Archive for the ‘Urban & Community Forestry’ Category

Remove the 3 D’s from your trees; learn what, when and how to prune

February 8, 2016
This is a screen shot from the National Arbor Day Foundation website on how to prune trees properly and when.

This is a screen shot from the National Arbor Day Foundation website on how to prune trees properly and when.

Are your trees looking straggly, growing and spreading out aimlessly? Before you prune a tree, be sure you’re pruning at the right time of year.

A blog from the National Association of State Foresters says that trees are dormant through early March. This is true in some cases, but it’s important to check for the appropriate time of year to prune the specific type of tree you own.

Meanwhile, now is a good time to remove those dead, diseased, and damaged branches (the 3 D’s). These problem branches can cost more money and cause more maintenance headaches if not cared for right away. You also may want to remove branches that cross and rub against each other when the appropriate time comes to prune that tree. Whatever you do, prune no more than 25 percent of your tree’s canopy in any one year.

What are we talking about specifically? DNR recommends two resources to help you decide what to prune, when to prune, and how to prune:

If you have a tree that can be pruned now, the wound from pruning will rapidly close just before new growth emerges. Also, prune trees while they’re young to help avoid expensive tree care later.

See what other resources DNR’s Urban and Community Forestry Program has to offer.

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2015 Spokane Windstorm: aftermath and next steps

January 21, 2016
A downed ponderosa pine in Spokane results in power outage and street closure. Photo by Jim Flott

A downed ponderosa pine in Spokane results in power outage and street closure. Photo by Jim Flott

The windstorm that impacted Spokane and the surrounding region on Tuesday, November 17, 2015, will go down in the record books. Winds gusted up to 71 miles per hour in Spokane according to AccuWeather.com. The Greater Spokane Department of Emergency Management issued a “Shelter in Place” bulletin around 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday. Two people in Spokane were killed in separate incidents involving trees being thrown in the wind.  Governor Jay Inslee declared a state of emergency the next day.

The wind was responsible for about 70 percent of Avista (the largest regional electrical utility) customers losing power at some point during the storm. Avista officials said this was the largest outage in company history surpassing the ice storm of 1996. Parts of Spokane looked like a war zone with trees lying in the roads and on buildings. The damage was severe enough to keep some schools and businesses closed until after Thanksgiving.

Angel Spell, Spokane Urban Forester, reported to the Spokane Tree Committee that an estimated 1,900 trees managed by the City were lost, 500 of those were in parks, the rest were on rights-of-way and other city owned property. The appraised value for these trees was approximately $22 million.

At a time like this, a tree professional’s thoughts first go to removing any risk associated with trees as a result of the windstorm and cleaning up the mess. Then, a true professional will try to convince people that healthy, structurally sound trees should not be removed as a knee jerk reaction to the storm.

Jim Flott, local consulting arborist said “Wind speed was the only quantifiable variable.” He observed that soil failures were responsible for a majority of downed trees. He is encouraging people not to overreact and to have their trees assessed by a qualified ISA Arborist with tree risk assessment experience. Flott also promotes a positive message about trees going forward, referring to the fact that only a very small fraction of the tree population failed and that vast majority of the tree population withstood the test of the storm.

A Wind Storm Workshop is planned for March 11 at the Spokane Conservation District.  Representatives from Avista, the City of Spokane, commercial arborists, Washington DNR, and consulting arborists will summarize impacts from the storm and discuss best practices moving forward.  You can register for the event at www.spokaneconservation.org.

For additional information about this storm, be sure to check out this article published by the Spokesman-Review on December 25, 2015.

This article written and submitted by Garth Davis, Forestry Program Manager, Spokane Conservation District.

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Funding opportunity for restoring forest landscapes; deadline February 29

January 19, 2016
Keep urban forests in your community healthy

Keep urban forests in your community healthy. Photo: Guy Kramer

DNR is looking for projects that will help protect and restore forests across the diverse landscapes of Washington.

Working together with the U.S. Forest Service, DNR is seeking forestland restoration grant proposals for a program called Landscape Scale Restoration Competitive Grant Process (LSR). Forestland restoration projects can include rural, wildland, and urban areas.

LSR projects cross boundaries to affect any combination of federal, state, tribal, county, municipal, or private lands. For example, a riparian habitat restoration project might affect the entire length of a waterway that passes through lands which are owned and managed by different agencies, organizations, or individuals.

