Posts Tagged ‘urban forestry’

It makes cents to train your trees

January 16, 2013
This tree was definitely whacked with a tree trimmer. PHOTO BY: Community Canopy

This tree was definitely whacked with a tree trimmer. PHOTO BY: Community Canopy

A story recently came across the urban forestry desk, titled “An Urban Forest in Peril.” It seems that the Lexington, Kentucky urban forest is in serious trouble. Lexington’s treescape has been declining over the past decade. Culprits include insects, disease and climate change. But, mostly, we are to blame. Lexington is not alone.

Have you noticed a decline of trees in your community? Many urban forests throughout the nation are in serious trouble. Even as well-meaning citizens and politicians in our municipalities are committed to and are planting trees, there often follows a shocking amount of tree mortality.

Unfortunately, money spent to plant and maintain trees in parks and on street rights-of-way, is also spent to pay people to destroy those trees. What? How is that possible?    (more…)

Urban forestry project creates jobs

October 26, 2012
Volunteers pull English ivy
DNR-managed projects can provide jobs and supplement the efforts of volunteers—seen here pulling invasive English ivy—to help restore and improve urban forests in Washington state. Photo: DNR

The Urban Forestry Restoration Project is an exciting opportunity for communities to improve the health of our urban forests in the Puget Sound Basin and southwest Washington. The project helps communities improve the health and functionality of trees which, in turn, enhances the ability of urban forests to manage stormwater, improve water quality, and store carbon.

DNR is providing assistance to local governments that want to improve the health of their urban forests. The project is starting in Clark, King, and Pierce counties–other cities or counties may also apply for the same types of projects.

DNR’s Urban and Community Forestry Program will provide crews from Washington Conservation Corps (WCC) and Puget SoundCorps to assist city and county governments with urban forestry activities that help restore urban forests. Projects will be developed collaboratively with Puget Sound Basin communities and ranked according to the measurable benefits to water quality and Puget Sound restoration.

Cities, towns, and other counties in the Puget Sound Basin and southwest Washington may apply for project assistance on a first-come, first-served basis until December 31, 2012, or until the time of the three available crews’ is fully committed, whichever comes first. DNR administers the project and provides the crews.

Activities in the projects may include:

  • Control of non-native, invasive plants that out-compete native plant species or interfere with proper ecological function,
  • Planting native vegetation in natural areas or open spaces to enhance ecosystem function,
  • Expansion of urban canopy cover by planting trees according to existing community plans,
  • Structural training of young trees on developed sites for improved tree soundness and public safety, or
  • Other maintenance and management actions that benefit the health of urban trees.

Local partners must supply the materials and additional services required for their projects. These include:

  • All permits necessary for the project work,
  • Plants for revegetation or tree-planting,
  • Herbicides for invasive plant control, if necessary,
  • Disposal of plants and other materials removed during restoration activities, and
  • Other materials necessary for project completion.

All projects must be completed by June 30, 2013. For more information, visit the Urban Forestry Restoration Project online, send an email to Micki McNaughton or call her at (360) 902-1637.

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DNR weekend reading: Light pollution, native plant landscaping, urban forests and nanotube toxicity to aquatic animals

August 25, 2012
Diamond Butte Fire

DNR crews on the Diamond Butte Fire in Yakima County. While not large in size, the fire is considered dangerous because it threatens to enter a heavily timbered area of the Ahtanum State Forest where there are many dead and downed trees . Photo: WIIMT-1.

There’s lots to read in this weekend’s installment of DNR Weekend Reading, including links to recently published articles and studies from science journals, blogs and websites:

Scientific American: Glare-Raising: How Much Energy Does Excessive Nighttime Lighting Waste?
The federally funded National Optical Astronomy Observatory reports that poorly-aimed, unshielded outdoor lights waste $2 billion (17 kilowatt-hours) of energy in the U.S. each year. According to the McDonald Observatory’s Dark Skies Initiative (DSI), the solution to light pollution is 90 percent education and 10 percent technology.

National Science Foundation: Native Plants in Urban Yards Offer Birds “Mini-Refuges”
Yards with plants that mimic native vegetation offer birds “mini-refuges” and help to offset losses of biodiversity in cities, according to results of a study published in the journal PLOS ONE. “Native” yards support birds better than those with traditional grass lawns and non-native plantings.

