DEC Encourages Public to Promote Arbor Day with Personal Artwork

2016 winning Arbor Day poster photograph

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) encourages the public to celebrate Arbor Day 2017 with their own personal artwork. The Arbor Day Planning Committee is accepting original art and photography submissions to be selected as the New York State Arbor Day Poster. DEC will be accepting them on behalf of the committee through December 31, 2016.

Send your artwork to after visiting the Promote Arbor Day with Your Artwork web page on DEC’s website. The winning artist is honored at the annual NYS Arbor Day celebration, which is the last Friday in April.

The Arbor Day Committee includes DEC, Empire State Forest Foundation, NYS Arborist Association, NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets, NYS Nursery and Landscape Association and the International Paper Company.

“Trees play a vital role in the lives of New Yorkers and are a fundamental part of our ecosystem, whether someone is tapping a maple tree in early spring or relaxing in the shade of a tree on a hot summer day, trees are integral to our quality of life,” DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said.

“It is important to celebrate Arbor Day throughout the year and highlight the importance of trees to our health, our environment, and our economy,” said Department of Agriculture and Markets Commissioner Richard A. Ball.

The winning artwork will be replicated as the official 2017 New York State Arbor Day Poster and distributed at schools, libraries, government offices, nursery and landscaping businesses, and environmental organizations throughout the State. NYSDEC will print 100,000 posters for distribution to the 3,500 NYS schools, the NYS Fair, and other venues. To get past NYS Arbor Day posters, contact your local DEC forestry office or call 518-402-9425.

From Scottsville to Long Beach: Urban Forest Master Plans, Management Plans, and Reports

State Urban Forestry Program Coordinator Mary Kramarchyk was impressed by the Scottsville Plan of 2014. She says, “The Scottsville plan was funded by the urban forestry grant from the Environmental Protection Fund. What I like about it is the clear outline of goals and objectives by year. Not only does the writer touch on the needs of the community forest but he or she outlines how to get there by identifying practical steps to manage and finance the activities needed for a well-managed urban forest.”

The Council is creating a compendium of urban forest master plans, management plans, and reports. Look to these when crafting your community’s first or updated Plan … and when you do have yours in place, kindly send it our way! We’ll add it to this growing collection of fine templates from around our state.

Note: NYS EPF (aka Cost-Share) Urban Forestry grant funds are available for management plans or master plans, provided these plans include a specific work schedule made up of goals, tasks, and a timeline.

Long Beach
NYC by Neighborhood
Saratoga Springs

You can see a more in-depth blog post about Ithaca’s Master Plan here, a post about Rochester’s Plan here, and a post about the recently released Syracuse State of the Urban Forest Report here.

How do urban forest master plans (aka strategic plans) differ from urban forest management plans? From “A Technical Guide to Developing Urban Forestry Strategic Plans & Urban Forestry Management Plans” by Wisconsin DNR Division of Forestry, 2011:


Getting to Know CCE Educator Vinnie Drzewucki

Vinnie Drzewucki and his wife traveled to Israel in 2015. The Sea of Galilee and Golan Heights are in the background.
Vinnie Drzewucki traveled to Israel in 2015. The Sea of Galilee and Golan Heights are in the background.

CCE Nassau County Horticulture and Urban and Community Forestry Resource Educator Vinnie Drzewucki (pronounced “Shavootski”) has served on the Council Board for two years.

Can you tell us about your childhood influences that foreshadowed getting interested in horticulture and urban forestry?
Vinnie Drzewucki: From a young age I was fascinated by plants. I think it was being around my father and grandmother who were always growing something and caring for their gardens and houseplants. My earliest memories are filled with being with them in their gardens and surrounded by flowers, fruits, vegetables, trees, and shrubs.

vinnie-photoIn school we learned that trees grow from seeds and so I began to collect and sow tree seeds everywhere. Some, to my surprise, did grow and I wonder if they are around today producing seeds of their own. When I was old enough to get my first library card, one of the first books I checked out was a book about trees because I wanted to know all I could about how trees grow. I was amazed that trees could provide a vast assortment of useful products like fruits and nuts to eat and wood for building and making things.

