Archive for the ‘Forests’ Category

DNR & WSU Extension to present forestry education for small land owners this summer

June 12, 2014
Forest & Range Owners Field Days

Forest & Range Owners Field Days give participants hands-on, ‘in-the-field’ education presented by experts in forest and land management. Photo: DNR

Got a little “home in the woods”? Manage several acres of forestland? Or, do you hope to have a little woodland of your own someday? If that’s you, then this summer’s Forest and Range Owners Field Days presented by DNR and WSU Extension on June 21 and August 9 are just the ticket.

Meet top forestry experts and learn how to reduce risks, protect your financial investment, and accomplish your forestland management objectives at one of these events:

An additional event–the North Puget Sound Forest Owners Field Day–is planned for July 26 in Arlington.

These low-fee educational events are co-sponsored by DNR and Washington State University Extension. Each Field Day features classes and hands-on workshops led by experts in forest and range health, wildlife habitat, grazing, soils, fire protection, forestry skills, and timber and non-timber forest products.

Keep informed about these and other educational, landowner assistance events, courses and workshops in DNR’s Small Forest Landowner News, a bi-monthly e-newsletter that’s free and chock full of information articles for anyone who owns forestland or, really, any land.

Subscribe to DNR’s Small Forest Landowner News

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Climate change and the Northwest’s trees

June 9, 2014

Can we predict how future climatic changes will affect the growth of important Northwest tree species?

Parts of a Douglas fir

Photo: Nancy Charbonneau/DNR

Mathematical models developed by area researchers show great promise in predicting how future climate changes will affect the timing of the budding and flowering of coniferous trees here. That’s important knowledge because conifers, such as Douglas fir, are important to Washington State’s economy and environment.

DNR’s Meridian Seed Orchard, southeast of Olympia, is a major source of tree seeds for state forestlands and small family forestland owners. Owned and operated by DNR, the orchard produces seed for western red cedar, noble fir, Douglas fir, ponderosa pine, western larch, western white pine, and other coniferous tree species used to replant after timber harvests around the state.

Meridian Seed Orchard also is an efficient and reliable resource for collecting data to develop climate models because the seeds it gathers and grows come from many different areas and elevations in Washington. DNR’s self-funded Webster Forest Nursery uses seed from Meridian to produce between 8 million and 10 million seedlings annually to plant after timber harvests on state trust lands and small, privately-owned woodlands. The secret to successful planting is matching tree seedlings to meet the many different weather and soil zones around the state.    (more…)

Forestlands pressured by residential development; Housing density near Washington State forests grew faster than in Oregon

April 18, 2014

The number of structures on private lands bordering public forests in Washington and Oregon has more than doubled since the 1970s. The greatest increases in density were on the fringes of public forests in Pierce, King, Snohomish, and Clark counties in Washington, and Deschutes County in Oregon. That growth brings higher risks of wildfire and more negative impacts on native fish and wildlife habitat.

Aerial photographs from 1995 (upper photo) and 2006 document the increased number of private structures -- most residential--on private lands near this unidentified section of National Forest

Aerial photographs from 1995 (upper photo) and 2006 document the increased number of private structures — most residential–on private lands near this unidentified section of National Forest. Photo: National Agriculture Imagery Program.

Using aerial photography to inventory structures and compare the pace of development next to public forests, the U.S. Forest Service’s Pacific Northwest Research Station found that the development growth rate on private lands bordering Washington DNR-managed state trust lands was twice that seen on private lands next to state forests in Oregon. The study’s authors speculate that some of the disparity is because Oregon enacted its Land Conservation Act in 1973 while the Washington State Growth Management Act did not become law until 1990 — the study covered 1974 to 2005. All the same, more and more private structures are being built on private lands bordering public forests in both states.

The expansion of development at the edges of public lands raises numerous management issues for forest managers, including:

  • Introduction of invasive plants;
  • Increases in unmanaged recreation;
  • Negative impacts on native fish and wildlife; and
  • More use of roads, which can lead to a rise in human-caused wildfire starts.

While fewer new structures were built next to U.S. Forest Service lands in Washington during the 30-year period studied, it was because DNR-managed lands and commercial forestlands tended to buffer federal lands from activities on private lands. Read the study.

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The simple act of planting a tree is hardly so simple

April 11, 2014
Planting trees by Seattle standards is always a good thing.

Planting trees by Seattle standards is always a good thing.

Most of us recognize that anyone who has stuck a tree into their front yard and managed not to kill it is hardly a tree planting expert. Unfortunately, even the pros will disagree on the best way to plant. At some point, you’ve all played witness to matter-of-fact tree planting dogma from a self-proclaimed tree planting expert, often with some pretty obscure ideas and methodologies.

