Archive for the ‘Forests’ Category

A creepy crawly tree killer wants to head west

October 31, 2014
An unwanted visitor, the Asian longhorned beetle. Photo: United States Department of Agriculture

An unwanted visitor, the Asian longhorned beetle. Photo: United States Department of Agriculture

The Asian longhorned beetle is one truly scary insect, and it’s looking to hitch a ride on your campfire wood.

This beetle poses a threat to America’s hardwood trees, recreation and forestry. Maple and many popular urban street trees are at the top of its dinner menu, and it can even kill healthy trees. With no current cure, early identification and eradication are critical to its control.

The beetle most likely travels to the U.S. inside solid wood packing materials from China. It’s been intercepted at ports and found in warehouses throughout the country. Although this unpleasant pest is not yet found in western states, there are currently infestations in New Jersey, New York, Ohio, and Massachusetts.

Another source of the threat is through firewood being moved from infested areas. Never take firewood with you when you head out for adventure, and here’s why.

Learn more from our experts. DNR’s Forest Health Program provides technical assistance on tree and forest health care for a variety of public and private landowners.

Overcome your fear of bugs and help trees survive:

  • Conduct annual tree check
  • Report beetles or signs of damage
  • Allow officials access to survey
  • Purchase firewood where you will burn it
  • Diversify the trees you plant

You also can learn more about pesky, hungry pests at http://www.hungrypests.com/.

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We all want to live in Tree City, USA; Communities can now apply for Tree City status

October 30, 2014
Apply now to be a Tree City USA! You don't want to miss out on the fall color. Photo Janet Pearce/DNR

Apply now to be a Tree City USA! You don’t want to miss out on the fall color. Photo: Janet Pearce/DNR

Is your city or town a Tree City? Tree City USA communities bring recognized benefits to their citizens because trees and forests, when well cared for, help boost community health, safety, and character.

Tree City USA helps cities and towns build a foundation for effective, well-organized tree care programs. Cities and towns that pursue the designation recognize that good stewardship of natural resources is a reliable investment in the future of their community. In addition to the many benefits that trees provide, communities earning the Tree City USA award may also position themselves to receive financial support from DNR for projects that enhance community livability.

Communities can achieve Tree City USA status by meeting four core standards: dedicating a citizen tree board or city staff to address tree-related issues; having a community tree ordinance, tracking tree-related expenditures and activities; and by celebrating Arbor Day.

Sunny, fall colors. Photo by Guy Kramer

Sunny, fall colors. Photo: Guy Kramer

Approximately 30 percent of Washington residents live in a Tree City USA and currently, there are 84 designated Tree City USA communities in Washington state. See if your city is one of them.

Tree City USA is an inclusive program. Any incorporated city or town can participate, regardless of size, location, climate, or economic factors. Find out how your city can become a Tree City USA. Be sure to plan ahead, because the deadline for applying is December 15.

If you have questions or need help to promote the program in your community, contact DNR’s Urban and Community Forestry Program.

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Do you have bark beetles? How do you know? There’s a workshop for that

October 20, 2014
This tiny bark beetle is expanding to places it's never been before.

This tiny bark beetle is expanding to places it’s never been before.

Now is the time to take advantage of the season when beetles go dormant. Join experts at a free workshop in the to learn the best way to prune and thin pine trees and to reduce risks of bark beetle infestations.

The workshop will address the continued outbreak of Ips bark beetles in the Columbia River Gorge area.

When: Thursday, October 30, 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Where: White Salmon Library
77 NE Wauna Avenue
White Salmon, WA

State foresters and entomologists from both Oregon and Washington will provide expert advice and answer questions about bark beetles and pine tree health. The Underwood Conservation District will promote cost-share programs to assist in beetle-killed tree removal.

For the first time ever in 2010, the California fivespined Ips was recorded in the Underwood area of Washington state. This species was unknown to occur at damaging population levels in eastern Oregon until then. The range of this Ips beetle had recently been documented to extend throughout the Willamette Valley. Now experts have found the beetle as far north as Fort Lewis, Washington in Thurston County and as far east as Goldendale, Washington and The Dalles, Oregon. The California fivespined Ips only feeds on pine trees and can affect ornamental trees as well as those in the forest.

To learn more, WSU Extension has developed a factsheet, Pest Watch: California Fivespined Ips – A pine engraver new to Washington State which can be downloaded for free at: http://cru.cahe.wsu.edu/CEPublications/FS085E/FS085E.pdf.

For more information about the workshop, please contact Todd Murray (tmurray@wsu.edu, 509-427-3931) at the WSU Extension office or Dan Richardson (dan@ucdwa.org, 509-493-1936) at the Underwood Conservation District.

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Storm season already? Wind and rain raise risks of falling trees and branches

October 16, 2014
Trees that grow near power lines can be dangerous and cause power outages.

Trees that grow near power lines can be dangerous and cause power outages.

Wind, rain, and floods…the season is here. Winter storms and high winds are in store for us this fall. These big storms can cause headaches for all of us. This means damage to trees and big bills if a tree or large limbs fall on your house or car.

