Archive for the ‘Urban & Community Forestry’ Category

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has spent her career debunking numerous horticultural myths, including those relating to tightly held, but outdated beliefs about planting trees.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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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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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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Easy steps to becoming a Tree City USA®

February 28, 2014

Tree City USA recognizes cities and towns that go the extra mile to manage and care for healthy urban forests.

Find out if your city is involved, and if not, learn how easy it is to become a Tree City.

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Select the right place to plant your tree: Tips to avoid tree-planter’s regret syndrome

February 26, 2014
This was the wrong tree planted closely to sidewalks. Think ahead before planting a tree that will grow too big for its location.

This was the wrong tree planted too closely to the sidewalk. Think ahead before planting a tree that will grow too big for its location.

Your yard might be a bit bare and lacking character. Trees to the rescue!

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

Evaluate the site to make sure this is the best possible place for a tree to live and that you have the information to select the best species for that site.

Considerations when selecting your site include:

  • Are there underground utilities? Call 1-800-424-5555 two working days before you dig a hole. A utility location service will mark the pathways of underground utilities on your property, including water, electric, gas and sewer, so you can avoid costly and dangerous line damage.
  • Is there enough space for the tree? Visualize the tree 50 years from now and plant so that it will not interfere with nearby structures, or overhead utilities (see photo). A large-statured, long-lived tree will need more space than one that matures at a small height. Only small-growing trees (less than 30’ at maturity) should be planted under overhead power lines. Consider how wide the base of the tree will be at maturity, and plant to avoid damage to sidewalks, and infrastructure.
  • What are the environmental conditions? Some trees are tolerant of partial or full shade; others need full sunlight to survive. Some trees tolerate well-drained, dry soils while others need and thrive in consistently moist soils.
  • Do you need a permit? Know your community’s regulations regarding tree planting on public and private property.

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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The Friends of the Seminary Hill Natural Area awarded for restoring urban forest in Centralia

February 14, 2014
Award recipients from left to right: Emil Pierson, Lisa Carlson, Judy Bell, Brian Mittge, Barbara Fandrich, Sheila Gray, Bill Moeller, Bruce Craig, David Underwood, and Joe Scorcio

Award recipients from left to right: Emil Pierson, Lisa Carlson, Judy Bell, Brian Mittge, Barbara Fandrich, Sheila Gray, Bill Moeller, Bruce Craig, David Underwood, and Joe Scorcio

These are friends you want in your backyard! They pull ivy, plant native plants, build trails, and restore natural areas.

Recently, the Friends of the Seminary Hill were recognized for exceptional public service through their extraordinary volunteer efforts with the City of Centralia in Seminary Hill Natural Area.

The Friends of the Seminary Hill Natural Area have pulled miles and miles of English ivy over the years to preserve the wildland character of this exceptional hidden jewel.

Native plants are growing where there was once a forest of ivy. Volunteers have built trails, installed steps on steep slopes, closed paths to reduce erosion, developed signs and maps, and even graveled a small parking lot in coordination with city staff.

Many events are held throughout the year including wildflower walks, poetry walks, bird watching and children’s activities. The Seminary Hill Natural Area is also an outdoor classroom for several classes from nearby Centralia College.

The Washington Community Forestry Council believes in recognizing those who have made exemplary contributions to urban forestry. Through this award program, the Council provides individuals, businesses and organizations with well-deserved recognition for preserving, planting, and managing forests and trees for public benefits and quality of life.

Many of the founding members of the Friends of the Seminary Hill Natural Area are still actively involved: Sandy and Robert Godsey still provide refreshments for work parties, as well as write the newsletters; Bill Moeller, who signed Seminary Hill into existence as a City Natural Area when he was Mayor of Centralia in 1981; Stellajoe Staebler, as a Girl Scout leader, helped build awareness of the natural area for many years; along with many other long-term committed volunteers.

Upcoming public events include an Earth Day cleanup on April 26. For more information, please email goseminaryhill@gmail.com.

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Trees get cold too; don’t let winter kill them

February 5, 2014
Properly prune your trees to avoid breaking limbs in the winter. Trees don't need snow on them to become hazardous.  PHOTO: Dena Scroggie

Properly prune your trees to avoid breaking limbs in the winter.
PHOTO: Dena Scroggie

Winter weather means frigid temperatures and icy winds in many parts of Washington. While we can choose to stay inside or bundle up and venture forth, trees don’t have that option; they withstand the elements as best they can. You can help your trees during this challenging part of the year by following a few suggestions offered by the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA).

  • Put composted organic mulch under your tree in the fall or early winter to help retain water and reduce temperature extremes. A thin layer of mulch will act like a blanket and give the tree’s roots a little extra winter protection.
  • Give your trees a drink. Winter droughts require watering as much as summer droughts. If temperatures permit, an occasional watering during the winter on young trees can be a lifesaver. But be sure to water only when soil and trees are cool but not frozen.
  • Prune your trees. Winter is actually one of the best times to prune because it is easier to see the structure of the trees without their leaves. But limit pruning to deadwood and poorly placed branches in order to save as many living branches as possible. Learn how to prune correctly by taking a pruning class, reading a book, or visiting a website.
  • Prevent mechanical injuries. Branch breakage or splitting can be caused by ice and snow accumulation, or chewing and rubbing by animals. Prevent problems on young trees by shaking heavy snow or ice from branches and wrapping the base of trees in a hard, plastic guard or metal hardware cloth (metal flashing). Wrapping trees with burlap or plastic cloth also can prevent temperature damage. Just remember to remove the wraps and guards in the spring to prevent damage when the tree begins to grow again.

To get the best advice for tree care, contact a local certified arborist. For more information on tree education, visit www.treesaregood.com.

Learn how DNR helps communities manage and care for healthy urban forests.

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Urban and Community Forestry grants available now

February 2, 2014
City trees in downtown Olympia PHOTO by Guy Kramer

City trees in downtown Olympia
PHOTO by Guy Kramer

DNR‘s Urban and Community Forestry Program (UCF) 2014 grant applications are now available on our grant resources pageApplications are due by 4 p.m., February 28

UCF is offering three grant opportunities:

  • Community Forestry Assistance Grants.
  • Inventory Grants.
  • Tree Planting Grants – NOTE: these grants are limited to communities with current Tree City USA recognition or those that are applying to become a Tree City USA this year.

If your community is a Tree City USA, the announcement and links to applications were sent directly to your community’s Tree City USA contact.

Grants are offered in partnership with the US Forest Service Urban and Community Forestry Program. They may be awarded to local units of government, 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organizations, educational institutions, or tribal governments. Community tree volunteer groups and neighborhood associations, while not directly eligible to apply, are encouraged to develop their projects in conjunction with an eligible organization.

Visit our grant resources page for a list of projects funding in the past 10 years.

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