There are no absolute right answers that apply to each unique tree planting situation, but if we can agree that ‘the right way’ to plant a tree should be based on modern best practices and the best available science, then we’re in luck.

Before you plant a tree this spring, be sure to check out the following resources: 

  1.  The Practical Science of Planting Trees, by Gary Watson and E.B. Himelick: Whoa! Published in 2013, this is a brand new, 250-page manual with full color photos and dozens of illustrations, covers everything there is to know about planting trees. This resource is an absolute must for the tree planting nerd you know. 
  2.  ANSI A300 Transplanting Standard, Part 6: This is the industry standard for planting and transplanting trees and shrubs. Especially if you work for a municipality, you’ll need this to help with writing and enforcing your tree planting contract specifications. 
  3.  ISA Best Management Practices, Tree Planting: Last revised in 2005, this companion publication to the ANSI standard is a modest investment for anyone who calls themselves a tree planter. Keep a copy in the truck for reference in the field. 
  4. DNR’s Urban and Community Forestry Program has a publication written by Jim Flott, an ISA Certified Arborist and consulting urban forester from Spokane, which specifically details the perils of planting trees too deeply. Check it out on our webpage: Proper Planting Begins Below Ground. 
  5.  Washington State University’s own Dr. Linda Chalker-Scott has spent her career debunking numerous horticultural myths, including those relating to tightly held, but outdated beliefs about planting trees.
  6. Not so much the reading type? No worries. Casey Trees, a highly reputable non-profit tree planting organization in Washington D.C. has done a nice job of translating best practices for tree planting into some short, easy-to-follow instructional videos: Planting a Balled-and-Burlapped Tree; or, Planting a Container-grown Tree

Now go forth and plant trees (in accordance with best practices, of course).

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College receives 2013 Tree Campus USA recognition

April 10, 2014
Students from the University of Puget Sound helped make their campus a Tree Campus USA®

Students from the University of Puget Sound helped make their campus a Tree Campus USA®

The University of Puget Sound has been honored with a 2013 Tree Campus USA® recognition by the Arbor Day Foundation for its commitment to effective urban forest management.

Tree Campus USA® is a national program created in 2008 by the Arbor Day Foundation to honor colleges and universities for effective campus forest management and for engaging staff and students in conservation goals.

“This national recognition is a well-deserved vote of appreciation for all that our grounds staff do to ensure the Puget Sound campus remains a place of local and regional pride,” said Bob Kief, Vice President for Facilities Services. “I want to thank our Grounds Manager, Joe Kovolyan, and his staff for their dedication and passion in maintaining such a beautiful campus.”

Puget Sound is one among only six colleges and universities in the Pacific Northwest to be awarded the Tree Campus USA® distinction since the program’s creation. Awardees must meet five standards, including: maintaining a tree advisory committee and a campus tree-care plan; dedicating annual expenditures for a campus tree program; observing Arbor Day; and offering a student service-learning project. The Tree Campus USA program is sponsored by Toyota.

“Students are eager to volunteer in their communities and become better stewards of the environment,” said John Rosenow, founder and chief executive of the Arbor Day Foundation. “Participating in Tree Campus USA sets a fine example for other colleges and universities, while helping to create a healthier planet for us all.”

The 97-acre Puget Sound campus is home to more than 2,000 trees, including towering Douglas Firs and other native evergreens, alongside deciduous shade and flowering trees such as birch, sycamores, dogwoods, and American Elms.

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Happy Arbor Day! Celebrate trees today and every day

April 8, 2014
Yvonne Sun, a fifth-grader at Clyde Hill Elementary School in Clyde Hill, was Washington State’s winner in 2010 of the National Arbor Day Foundation’s Arbor Day Poster Contest. She demonstrates what trees mean to her.

Yvonne Sun, a fifth-grader at Clyde Hill Elementary School, was Washington State’s winner in 2010 of the National Arbor Day Foundation’s Arbor Day Poster Contest. She demonstrates what trees mean to her.

Arbor Day is a celebration of trees and the many benefits they offer. Today is Arbor Day, and you might want to thank a healthy tree near you by taking good care of it. If you plant the right tree in the right place, the benefits will keep on giving: clean air, clean water, shade on a hot day, and habitat for wildlife.

One way we celebrate Arbor Day is through a special program called Tree City USA®. DNR and the Arbor Day Foundation recognize Tree City USA communities across the state for the dedicated efforts they invest in managing and caring for trees in their community. Communities that earn the Tree City USA award do so by meeting criteria that demonstrate their commitment to healthy community trees and forests, now and into the future.