Be aware of the problems that can be caused by soggy ground and strong winds. Tree branches could snap, and shallow-rooted trees could topple. This can cause power outages, too. People living along the rivers in Washington should pay close attention to the latest weather updates over the fall and winter months. Rivers can rise very quickly during storms.

We can’t prevent storms from coming into our area, but there are ways to reduce the damage that winds can cause to trees. How? First of all, never top your trees, and second, keep them in great shape with regular maintenance. Proper pruning means careful cutting, not topping; smart staking; and thoughtful planting, as this video about tree care explains.

For more details about assessing storm damage, here’s what forest landowners look for after a storm:

More safety tips for storm season
Winter safety when outdoors
Dressing for the outdoors
General emergency preparedness

 

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Storm water runoff poses significant threats to water quality in Washington

October 10, 2014
Trees reduce stormwater runoff by intercepting rainfall in their canopies and roots. Photo: Guy Kramer

Trees reduce stormwater runoff by intercepting rainfall in their canopies and roots. Photo: Guy Kramer

Storm water runoff – the rain that falls on streets, driveways, rooftops and other developed land — is one of the most widespread challenges to water quality in Washington state. It carries oil, grease, fertilizers, soaps, and waste from pets and failing septic systems into streams and other bodies of water.

DNR has set a goal to clean up and restore Puget Sound, because even the clean water that originates in the upland forests we manage can become polluted as it flows through urban and suburban areas.

One of the best ways to mitigate the negative impacts of urban and suburban storm water runoff is to reduce how much of it ends up in natural waterways. Trees and shrubs are part of the solution because they help detain storm water on-site, in addition to slowing its flow and reducing erosion. October is an excellent time to recognize the many benefits that trees provide, including reduction and filtration of storm water runoff, because they:

  • Reduce storm water runoff by intercepting rainfall in their canopies where it is later re-released into the atmosphere.
  • Slow down runoff rates and reduce pollutants by absorbing storm water through their roots.
  • Store pollutants and transform them into less harmful substances.
  • Create healthy soil conditions that allow rainwater to filter into the soil so that less flows down streets, sidewalks, gutters, and storm sewers.

(more…)

Ceremony kicks off Urban & Community Forestry Month

October 3, 2014
planting trees

Children from an Olympia-area daycare program help ‘plant’ new street trees. Photo: Bob Redling/DNR

Helping Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark kick off Urban & Community Forestry Month this afternoon in Olympia were several dignitaries, a dozen pre-school children from a nearby daycare facility, two wooden benches, and three large boxes of tree-shaped cookies. More about the benches and the cookies in a minute.

DNR sponsors Urban & Community Forestry Month in Washington state as part of its effort to provide technical support, advice and encouragement to community forestry programs across the state. Today’s brief ceremony took place near the Natural Resources Building in Olympia. Also at the ceremony, Sheila Gray, chair of the Washington Community Forestry Council, presented the City of Olympia with an award marking its 21st year as an official ‘Tree City’ (there are 84 Tree Cities in Washington state).

tree bench

Cedar Creek Correctional Camp inmates milled the wood and made this bench and other items from three black locust trees recently removed from an Olympia streetside. Black locust is a highly rot-resistant wood. Photo: Bob Redling/DNR

Three recently planted starlight dogwood trees at the site were commemorated by the reading of a short poem by several children (followed by cookies!). The dogwoods replace three black locust trees that had grown too large for the narrow streetside median strip in which they had been planted. With a potential height of 80 feet, extensive root systems, and a tendency for limbs to break in high wind, the locust trees were just in the wrong place. In contrast, dogwoods are highly adaptable to urban sites.

DNR made good use of the wood from the removed trees; inmates at Cedar Creek Correctional Camp milled the wood into several items, including two benches (see photo). Black locust is one of the most rot-resistant woods available… you just might not want it growing in your yard or on your street.

Learn more about DNR’s Urban and Community Forestry program.

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Cultural heritage is all around us in the forest

September 15, 2014
Cedar tree used for bark harvest

Cedar tree used by Native Americans for a bark harvest. Note the scarring at the top of the photo. Photo: DNR

Woodlands provide a home for plants and animals, but they’re also home to the remains of past uses. Whether it’s an old well, homestead, railroad or a Tribal site, these cultural and historical resources on the land tell the story of our past – a tangible link to the people and events that shaped our shared history, communities and ourselves.

Most small landowners are willing to identify and protect cultural resources, but may not know how to go about doing so. They may also lack the financial resources to develop an organized and consistent approach to identifying and protecting the sites.

Both DNR’s stewardship foresters and Washington State University (WSU) Extension foresters can help private woodland owners develop forest stewardship plans that include steps to protect these resources. Addressing these resources in a stewardship plan also helps ensure that the plan meets state and federal laws that protect our cultural and historic resources. To find out more, go to the Washington State Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation or contact the office by phone at (360) 586-3065. For more information on the state’s Forest Practices Rules and to find out which Tribes are in your area, contact your closest DNR Region Office.