Eastern Washington forest

An overstocked forest in eastern Washington. Photo: DNR

Because of the funding competition, DNR wants to submit the best and most important projects that benefit the bigger goal of healthy forests.

We ask that potential partners submit letters of interest to DNR and collaborate with us to develop Landscape Scale Restoration Competitive Grant proposals that meet the national priorities.

Here is the Request for Proposal for LSR projects.

Letters of interest are due by February 29 at 4:30 p.m. (PST) and need to be submitted to:

Jonathan Guzzo
WA State Dept. of Natural Resources
1111 Washington Street SE
MS 47037
Olympia, WA  98504-7037

Funding for these projects comes from the U.S. Forest Service State and Private Forestry branch to address forest conservation, protection, and enhancement needs in priority areas identified within Washington’s Forest Action Plan.

The benefits of our forests are vast. Not only are they home to countless wildlife species, they keep our drinking water clean, control flooding, purify our air, and enhance community livability.

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Winter tree tips

December 30, 2015
Red oak tree

This handsome red oak tree is well suited for it location along a residential street in Snoqualmie. Photo: DNR

It’s cold and flu season and a time to take especially good care of ourselves. A doctor may ask about your eating, sleeping and exercise habits, or question you about preventative care measures, such as flu shots or vitamins. Proactive care makes us less susceptible to bugs and other circumstances that make us sick.

So what about your trees? Winter is challenging for trees as well, and the same advice applies to ensure that they are healthy and can withstand the stresses of the season. Here are some simple tips for preventative care of your trees to boost their health and decrease susceptibility to insects and diseases, storms, and winter damage.

  • Watering. Our summers have been hotter and drier than normal, resulting in chronic drought stress for many landscape trees. Watering can be just as effective in the winter as it is in the summer. If the ground isn’t frozen then trees will still benefit from winter watering. The Tri-Cities’ Washington State University Extension Horticulturalist, Marianne Ophardt offers this helpful winter watering advice.
  • Mulching. Mulching is perhaps one the best, most cost-effective preventative treatments for trees. Mulch helps regulate soil temperatures, retain soil moisture, reduce soil compaction, reduce competition from other plants, improve soil structure and fertility, and is a physical barrier that discourages damage from lawn maintenance equipment. Best of all it is cheap, especially if you’re mulching with recycled wood chips. Many tree service providers are happy to deliver loads of wood chips to your yard for free. Read more about mulch from the Morton Arboretum.
  • Structural Pruning.  A little light pruning when your tree is young can go a long way toward preventing the development of structural defects and mitigating future storm damage. It’s like teaching your tree to behave properly when it’s little so it can grow up to be a fine, upstanding adult–but you need to know what limbs to prune and why. Read more about structural pruning from the Barlett Research Lab.
  • Regular Inspections by a Professional. Think about this like getting a check-up from your doctor. Having an ISA Certified Arborist or other qualified tree professional inspect your trees on a 3-5 basis, and after storms, can alert you to specific tree problems or potential issues of concern. It is easier, safer and less expensive to deal with tree-related problems before the next storm rolls through. Learn more about hiring an arborist.

The old adage says “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. We hold this to be true for our own well-being, so let’s extend the same courtesy to our trees.

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

December 15, 2015
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. Trees don’t need snow on them to become hazardous.
PHOTO Dena Scroggie/DNR

Winter weather can mean chilly temperatures, freezing winds, and snow 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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Dec. 18 deadline fast approaching; apply now for your 2016 urban & community forestry grants

December 1, 2015
With a grant from DNR’s Urban and Community Forestry Program, the City of Tacoma’s Hilltop neighborhood planted trees in celebration of Arbor Day.

With a grant from DNR’s Urban and Community Forestry Program, the City of Tacoma’s Hilltop neighborhood planted trees in celebration of Arbor Day.

DNRs Urban and Community Forestry Program is pleased to announce our grants for 2016. There are three big changes to the grants this year – we have increased the total amount of dollars that can be requested by applicants, the grant applications are now in fill-able .pdf forms that can be downloaded from our website, and applicants have the option to submit their grant proposals electronically by email.

In previous years, our grants had open narrative where applicants were asked to describe their project within a five-page limit. However, the new fill-able forms are pre-formatted with a series of questions which applicants are required to answer within the spaces provided.

