Archive for the ‘Forests’ Category

Planting for success

February 9, 2015

Here are six tips from a DNR urban forester on how to properly care for your trees. Well-cared-for trees provide a lifetime of benefits.

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Guide your tree’s life: prune as it grows

February 2, 2015
Learn how to prune properly by taking a class.  Photo to DNR

Learn how to prune properly by taking a class.
Photo to DNR

If you want your trees to live long, healthy, sturdy lives, pruning is the way to go. Good pruning practices act as structural training, which develops strong ‘bones’ as trees grow and mature. In other words, less work for you and more safety for everyone.

Simply put, structural pruning helps your tree keep its ‘head’ – its leader – and develop strong branches. You can start by identifying the central leader, the straightest stem in the middle of the tree. Then prune away the 3Ds:

  • Dead
  • Diseased
  • Damaged

Next, support that central leader by removing any branches that look like they will grow higher than the central leader.

Prune with care. Over-pruning reduces a tree’s ability to feed itself and may stress a tree enough to encourage insect or disease problems. Never remove more than 25 percent of a tree’s live crown in a single year.

If you’d like to see structural pruning in action, take a drive to the City of Shoreline. Throughout the month of February, the City will work with a Puget SoundCorps team to prune young street trees to help them develop a strong, sound structure that will keep them healthy and safe as they mature. To conduct this work, the City received an Urban Forestry Restoration Project (UFRP) grant, which is administered by DNR’s Urban and Community Forestry Program.

The UFRP provides Puget SoundCorps crews to assist communities with urban forestry maintenance and restoration tasks, such as structural pruning and invasive plant removal. For more information about the UFRP, visit our webpage or contact Micki McNaughton at (360) 902-1637 or micki.mcnaughton@dnr.wa.gov.

Well-cared for trees provide a wide variety of environmental services, such as cleaning the air, while contributing to the health, beauty and economic vibrancy of a community. Give your trees the right care to help them grow up to be healthy, safe, beautiful citizens of your community!

Learn more about good pruning practices with these resources:

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Timely Tree Tips; suggestions for bare-tree season

January 15, 2015
Don't forget to check often any structural support cables or stakes used on your trees.  PHOTO DNR

Don’t forget to check often any structural support cables or stakes used on your trees.
PHOTO DNR

Winter is often regarded as a slow time for working with trees; even the hardiest of Northwesterners don’t exactly enjoy working outside in freezing cold, pouring rain, or blowing snow. Any volunteer coordinator will tell you that it’s much harder to coax would-be volunteers out of their cozy abodes for a mid-morning ivy yank on a gray day in January.

Nonetheless, this season of leafless trees sets the stage for work that might be easier – yes, easier, to do now than in the warm days of summer.

Here are some activities particularly suitable to our leafless deciduous trees in winter:

  • Tree Inspections. Leaves send us important signals about tree health; however a dense summer canopy may obscure other signs of tree distress such as dead wood, broken limbs, cracks, cavities, included bark, and decay fungi. Binoculars are a great tool for performing ground-based inspections of tree canopies in the leaf-off season.
  • Cable Inspections. Many tree owners make the mistake of installing structural support cables and never following up with regular inspections. Cable inspections are easier in the winter as there are no leaves to interfere with visual inspections. Cabling systems should be periodically inspected by an ISA Certified Arborist to ensure they are still performing as intended and no causing harm to the tree(s).
  • Invasive Species Control. Remove perennial invasive plants in the winter to reduce the abundance of seeds come spring. Where English Ivy is flourishing out-of-reach in tree canopies, winter is a great time to cut a “lifesaver” ring in the ivy around trees. Doing so means you’ll witness the dieback of treated ivy before tree leaves re-emerge, and you will be assured your hard work was effective.
  • Tree Removal. No leaves means less mess. Frozen ground also means less damage to turf from heavy equipment and other impacts of large tree removal.
  • Structural Pruning.  If January brings a lull in your maintenance schedule, fill it with structural pruning to “pay it forward” and you won’t regret it. Structural pruning is easier in winter when you can clearly see the structure of the tree. Pruning to encourage good tree structure in young trees can significantly reduce the need for costly tree maintenance in the future. This work is best done by those with the experience and skill to recognize the difference between dead limbs and live ones in the absence of leaves.