Two helpful resources about protecting cultural resources in the forest come from the 2012 Cultural Resources Workshop sponsored by the Quinault Indian Nation and Washington Forest Protection Association, and from the American Tree Farm Systems webinar Archeology in Your Woods.

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Make plans for planting trees; it’s healthier in the long run

September 8, 2014
This beautiful tree may not have a chance to grow healthy because it's close by and under an evergreen tree.

This fall add some color to your yard and be sure to plant your tree in a good location.

Have you started planning for fall planting? If you blinked, you may have missed summer, but now that fall is coming soon, it’s the perfect time to plan for any trees you intend to plant.

Whether you plant a tree for aesthetics, to increase your property value, to save energy by providing shade, or to watch birds while lounging in a hammock, it is important to plan ahead. Start by thinking about site selection.

For trees to grow to maturity and provide the many benefits we expect from them, they must be well matched to site conditions. Take a look at these important site conditions: above- and below-ground conflicts (such as buried utilities), expected site modifications, and how much maintenance and care the tree will require.

You also want to evaluate the site to make sure it’s a good place for a tree so you can pick the best species for that site. List the tree attributes you are looking for that fit the limitations of the site. Attributes may include crown shape or flower color. You might also consider whether the tree can tolerate a lot of shade from nearby trees or buildings. Is the soil often damp? Will there be room for the tree when it reaches its mature height?

Consider a species appropriate for your area of the state, too. Look to see if your city or county has a list of appropriate community trees.

Now comes the fun part for ‘tree geeks.’ Pull out the nursery catalogs or search the web for tree availability to find the perfect tree for your site.

Ed Gilman of the University of Florida Agricultural Sciences has created a site evaluation form that can guide you through the evaluation process. To find a great volume of information about tree selection, planting, care, maintenance, and management, visit Gilman’s website.

The U.S. Forest Service has a checklist of points to consider before, during and after planting your tree.

Visit DNR’s Urban and Community Forestry Program webpage for additional information.

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Have you watered your trees lately?

August 21, 2014

The dog days of summer are still upon us. It’s a good thing we have trees to help keep us cool! Summer is a great time to kick back, relax, and enjoy the nice weather. But this month and next can be hard on trees, and they can use our help. Don’t be fooled by cooler weather. Cooler weather does not necessarily mean moisture.

In Washington, most of the annual accumulation of moisture comes in three seasons, fall, winter and spring. Summer is typically very dry. This weather pattern is great for vacatioTreens and back yard barbecues, but difficult for trees – particularly newly planted trees.

When we do get moisture, it may not be enough for our leafy friends, especially those planted within the last year or two. Even if you are watering your lawn on a regular basis, your trees might not be getting enough to drink. Grass roots, after all, only grow to a depth of several inches. In contrast, trees roots are deeper, from about 18” to 24” deep.

Long, slow watering under the drip-line of a tree with a soaker hose or even a bucket with small holes drilled into will ensure that moisture seeps down into the root zone.

Or build a low ring of dirt about 1 foot from the trunk of the tree to create a soil dam. With your hose turned on to a slow trickle, fill the tree ring with water (this will take about 30 minutes). Keeping the hose on a trickle will allow the water to soak in rather than run off, while the dam will keep the water directly over the roots of the tree.

Remember that a 2-4 inch thick layer of bark mulch around the base of a tree will maintain soil moisture and help control weeds, (but keep the bark about a hands-width away from the trunk).

There are many factors involved when considered how much and how long to water. Check out this article by Oregon State University Extension (OSUE) about watering trees and shrubs the right way, and how watering needs differ depending on soil texture.

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More than just pretty to look at: trees remove pollution, help human health

August 4, 2014
Urban trees-bank parking lot

Image: Washington State Department of Natural Resources

We’ve said time and time again in this blog and that, “Trees are good!” Now we have more proof, thanks to a recently published study by the U.S. Forest Service.

Trees are saving more than 850 human lives each year and preventing 670,000 cases of acute respiratory symptoms in the U.S., according to the study — “Tree and Forest Effects on Air Quality and Human Health in the United States” — the first broad-scale estimate of air pollution removal by trees.

Looking at four common air pollutants — nitrogen dioxide, ozone, sulfur dioxide, and particulate matter with a diameter less than 2.5 microns — researchers valued the human health benefits of the reduced air pollution at nearly $7 billion annually. While trees’ pollution removal equated to an average air quality improvement of less than 1 percent, the impacts of that improvement are substantial. As expected, the pollution removal effect is substantially higher in rural areas (more trees) than in urban areas (fewer trees); however the effects on human health are substantially greater in urban areas because of the greater amounts of air-borne pollution and numbers of people affected.

Housed at DNR, the Washington Urban and Community Forestry Program promotes the economic, environmental, psychological, and aesthetic benefits of trees and helps local governments, citizen groups, and volunteers plant and sustain healthy trees where people live and work.

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