Archive for the ‘Urban & Community Forestry’ Category

Look up, down, all around…how are your trees faring?

November 24, 2014
It's always a good idea to inspect your trees for any damaged from past storms.

It’s always a good idea to inspect your trees for any damage from past storms. Photo by: Guy Kramer

Trees provide many benefits but, like us, they may sustain injuries, become ill, or just get old and creaky. It’s a good idea to walk through your yard occasionally and take a peek at your trees from time to time to assess their condition.

Here’s a quick three-step process to inspect trees in your yard – think “up, down, and all around.”

  1. Look UP to the crown. Check for dead or hanging branches, limbs that lack bark, or show no signs of life. Dead or hanging branches may fall at any time, especially during winter winds. Do you see lots of fine twigs that have living buds? If not, that may indicate the entire tree is beginning to decline.
  2. Look DOWN to the roots. Visually inspect the root zone and the trunk flare (also called the root collar) just above the roots for damage. Look for peeling, cracking, or loose bark on the roots and lower trunk. If you see mushrooms growing out of the trunk or along the roots, these can be signs that a tree’s roots are decaying. Be alert to mounding or cracked soil that you haven’t noticed before, especially after heavy winds. This can be an indication that roots are broken and are not supporting the tree properly. If you see newly mounded or cracked soil, call a certified arborist as soon as possible to assess the tree for structural root damage.
  3. Look ALL AROUND the trunk. Inspect the trunk for wounds, cracks, or splits in the trunk, particularly where branches are attached. This could indicate decay or the potential for branches to fail. Look for decay pockets; if they extend over 1/3 the diameter of the trunk of the tree, that may indicate significant internal decay that compromises the strength of the trunk. Check for a lean greater than 40 percent, which may overbalance the tree if the root system is weak or damaged.

If this quick inspection of your trees raises questions about tree health or safety, contact a certified arborist to conduct a full inspection. This will give you peace of mind about whether your tree is okay, needs special care, or is approaching the end of its life.

If you’d like to learn more about assessing your trees, check out “How to Recognize and Prevent Tree Hazards” from the Pacific Northwest Chapter of the International Society of Arboriculture. The brochure contains explanations about warning signs to look for in trees along with great photos that illustrate those signs. You may also contact DNR’s Urban and Community Forestry Program for more information about caring for your trees properly to keep them healthy and safe.

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What could a $10,000 grant from DNR do for trees in your community?

November 19, 2014

bus bannerThanks to the U.S. Forest Service, DNR has grant funding that can help build your community forestry project. What could you do with $10,000?

Pierce County developed a campaign called ‘Trees are Amazing’ and it is over the top! Tree top, that is. It encourages proper tree planting and care that is easy and rewarding. And now they’re displaying tree banners on buses.

Thanks to a $10,000 grant through DNR’s Community Forestry Assistance Program, these banners will catch your eye and make you think about the importance of trees. Visit the Tacoma and Puyallup areas to see the new Pierce Transit bus banners that inspire and remind us of all the boundless things trees do for us.

Another great example of a project came from DNR’s grant to the Hands On Children’s Museum in Olympia. After receiving a $10,000 community forestry grant, they created an outdoor classroom for children called the Naturalist Cabin.

This is a new outdoor classroom called the Naturalist Cabin at Hands On Children's Museum

This is a new outdoor classroom called the Naturalist Cabin at Hands On Children’s Museum

This cabin directly connects children with nature by providing a stimulating, open-ended learning environment. It’s designed to encourage young children to care for and learn in nature, to teach them how to be better observers, to increase understanding about the importance of trees, plants and water in the urban environment, and to raise awareness among families and school groups about the importance of outdoor play.

Another important goal of the Naturalist Cabin is to increase understanding about the important role trees play in storm water management and in keeping Puget Sound clean.

What will your next project be? Contact DNR’s Urban and Community Forestry Program. The Community Forestry Assistance grants provide financial assistance for the execution of amazing projects like these.

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Storm-damaged trees? 5 tips to stay safe and 5 more tips to ensure proper care

November 12, 2014
What a mess! Storms can wreak havoc on trees, especially when they're near homes. Photo DNR

What a mess! Storms can wreak havoc on trees, especially when they’re near homes. Photo DNR

The winds may have died down, but homeowners still have two good reasons for caution in the days and weeks following a tree-damaging storm: residual hazards from storm-damaged trees and roving “tree cutters” who may not have the best interests of you and your trees in mind.

5 tips to stay safe around storm-damaged trees

  1. Never touch or attempt to remove fallen limbs from downed or sagging power lines; always report downed lines to your local utility company.
  2. Keep away from areas where uprooted trees may have damaged underground utilities.
  3. Avoid walking underneath trees that have broken limbs dangling.
  4. If you feel the need to inspect a tree after a storm, do not walk underneath its suspended branches or leaning trunk. Approach a leaning tree from the opposite side of the direction it is leaning. Binoculars are great for inspecting trees from a safe distance.
  5. Refrain from doing tree work yourself. Pruning large limbs or removing trees is dangerous business that requires specialized equipment and training.

After storms that cause heavy damage to trees, expect to see scores of poorly trained “tree cutters” come out of the woodwork, so-to-speak. These individuals may pressure homeowners into costly and unnecessary work, cause additional property damage due to their lack of expertise or training, or put homeowners at risk by operating without proper licensing or insurance coverage.

5 more tips to ensure that you, your property, and your trees are cared for properly

  1. Hire a company that is licensed, bonded and insured. Look to see if it is certified by the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA).
  2. Seek at least three estimates; ask for copies of the estimates in writing.
  3. Never put down a deposit for work without a signed contract that includes the company’s refund policy.
  4. Ask for references, and check them.
  5. Reject any company that recommends “topping” your tree. Don’t top trees!

You can always contact DNR’s Urban and Community Forestry Program for additional guidance.

 

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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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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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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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