US Forest Service–Northern Research Station: Natural Regeneration Building Urban Forests, Altering Species Composition
A study by U.S. Forest Service scientists published recently in Urban Forestry and Urban Greening suggests that natural regeneration may be the most cost-effective means to attain desired tree cover levels and associated ecosystem services in forested regions, but relying on natural regeneration may alter the tree species making up a given forest.

University of Missouri: Super-Strong, High-Tech Material Found to be Toxic to Aquatic Animals by Researchers at MU and USGS
Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) have potential uses in everything from medicine to electronics to construction. However, CNTs are not without risks. A new study found that they can be toxic to aquatic animals. The researchers urge that care be taken to prevent the release of CNTs into the environment as the materials enter mass production.

University of Maryland: Half of the Particulate Pollution in North America Comes from Other Continents
Roughly half the aerosols that affect air quality and climate change in North America may be coming from other continents, including Asia, Africa and Europe, according to a new study. The study suggests there are more factors affecting domestic pollution than the Environmental Protection Agency has accounted for.

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Salmon don’t swim through urban forests, do they?

July 27, 2012
Trees cool the river for salmon Photo by Guy Kramer

Trees cool the river for salmon Photo by Guy Kramer

Salmon do swim through urban forests…that is, if there’s a salmon-bearing stream running through it. And students are gaining knowledge as to why trees are so important to salmon thanks to an organization called Sound Salmon Solutions.

Sound Salmon Solutions has good information for educators (including lesson plans) to educate students about the economic, environmental, psychological, and aesthetic benefits of urban forests. Kids learn to connect the importance of urban forests to life of salmon.

Sound Salmon Solutions has a curriculum, Tree Connections, which educates students about the importance of urban forests. The students visit a city-owned park with both an urban forest and a salmon-bearing stream where they test water quality and make their own plant guides.

The students use GPS units to create maps and accurate recordings of where trees are located in the park. Their science teachers then share the information with that park’s city staff to keep on hand for future reference.

DNR has awarded several grants in past years for Sound Salmon Solutions to provide environmental education programs to kids in the Arlington and Marysville area. 

Some funding is provided by the U.S. Forest Service, which is administered through the Washington State Department of Natural Resources’ Urban and Community Forestry Program.


Cities, take note: Green infrastructure saves $$$!

July 24, 2012
urban forests

Urban forests grows tunnel over walkway and provide green infrastructure. photo by DNR

Is your city looking to reduce overall costs of treating water, cooling the urban environment, and improving air quality? Trees are the answer!

Trees are “green infrastructure” that can save municipalities money. There are many different ways to utilize existing wilderness, construct man-made – or engineered – landscapes, and develop innovative stormwater design to reduce overall costs of treating water, cooling our urban environment, improving air quality, and more.

Alliance for Community Trees (ACT) posted an article on its website detailing a recent study by American Rivers, American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA), ECONorthwest, and the Water Environment Federation that looks at the potential benefits and savings.

Learn more about green infrastructure on the EPA website.

You can read the full report (“Banking on Green”) on the ASLA website.

For a great example of how green infrastructure can be applied, take a look at the City of Spokane’s SURGE (Spokane Urban Runoff Greenways Ecosystem) projects. Another example is Yakima’s recently released Low Impact Development Stormwater Design Manual.

 See what DNR has to offer for urban and community forests.

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Summer tree care: How to help your new tree through the warm months

July 17, 2012
Susan Pierce, Trees Atlanta, published July 7, 2011)

That nice little tree you planted last year is going to need special care now that summer is here. There’s an 18 percent mortality rate for newly planted trees, which points out the need to keep paying attention to your investment.

Here are some dos and don’ts for summer care:

  • Avoid under-watering. Supply extra water to a tree for the first three years after transplanting. Soak the soil with a slow trickle of water to the depth of the roots – from 1 to 3 feet – at least once a week; more often in hot, dry weather. This equals a minimum of about 5 gallons per inch of tree trunk diameter.
  • Don’t over-water. Tree roots need oxygen. If they are standing in water, they can actually “drown” for lack of oxygen.
  • Watch weed whips and lawn mowers: The thin bark of young trees can be easily damaged. This damage hurts the tree’s ability to get the nutrients it needs to grow.
  • Prune carefully: Over-pruning reduces a tree’s ability to get energy, and can encourage insect or disease problems.
  • Don’t pile mulch against the trunk — it causes rot. Keep mulch at least 6” away from the trunk.
  • Don’t stake too tightly — it can strangle your tree.
  • Be careful with herbicides. Avoid ’weed & feed’ formulations around trees because they can slow growth.

