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Missoula urban forest getting noticed - KPAX.com | Continuous News | Missoula & Western Montana

Missoula urban forest getting noticed

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MISSOULA - It’s one of Missoula’s largest urban forests you may not have noticed before -- 100,000 hybrid poplar trees located on a 180-acre site just off Mullan Road near the wastewater treatment plant.

MTN News first told you about the hand-planted trees when they went into the ground four years ago and now they’re getting tall enough to be noticed. In a few years, they’ll be harvested and sold as sawlogs and then replanted.

It’s a peaceful place that’s doing more than just providing habitat and a future source of income for the city. The trees are also helping to save the Clark Fork River by using what's called effluent water to grow the trees.

"We do this primarily to take nutrients: phosphorous and nitrogen out of the river and land apply it and grow trees. We're taking 20-to-25 percent of our discharge to the river and putting it on our trees in the summer...when the algae season is and want to keep algae out of the Clark Fork River," said wastewater plane supervisor Starr Sullivan.

The trees are all males to keep the growth under control and bred to handle our climate. During the growing season, the poplars keep about 8,700 pounds of nitrogen and about 660 pounds of phosphorous out of the Clark Fork River.

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