To be acknowledged as a Tree City USA by the Arbor Day Foundation, a city must designate staff to care for trees, appoint a citizen tree board to advocate for community forestry, establish a tree ordinance, spend at least $2 per capita on tree care, and celebrate Arbor Day. In doing so, Tree City USA communities are investing in a future that is healthy, vibrant, and sustainable.

The investments we make in community trees are very real. Trees pay us back in the form of benefits or “ecosystem services” they provide. See for yourself…pick a tree in your neighborhood, measure the diameter, and discover exactly what benefits it provides. You’ll be happily surprised! The healthier your trees, the greater benefits they return.

Be sure to never top a tree. Tree topping, best described as the indiscriminate removal of limbs resulting in a reduction of a tree’s height, will reduce tree health, increase tree-related risks, and create costly maintenance needs each year. Branches and leaves that re-sprout from a topped tree will grow very rapidly, are weakly attached, and rob the tree of precious energy, making it more likely to break in storm events. On the other hand, a healthy tree that is properly cared for will provide greater benefits and may only need pruning every five years or so. Learn to prune trees properly and your trees will be healthier, stronger, longer-lived, and less expensive to maintain.

Washington State has 84 Tree Cities. Is your city is a Tree City USA? Click here to find out.

Be a part of Arbor Day and celebrate the healthy trees all around us! If your community isn’t part of the Tree City USA Program, contact your city officials to find out why. You might be more qualified than you think! The Tree City USA program is designed so that any incorporated city or town can get involved, regardless of location, size, or economic standing. Make your community a Tree City USA and help them plan to take part in the Arbor Day celebrations next year.

DNR’s Urban and Community Forestry Program works with cities and towns throughout Washington State to help them plant, preserve, and maintain the trees that make our cities and towns wonderful places to live, work and play.

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DNR-run cost share program helps reduce wildfire risks, improve forest health

March 20, 2014
Forest before and after thinning.

Removing the smaller, weaker trees from this Eastern Washington forest (left) produced a more natural and healthier stand (right) that will be more resilient to wildfire and insect infestations. Photos: Glenn Kohler/DNR.

The ‘official’ start of the 2014 fire season in Washington State is in April, but DNR is already helping private landowners to reduce wildfire risks. One effort likely to pay off starting this year is our drive to improve forest health conditions, a big problem in many of the state’s drier eastside forests.

A federally funded cost-share program, administered by DNR in Washington State, pays for up to half of a landowner’s cost to thin and prune trees and remove forest slash. The program is available to forestland owners in portions of Ferry, Klickitat, Okanogan, and Yakima counties where a Forest Health Hazard Warning was declared last fall by DNR and the U.S. Forest Service, which is funding the program.

Getting the word out

Last year, DNR mailed more than 10,500 informational notices to landowners in the designated forest health hazard warning areas describing how to assess forest conditions and reduce disease, insect, and wildfire risks. DNR also established a toll-free telephone number, launched a web page, conducted extensive media outreach, and held 16 workshops to spread the word about DNR’s various assistance programs.

During 2013, DNR foresters responded to technical assistance requests from more than 500 landowners who manage over 97,000 acres. The federal funding for sharing forest thinning and slash disposal costs with landowners aims to improve forest conditions and dramatically reduce wildfire risks by protecting healthier trees through the removal of small, weak trees and disposing of the resulting limbs and brush.

This year, DNR continues to focus on forest health concerns. Thinning today’s overgrown forests can encourage the growth of more ponderosa pine and western larch —trees better adapted to the area’s historic pattern of smaller, but more frequent, naturally caused fires.

Forest landowners may apply for cost-share funding online.

To learn more about the Forest Health Hazard Warning, visit http://www.dnr.wa.gov/foresthealth

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Puget SoundCorps crew beautifies the City of Puyallup, rain AND shine!

March 13, 2014
Greg Dunbar and Kasey Lambert shovel mulch for young trees in Puyallup to reduce competition from weeds. PHOTO: Janet Pearce/DNR

Greg Dunbar and Kasey Lambert shovel mulch for young trees in Puyallup to reduce competition from weeds.
PHOTO: Janet Pearce/DNR

All month long, Puget SoundCorps members are caring for trees in Puyallup’s urban forest in collaboration with DNR’s Urban and Community Forestry Program.

Based out of Olympia, the crew assists city staff to care for trees through structural pruning to keep trees strong and sound and mulching to reduce competition from weeds.

Crew Supervisor Geoff Baran and Assistant Crew Supervisor Greg Dunbar oversee the hard work of Meg Brennan, Travis Johnsey, and Kasey Lambert. Crewmembers have been trained in proper pruning techniques and correct tree installation and care as part of their Puget SoundCorps training.