If tree work entices you outside this winter, stay warm, stay dry, stay hydrated, and stay positive. Remember that you’re doing important work for a good cause. The busy days of spring will be here before you know it, and you’ll be grateful to have made the most of your time and maintenance opportunities this winter.

From DNR’s January Tree Link Newsletter

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Learn how to doctor your trees at Lyle seminar

January 12, 2015
DNR continues to seek funding to restore forest health and prevent wildfires in Washington.

DNR continues to seek funding to restore forest health and prevent wildfires in Washington.

You can help Washington’s forests become healthier and less susceptible to fires.

Proper management of forests can reduce wildfire risk, improve forest health and enhance wildlife habitat. Washington State Department of Natural Resources is hosting a free workshop in Lyle February 7 to help owners of eastern Washington forestland learn land management techniques before the 2015 wildfire season begins.

A cadre of foresters, entomologists (insect specialists), and wildlife biologists will be on hand. Fellow landowners will talk about management activities they have undertaken on their land to reduce fuel loads and make their forests more resistant to insects, diseases and wildfire.

Workshop Details

Date:               Saturday, February 7, 2015

Time:              10:00 am to 3:00 pm

Location:       High Prairie Community and Fire Hall

701 Struck Road, Lyle, WA 98635

Note:               A FREE workshop and lunch is provided.

This year, DNR continues to focus on forest health and wildfire prevention. During the 2015 Legislative Session, we’re seeking $20 million in additional funds to restore forest health and to prevent wildfires.

To register for the workshop, contact:

For more on how you can help reduce fire hazards and improve Washington’s forests through DNR’s forest health, fuel reduction and Firewise programs, contact our Northeast or Southeast region offices.

DNR foresters are available to meet with interested landowners, assess the health of their forests, and recommend forest management options. Even if we don’t have resources at that moment, we are always working to provide landowners with the resources they need to make their forests healthier.

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New Year’s Resolutions for community tree advocates

January 9, 2015
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.

The dawning of a new year compels many of us to take a hard look our habits and behaviors, and then to set new goals to pursue what we believe will make us better people in the year ahead.

Resolutions are most often personal: lose weight, eat healthy, stay in better contact with friends and loved ones, or try a new hobby. These are all worthy pursuits, but how about investing energy in New Year’s resolutions that make a difference to trees in your community (and which might help you too).

Suggested resolutions for 2015:

  • Write articles, blogs, or letters that champion the importance of trees in your community, and encourage others to become active tree stewards where you live.
  • Take a child to a local park, forest or natural area and explore the environment with him or her. Unsure where to start? Search for a nearby nature center, natural area, or state, county, or city park that offers interpretive signage or guided activities.
  • Attend at least one public meeting to better understand how your community operates. It’s a good way to learn what others believe are issues of local importance, and it can help you strategize how trees might be included in community projects and activities.
  • Arrange a friendly chat, perhaps over coffee or lunch, with a local developer, business owner, HOA president, or other stakeholder in community forestry. Learn which issues, struggles, opinions, or feelings about trees are important to them. Ask how you can help them to incorporate trees successfully in their work in 2015 and beyond.
  • Donate to, become a member of, or volunteer for an organization that supports healthy community trees and forests. To get you started in Washington State, consider organizations such as:
    • Conservation Districts (statewide), Friends of Trees (Vancouver), Earthcorps (Seattle), Forterra’s Green Cities Partnerships (Seattle, Tacoma, Everett, Kirkland, Redmond, Kent, and Puyallup), The Lands Council (Spokane), the Mid-Columbia Forestry Council (Tri-Cities), the Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust (I-90 corridor), Plant Amnesty (Seattle), Washington State Extension Master Gardeners (statewide), or the Yakima Area Arboretum (Yakima).

Or simply…

  • Plant a new tree every month! Or, twelve trees sometime during 2015. By volunteering at community planting events, you’ll not only meet, but likely exceed that goal.