Take a look at our video “Top Tree Killers to Avoid,” for tips on nurturing and protecting the trees on your property.

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Got a great photo? US Forest Service contest seeks your coolest photos of city forests

July 16, 2012
Washington Capitol Campus East November 2011

The sun breaks through morning mist and autumn leaves on a chilly November morning near the Washington State Capitol in Olympia. Photo: Bob Redling.

If you count up all the trees lining our streets, shading our homes and parks, and bursting with greenery, this urban forest comes to about 100 million acres nationwide. And this forest offers more than good looks. Urban and community trees clean our air and help prevent flooding.

The US Forest Service is celebrating these ‘hardest working trees in America’ with a national photo contest. But hurry, the contest deadline is this Sunday (July 22). Take a picture of your neighborhood forest, send it in, and you might just win some cool prizes from the National Forest Foundation.

See complete rules (and there are several) and other details (and there are several) about entering the My Neighborhood Forest Photo Contest sponsored by the National Forest Foundation and the US Forest Service.

Urban and community forests include urban parks, street trees, landscaped boulevards, public gardens, river and coastal promenades, greenways, river corridors, wetlands, nature preserves, natural areas, and shelter belts of trees. The deadline for submission is 2 pm (PDT), July 22

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It’s official: Renton is a ‘Tree City USA’

May 8, 2012
Renton is a Tree City USA

State Forester Aaron Everett (left) presents Tree City USA honors to the City of Renton for its healthy urban forests. Accepting on behalf of the City are Terry Flatley (City Forester), and Mayor Denis Law (right). Photo: City of Renton.

On Saturday, April 28, Washington State Forester Aaron Everett presented the City of Renton with its fourth Tree City USA Award. Mayor Denis Law received the award at the city’s seventh annual Arbor Day-Earth Day Celebration.

Following the awards ceremony, 127 volunteers planted 66 trees (including 62 street trees) at 55 houses in Renton. Residents of North Renton Neighborhood who opted to have to one of the trees planted were able to select from a list of 14 tree species. The process means that instead of a monoculture of one species, there can be greater diversity in the city’s urban forest. 

With so many volunteers coming out to help, the plantings took about 90 minutes. If you’re in the North Renton area, take a look around for newly planted trees. The benefits from these trees will keep on giving to the City of Renton.

The project was made possible by a Community Forestry Assistance Grant from the U. S. Forest Service. This grant program is administered by DNR’s Urban and Community Forestry Program.

Find out if your city is a Tree City USA.

Commissioner Goldmark presents tree care honors to Avista Utilities at Spokane Arbor Day celebration

April 27, 2012
Spokane Arbor Day event

Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark at an Arbor Day event in Spokane today (Friday, April 27) with representatives of Avista Utilities, which became the 10th utility in Washington State recognized in the Tree Line USA Program for best practices in tree care. Photo: Bryan Flint/DNR.

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.  In other words, we like trees and we like people and companies who like trees, too.

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. See a list of the 10 utility companies in Washington State already recognized for their commitment for healthy trees.

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

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Trees are nature’s miracle

April 16, 2012
Trees line streets

Street in Snohomish County. Photo: Guy Kramer.

In the spirit of Arbor Day (which is also observed throughout the month of April), take a few minutes to pay special attention to the trees in our world.

In a recent guest editorial in the New York Times, Jim Robbins covers the intricate ins-and-outs of trees and their benefits. The benefits are often not obvious, but, you can learn about many of them in Robbins’ editorial.

He describes photosynthesis in an insightful way. Trees turn sunlight into food for insects, wildlife and people; they supply wood for fuel, furniture and homes; and they provide beauty for all of us. Now is the time to devote attention to the health of our tress that benefits us all.

In Western Washington, since the 1980s, about 17 percent of forests have been converted to development or other uses. As Robbins writes, an old proverb seems appropriate: “When is the best time to plant a tree?” The answer: “Twenty years ago. The second-best time? Today.”

There are surprising benefits from all types of trees. You can learn more about them through the Trees Are Good website. The Washington State Urban and Community Forestry Program is a source for information, including technical, educational and financial assistance sources, for Washington’s cities, town, counties and non-profit organizations.

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