Archive for the ‘Urban & Community Forestry’ Category

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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Tree trouble from the wind storm in eastern Washington? 10 tips to keep you and your family safe

July 25, 2014
Wind storm topples trees in Spokane area. Photo by Garth Davis

Wind storm topples trees in Spokane area. Photo by Garth Davis

On the evening of July 23, 2014, thunderstorms packing high winds and hail pummeled Spokane and many other areas in eastern Washington. In its wake, the storm toppled thousands of trees and damaged many more.

Here are two things homeowners may experience 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.
  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 180 degrees opposite 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.

No matter what, always report downed lines to your local utility company.

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 lack of expertise or training, and 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!
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Communities: Deadline fast approaching for Urban Forestry Restoration Project

June 13, 2014
Travis Johnsey scatters mulch around tree trunks. PHOTO: Janet Pearce/DNR

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

Is your city located in the Puget Sound Basin? Could you use a hand maintaining public trees, green spaces, and natural areas that make up your urban forest? If you answered yes to both of those questions, read on:

The Urban Forestry Restoration Project (UFRP) provides Puget SoundCorps crews to assist communities with urban forestry maintenance and restoration tasks. The UFRP and its crews who do the hard work are back for another year of invasive plant removal, structural tree pruning, mulching, and planting. These crews have made big impacts to urban forestry maintenance in Puget Basin cities such as Burien, Covington, Edgewood, Kent, Kirkland, Lake Forest Park, Puyallup, Redmond, and Renton—the list goes on! You can’t afford not to take advantage of this sweet opportunity. While DNR is working to secure funding for future years of UFRP assistance, there are no guarantees that the program will continue beyond 2015.

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

Your applications and participation in the program help to demonstrate the demand for these much-needed services, which provide not only meaningful work experiences for crew members, but also on-the-job training that directly impacts transitions to full-time employment. Crew members learn valuable skills while working hard to improve the health, vibrancy, and sustainability of our urban forests in the greater Puget Sound region. One-third of crew members from last year’s crews have entered tree-related careers, ranging from climbing arborist to production nursery work to studying for an urban forestry degree. Five crew members will be sitting for their Certified Arborist examination this fall during the 2014 Pacific Northwest Chapter of the International Society of Arboriculture Annual Training Conference.

Local project proposals for the 2014-2015 year will be accepted through June 30, 2014. Learn more about the UFRP. Look online to find application forms and other materials about UFRP.

 

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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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