This year’s grants are available in three categories:

  • Community Forestry Assistance (CFA) Grants (download the RFP and Grant Application)
    • Acceptable projects should focus on urban forestry program development or innovative programs that educate staff, the public and decision-makers about the benefits of trees and/or proper tree care and management. Examples include but are not limited to: developing urban forestry management plans, tree ordinances, policy manuals, tree canopy analyses, website development, and curriculum development. Match (in-kind or financial) is required.
  • Tree Inventory Grants (download the RFP and Grant Application)
    • Tree inventories are a critical tool for urban forest management. A public tree inventory will be performed on behalf of successful applicant communities by a qualified consultant through a contractual agreement with DNR. No money changes hands, however, a Memorandum of Understanding between DNR and successful applicants is required. Successful communities must provide a report that describes an expected course of action toward community forest management within one year of receiving the inventory data.
  • Tree Planting Grants (download the RFP and Grant Application)
    • These grants are only available to communities who have earned the Tree City USA Award, as this designation is a minimum measure of cities’ capacity, expertise, and commitment to ensure that trees are properly planted and cared for. A 3-year maintenance plan and planting inspections by an ISA Certified Arborist are required. Match (in-kind or financial) is required.

The Community Forestry Assistance and Tree Inventory Grants are available to tribal governments, educational institutions, 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations and local governments such as cities, towns, and counties in Washington state. The Tree City USA Tree Planting Grants are only available to Washington cities and towns that have earned the Tree City USA Award, or to communities that are actively pursuing the Tree City USA designation and intend to apply for Tree City USA status in December 2015.

Grants are due by 4:00 PM on Friday, December 18, 2015. Please contact the grant coordinator, Linden Lampman at 360-902-1703 or linden.lampman@dnr.wa.gov for any questions about the 2016 applications.

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Be prepared for storm-damaged trees; five tips to stay safe and five more to ensure proper care

November 11, 2015
Wind can damage even young trees if they are not planted, pruned nor cared for properly. Photo Janet Pearce/DNR

Wind can damage even young trees if they are not planted, pruned nor cared for properly. Photo Janet Pearce/DNR

Homeowners have two good reasons for caution as fall storms encroach your property. Beware of residual hazards from storm-damaged trees, and roving “tree cutters” who may not have the best interests of you and your trees in mind.

Five 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 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, be wary of approaches from unskilled “tree cutters.” 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.

Five 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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Green jobs benefit early career workers in Washington

November 3, 2015
WCC crew

WCC crews participate in a variety of projects, including installing sign holders for different state agencies. Photo: DNR

A recent research project evaluated stress-recovery and personal effectiveness for young people who work in conservation jobs.  The research project explored how an outdoor work environment (including urban forest settings) may serve as a path to personal resiliency (through job opportunities, peer engagement, and skill building) and provide healing opportunities.

 

Washington Conservation Corps (WCC) is an environmental service program for young adults supported by the federal AmeriCorps service program. Corps members are 18 to 25 years of age, and participate in service work in small crews to restore natural resource sites. WCC engages approximately 300 people each year, a minority of whom are veterans. This study followed a cohort of approximately 270 WCC members who served for a year from autumn 2013 to autumn 2014.

 

The study was funded by the USDA Forest Service and Washington State Department of Natural Resources, with collaboration by the Washington State Department of Ecology. Dr. Kathleen Wolf from the University of Washington and Elizabeth Housley from OurFutureEnvironment Consulting LLC conducted the study.

 

Overall, the corps members entered the work program in quite good health compared to national standards, and yet research results show their perceived stress was further reduced after a year’s service. Returning second year members reported better perceived health and higher perceived leadership ability compared to new members.

 

Employment by organizations such as WCC can engage veterans and other early career adults in a socio-ecological projects where the benefits of nature experiences are coupled with opportunities to exhibit mastery, recover from stress and anxiety, and gain other positive markers of personal resiliency.

 

One possible outcome of this study might be to introduce outdoor work as a therapeutic activity for young adults, including younger veterans. If so, careful planning of work tasks to align with more diverse physical abilities would be important.

 

The technical report or a two page results summary  are available online. Or visit the Green Cities: Good Health web site for more information about the social and human health benefits of nature in cities.

 

This article was reprinted as it originally appeared in DNR’s Tree Link Newsletter.

