with a Budget of at least $2/capita

4. Celebrate Arbor Day each year

About the ARBOR DAY FOUNDATION:  Founded in 1972, the Arbor Day Foundation has grown to become the largest nonprofit membership organization dedicated to planting trees, with more than one million members, supporters, and valued partners. During the last 45 years, more than 250 million Arbor Day Foundation trees have been planted in neighborhoods, communities, cities and forests throughout the world.

For more information on the Tree City USA Program visit the Arbor Day Foundation


2016 National Arbor Day Celebration Award

Billings was recognized as having THE outstanding Arbor Day celebration nationwide.  The award is in honor of the city’s efforts to engage students in learning about trees and the environment and the importance of everything working in unison for a healthier, greener planet.  Several Parks, Recreation and Public Lands staff members were honored with a trip to Lied Lodge, the home of Arbor Day, in Nebraska City, Nebraska, to receive this award.  For a quick synopsis, the Billings Arbor Day Celebration was attended by 500 4th grade students from schools across Billings, accompanied by 150 volunteers and served by 22 separate environmental educational stations.  The event was held at North Park and during the course of the day new trees were planted, older trees were pruned, and several Park improvement projects were completed. Children learned about trees, tree planting, the weather, insects, wildlife, water pollution, invasive weeds and pests and much, much more.


2013 Montana Tree City of the Year

Billings was recognized as the 2013 Montana Tree City of the Year in the large community category by the Montana Urban and Community Forestry Association and the Department of Natural Resource and Conservation (DNRC).  With the award comes a $10,000.00 grant.  This award will be utilized to establish a boulevard cost share tree program, establish an experimental nursery at Wilson park, provide a fruit tree component to community gardens, and help in the promotion of Arbor Day in Billings.


2012 Gold Leaf Award

2012 Rocky Mountain Chapter International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) Gold Leaf Award for Excellence in Landscape Beatification.  The City of Billings received this award in partnership with Billings Arboriculture Association for helping beautify Zoo Montana for Arbor Day 2012.

Gold Leaf Award