Pruning Puyallup’s street trees will pay off in the long run: trees with good structure are stronger and better able to weather the winter storms that pass through our area each year. Providing good care to young trees also reduces future maintenance costs.

Recently, these crewmembers received thanks and accolades from Governor Jay Inslee for their hard work removing invasive species from natural forested areas on the Washington State Capitol Campus. Their work will help boost the benefits of a healthy forest habitat surrounding campus.

Travis Johnsey scatters mulch around tree trunks. PHOTO: Janet Pearce/DNR

Travis Johnsey scatters mulch around tree trunks.
PHOTO: Janet Pearce/DNR

DNR’s Urban and Community Forestry Program works with communities throughout Washington State to help them grow a bounty of healthy, beautiful trees that make our cities and towns wonderful places to live, work and play. Funding for this Puget SoundCorps crews comes from the 2012 Jobs Now Act.

About the Puget Sound Corps

The Puget SoundCorps Program creates jobs while cleaning up state-owned aquatic lands and uplands across the 12-county area that makes up the Puget Sound basin.

SoundCorps members are young adults (18 to 25 years old) and military veterans who are serving a year of service as AmeriCorps members. Age restrictions may be waived for military veterans.

Puget SoundCorps is part of the broader Washington Conservation Corps program administered by Washington Department of Ecology in partnership with the Washington State Department of Natural Resources. The Washington Conservation Corps is supported through grant funding and Education Awards provided by AmeriCorps.

For more information about the Puget SoundCorps Program, visit: www.ecy.wa.gov/wcc/psc.html

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Cost-share available to improve your forest’s health and reduce wildfire risks

March 10, 2014
Thinning and pruning trees helps to create a healthier forest and reduce wildfire risks. PHOTO: DNR.

Thinning and pruning trees helps to create a healthier forest and reduce wildfire risks. PHOTO: DNR.

If you have forestland in Chelan, Kittitas, Klickitat or Yakima counties, you may be eligible to receive federal help for some of the costs to reduce wildfire risks on your properties.

The cost-share program, administered by the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR), pays for up to half of a landowner’s cost to thin and prune trees and remove forest slash.

Many forest stands in the four-county area have grown too dense, producing weaker trees that are more susceptible to damage from pine bark beetles, western spruce budworm, and other harmful insects and diseases. Dense, overcrowded forest stands also pose wildfire risks.

Forest landowners may apply for cost-share funding online at: www.surveymonkey.com/s/dnrcostshare.

DNR foresters are available to meet with interested landowners, assess the health of their forests, and recommend forest management options. Landowners interested in discussing the cost-share program with a forester should contact:

Chuck Wytko
Southeast Region Landowner Assistance District Manager
Washington State Department of Natural Resources
509-925-0963
Charles.Wytko@dnr.wa.gov

Federally funded by the U.S. Forest Service, this program is available to forestland owners in portions of Chelan, Kittitas, Klickitat and Yakima counties where DNR has declared a Forest Health Hazard Warning. To learn more, visit: www.dnr.wa.gov/foresthealth.

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Is there a link between tree health and human health?

March 6, 2014
This red oak tree helps cool and freshen the air, mitigate stormwater runoff, reduce stress and anxiety, increase property values, and so much more.

This red oak tree helps cool and freshen the air, mitigate stormwater runoff, reduce stress and anxiety, increase property values, and so much more.

A new study from the USDA Forest Service’s Pacific Northwest Research Station is suggesting yet another compelling link between the presence of trees and human health. Could this link be so strong that a poorly-treed community might actually suffer higher rates of cardiovascular disease and death among people? The author of the study, Geoffrey Donovan, believes this may be true.

While Donovan’s results imply higher rates of cardiovascular disease and death in communities where the tree canopy has been decimated by Emerald Ash Borer (EAB), Donovan is careful to emphasize that his results are not causational, but they are highly correlated.

A summary of this study, as written by Marie Oliver, can be found here.

Humans intuitively understand the value of trees to their physical and mental health. Trees make our cities and towns much more livable. They cool and freshen the air, mitigate stormwater runoff, reduce stress and anxiety, increase property values, and so much more.

Other benefits of trees are often not obvious. Trees turn sunlight into food sources for insects, wildlife and people; they supply wood for fuel, furniture and homes; and they provide beauty for all of us.

DNR’s Urban and Community Forestry Program is raising awareness about the benefits of trees in communities. Join local efforts so your city can benefit from the healthy quality of life that trees can offer.

Still in doubt? Pick a tree in your neighborhood, measure the diameter, and find out exactly what benefits it provides. You’ll be happily surprised!

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