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Wood for good

October 22, 2015
This curio shelf is made from urban waste wood donated by the City of Olympia Photo Janet Pearce/DNR

This curio shelf is made from urban waste wood donated by the city of Olympia. Photo Janet Pearce/DNR

Waste not, want not. Sometimes urban trees need to be removed due to poor health, damage, or development activities. In the past, this urban waste wood was often sent to landfills. In better situations, it’s repurposed for ‘low-end’ uses, such as mulch or firewood. Yet, the Cedar Creek Corrections Center’s sawmill and carpentry shop is taking this resource to an even greater level and turning out high-end reuse products – good news for urban ‘waste’ wood and our communities.

Thanks to special project funding through the USDA Forest Service, and in partnership with Cedar Creek Corrections Center, DNR’s Urban and Community Forestry Program is able to show how to put urban wood to good use. With a portable sawmill, a drying room, and a carpentry shop, Cedar Creek has turned urban waste wood into beautiful bowls, boxes and benches. Some of these beautifully crafted products are returned to wood donors while others are donated to non-for-profit charitable organizations, or schools.

The Urban Wood Utilization Project promotes the use of urban waste wood resources for their highest and best use while developing viable job skills for minimum security prison inmates.

Offenders at Cedar Creek, and other correction centers across the state, play a critical role helping to fight summer wildfires. In the off-season, programs such as the Cedar Creek carpentry program provide additional opportunities for crews to earn modest funds to help support them upon release, and continue developing marketable green-collar experience.

Who donates urban waste wood?

Anyone! Here are a couple of examples:

A few years ago, the city of Olympia created a long-term plan to remove and replace several oak trees from Legion Way. These trees had had their tops cut off, a detrimental practice called topping, and the branches that grew back were weak and likely to break, especially during a storm. The city donated the wood to Cedar Creek’s urban wood project where it was crafted into a park bench and stools for Arbutus Folk School’s ceramics program.

A couple of years ago several black locust trees at 11th Street in Olympia were growing into electric wires after having been topped. When the state’s Department of Enterprise Services had to remove them, they donated the urban waste wood to Cedar Creek. Cedar Creek’s shop used the wood to build a bench and make decorative and functional bowls.

To make an urban waste wood donation, contact DNR at urban_forestry@dnr.wa.gov.

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Commissioner Goldmark presents tree care honors to City of Seattle

October 19, 2015
Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark and Seattle Mayor Ed Murray plant an Incense Cedar tree at Seattle’s Arbor Day event on Saturday, October 17.  Photo Linden Lampman/DNR

Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark and Seattle Mayor Ed Murray plant an Incense Cedar tree at Seattle’s Arbor Day event on Saturday, October 17. Photo Linden Lampman/DNR

In celebration of Urban and Community Forestry Month, Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark presented Tree City recognition to Seattle Mayor Ed Murray at Seattle’s annual Arbor Day celebration. Seattle hit their 30th Tree City USA anniversary at the Saturday, October 17, 2015 event.

The Tree City USA Program has been greening up cities across the US since 1976. It’s a nationwide movement that provides the framework necessary for communities to manage and expand their public trees. The award is given annually to cities that meet Tree City USA standards (have a Tree Board, a tree ordinance for public trees, a community forestry program, and an Arbor Day observance and proclamation).

Of the 86 Tree City USA communities in Washington, only Ellensburg and Longview have been in the program longer than Seattle, with 32 and 31 impressive years respectively.

Seattle also received its 19th Tree City Growth Award. The Tree City USA Growth Award is awarded by the Arbor Day Foundation to recognize higher levels of tree care by participating Tree City USA communities. The Growth Award highlights innovative programs and projects as well as an increased commitment of resources for urban forestry. It also highlights new ideas and successes across the country.

Commissioner Goldmark also recognized Seattle City Light for their 2nd year as a Tree Line USA utility. DNR recognizes utility companies as Tree Line USA utilities when they commit to healthy tree care and maintenance, tree worker training programs, and community tree planting.

Trees and utility lines can come into conflict, but with careful planning of where new trees are planted and more attention to proper tree care, there’s no reason they cannot co-exist. The Tree Line Program recognizes best practices in public and private utility arboriculture, demonstrating how trees and utilities can exist side-by-side for the benefit of communities and citizens.

For more information on proper tree care, contact DNR’s Urban and Community Forestry Program.

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