Together, let’s resolve to make 2015 a banner year for community trees.

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Teanaway Community Forest – A Year in Review

January 3, 2015

A snowy river in the Teanaway Community Forest

Just over a year ago the Washington departments of Natural Resources (DNR) and Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) began an exciting endeavor to jointly manage the state’s first community forest. Since then, we believe we’ve made good progress toward preserving the more than 50,200 acres located in the Teanaway Valley near Cle Elum.

In February, our agencies selected a diverse and committed group of advisory committee members to provide input on a management plan for the Teanaway Community Forest. The 20-member group includes representatives from the Yakama Nation, local community, conservation organizations, and several recreation groups.

The Teanaway Community Forest Advisory Committee met 10 times in 2014, devising objectives and strategies for watershed protection, fish and wildlife habitat, forestry and grazing. Committee members also have discussed recreation and community involvement in the forest.

The public continues to engage around this beautiful landscape. DNR and WDFW, with help from the committee, held well-attended public open houses in June and December regarding future management of the forest. In addition, we have reviewed the more than 1,400 public comments provided online.

In the meantime, the agencies and volunteers have completed several efforts on behalf of the Teanaway Community Forest, including:

  • Volunteers helped prepare the forest’s campgrounds for summer recreation by removing damaged picnic tables, cleaning out fire rings and picking up litter. In the fall, volunteers returned to remove litter and perform maintenance to prepare the campgrounds for winter. Overall, volunteers logged 268 hours of time in the community forest in 2014.
  • Crews repaired 11 miles of road in the forest, including a nearly 5-mile stretch of dirt road at the end of the Middle Teanaway Road, improving driving access to Indian Creek campground and three U.S. Forest Service trails. Work crews also replaced a culvert that was restricting the movement of fish in a tributary of Jungle Creek.
  • New informational kiosks were installed at three locations and hazardous trees were removed at campgrounds.

The DNR and WDFW would like to thank the members of the advisory committee and volunteers for their hard work and continued commitment to the Teanaway Community Forest throughout 2014. And, as we move into 2015 and management plan completion, we encourage you to become, or stay, involved via our e-newsletter or online resources!

Restoring our urban forests, one at a time

January 2, 2015
The City of Lacey works toward improving the health and functionality of their trees in urban settings. Photo: City of Lacey

The City of Lacey works toward improving the health and functionality of their trees in urban settings. Photo: City of Lacey

It starts in Lacey, Washington. This city is enhancing their urban forests by managing stormwater and improving air and water quality. They are doing this by improving the health and functionality of their trees and forested sites in urban settings.

Recently, the Lake Lois Habitat Reserve received a facelift. With the help of a Puget SoundCorps team and other volunteers, English ivy, Himalayan blackberry, spurge laurel, Scotch broom and Robert’s geranium were removed. These invasive non-native plants prevent forested areas from providing our community the full benefits and services of healthy forests by competing for water and nutrients, and in some cases even killing trees. Many undesirable plants that grow in dense thickets also harbor rats and other vermin, creating a public safety hazard as well. Now that the unwelcomed plants are gone, native vegetation will be planted in its place.

The Lacey Board of Park Commissioners approved the Forest Management Plan for Lake Lois Park and Lake Lois Habitat Reserve in September of 2012. Volunteers have been removing invasive plants and replanting those areas with native trees to implement the recommendations in the plan. Paul Royer, Chair of the Park Board states, “Many people are not aware of Lake Lois Habitat Reserve, but once they have been out to volunteer, they realize the importance of what they are doing and the difference it makes in the health of the forest.”

This project is an Urban Forestry Restoration Project, administered by the Washington State Department of Natural Resources’ (DNR) Urban and Community Forestry Program. For more information about the Urban Forestry Restoration Project, visit the project online or contact Micki McNaughton at (360) 902-1637 or micki.mcnaughton@dnr.wa.gov.

DNR’s Urban and Community Forestry Program is made possible through a partnership with the USDA Forest Service. Puget SoundCorps is part of the broader Washington Conservation Corps program, administered by Washington Dept. of Ecology. Puget SoundCorps crews work on projects that help restore and protect water quality in Puget Sound. The Washington Conservation Corps is supported through grant funding and education awards provided by AmeriCorps.

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Bah HumBUGs and disease are the problem in our forests

December 18, 2014
pine bark beetle

A pine bark beetle is the size of a grain of rice.

With milder winters, overstocked forests and past forest management practices, Washington’s forests are increasingly becoming a smorgasbord for tree-devouring insects.

The 2014 annual insect and disease aerial survey found that insects and disease killed more than 4 million trees on over 540,000 acres in Washington state.

About 143,000 acres of forestlands east of the Cascade Mountain Range showed especially high levels of pine tree death caused by pine bark beetles, an increase from the 107,000 acres reported in 2013.

You can now explore the latest aerial survey maps on the Department of Natural Resources’ interactive, web-based mapping site: Fire Prevention and Fuels Management Mapping. Click on the Forest Disturbance folder.

Aerial observers this year also identified nearly 740,000 trees across 30,000 eastern Washington acres that died as a result of 2012 wildfire damage or from the bark beetles that subsequently attacked damaged trees. Those numbers are well higher than typical.

Though damage from forest pests was down from historical norms in 2013 and 2014, the number of trees destroyed by insects in the last decade is unprecedented.

Widespread mortality caused by bark beetles and damage from defoliating insects is setting the stage for more wildfires. In some places, critical wildlife habitat is being destroyed.

Why? (more…)

Aspen: The “wow” tree of the mountains

December 17, 2014
aspen colors

There no shortage of vibrant color in fall where the aspen grows. Photo: Don Hanley.

Aspen (Populus tremuloides) is one of the most beautiful trees of the fall season in the West. Its bright yellow leaves and creamy white bark against a backdrop of blue sky makes walkers pause in their tracks. No other tree species casts its autumn spell as broadly as aspen. These distinctive trees can be found in almost every mountain vegetation zone across North America — from northern Canada and Alaska to the mountains of central Mexico. Worldwide, only the European aspen and Scotch pine have greater natural ranges.

But it’s not just about good looks: a healthy stand of aspen benefits wildlife, protects watersheds, and contributes to healthy forest ecosystems. Aspen leaves and buds are a favorite food for wildlife such as grouse and turkeys, particularly in the winter when insects and other food items are scarce. Aspen stands also are rich in forage for sheep and cattle — about ten times more forage than a similar-sized stand of conifer trees.

Learn more about the aspen and see great photos of these stunning trees in the latest issue of Forest Stewardship Notes, a free e-newsletter published online each quarter by DNR and Washington State University Forestry Extension.

Interested in getting an email alert when new issues of Forest Stewardship Notes are published? Sign up here. It’s free!

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DNR advises caution in aftermath of wind storm

December 12, 2014
Saturated soils and strong winds toppled this big tree.

Saturated soils and strong winds toppled this big tree.

Does your yard resemble a ‘war zone’ of downed trees and limbs after the recent wind storms that swept across much of Washington?

High winds and rain-saturated soils can lead to damage to even the healthiest of trees. If you’re lucky, the storm removed the weakest limbs from your trees, and all you need to do now is prune and clean up debris.

If your tree suffered more than a little damage, you may need help. The Arbor Day Foundation has some excellent tree recovery tips.

Whatever you do, please don’t top your trees! There are much better ways to deal with damaged trees. Arborists and plant scientists agree that tree topping is bad tree management practice.

Topping is severely cutting and removing large branches in a mature tree. Trees cut back indiscriminately will respond by quickly growing multiple branch-like shoots that compete for dominance. The result is a bushy re-growth that will be the same size as the tree’s original height, but with weaker branches.

As shoots increase in weight, the branches of a topped tree become susceptible to breaking off during storms. They must be continually pruned to avoid potentially hazardous branch failures. Rather than creating a safer tree, topping can actually create a greater hazard.

The best answer is to consult a certified arborist for any tree care.

Certified arborists and other legitimate landscape professionals do not practice tree topping. If problems caused by a tree cannot be solved through acceptable management practices, the tree should be removed and replaced with a different tree or plant more appropriate for the site. (more…)


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