Back then, news about air and water pollution and deforestation was frequently in the media and often discussed in class. It was the time when the US Environmental Protection Agency and New York State Department of Environment Conservation were being formed, the Clean Water Act was amended, and the Clean Air Act was established. I suppose my interest in trees and their importance in the environment began way back then.

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Syracuse 2016 State of the Urban Forest

What is the state of Syracuse’s urban forest in 2016? Photos Courtesy City of Syracuse
Syracuse City Arborist & NYSUFC Secretary Steve Harris

City Arborist Steve Harris of the Syracuse Parks Department—who also serves as our Council’s secretary—is pleased to share the release of the 2016 State of the Urban Forest for the City of Syracuse. Steve is an ISA Certified Arborist and Municipal Specialist and in addition to being active in the NYSUFC is involved with the Society of Municipal Arborists. He has been Syracuse City Arborist since 2010.

The 2001 Syracuse Urban Forest Master Plan was one of the first of its kind. The impetus for that report was to lay the groundwork for a focused response to the devastation caused by the Labor Day Storm of 1998. The US Forest Service Northern Research Station (USFS) and Cornell Cooperative Extension of Onondaga County crafted that plan in cooperation with the City of Syracuse, Syracuse ReLeaf, and SUNY ESF.

Being the home of a world-class research institution (SUNY ESF) and a USFS Research Station dedicated to urban forest change has its benefits. Data gets collected. Beginning in 1999, the USFS established permanent plots in the City to monitor urban forest change. By urban forest, think all trees in the landscape no matter the ownership. Plots were most recently re-measured in 2014. In addition, the USFS worked with the University of Vermont Spatial Laboratory and SUNY ESF to complete an urban tree canopy (UTC) assessment of Syracuse in 2010. (UTC assessments use LIDAR and other spatial analysis tools to identify and measure tree canopy in the landscape.)

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Arbor Day Celebration 2016 in Otisville with Funding from Council

Gathering round the newly planted 'October Glory' red maple.
Gathering round the newly planted ‘October Glory’ red maple.

Village of Otisville Trustee and Park Commissioner Ike Palmer shared this account of his community’s planting and celebration in Veterans Memorial Park, funded in part by a NYSUFC Arbor Day grant.

Ike Palmer: First of all, I would like to thank the members of the NYSUFC Arbor Day Grant Committee for this generous grant and the opportunities it has afforded us for our Arbor Day event. Two new trees funded by the Council were planted: an ‘October Glory’ red maple and ‘Frans Fontaine’ European hornbeam. A blue spruce was donated by Rick and Linda Zgrodek in honor of the Otisville/Mount Hope Seniors. It’s Rick and Linda’s hope that the blue spruce will come to be used as the Village Christmas tree. Despite the dry summer, all three trees are faring well. 

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What is Soil Profile Rebuilding? Susan Day Explains.

This site is a good candidate for Soil Profile Rebuilding (SPR) because soil is compacted and has an impermeable layer that can likely be broken up by the backhoe subsoiling process. Note limestone gravel mixed in soil indicates pH will be high, which will not be altered by the rehabilitation process. Surface gravel should be removed if possible and underground infrastructure clearly marked. Photo by Susan D. Day

Drs. Susan Day and Nina Bassuk have collaborated on a variety of research projects in the urban forest, with a special focus on soil remediation. Susan Day is an associate professor in the Virginia Tech Departments of Forest Resources & Environmental Conservation and Horticulture, and longtime Council stalwart Nina Bassuk directs the Urban Horticulture Institute at Cornell.

Here, Susan Day summarizes her findings after ten years of researching Soil Profile Rebuilding (SPR), a technique that the urban forestry community will be hearing about! See also this post from 2014 about Nina Bassuk’s related soil amendment research.

Soil Profile Rebuilding: An Alternative to Soil Replacement

by Susan Downing Day

Urban foresters and their allies know poor soils can lead to an endless cycle of dieback and tree replacement. Even if trees do establish, growth can be underwhelming and tree health disappointing. Increasingly, project managers have been turning to soil replacement, where existing soils are excavated and removed and replaced with “recycled” or blended soils. These soils present their own challenges, however. For example, many imported blends rely on high sand contents to improve drainage, resulting in low water-holding capacity and drought stress for unirrigated plantings. Resulting sharp transitions in soil texture introduce the possibility of creating a “bath tub” effect in situations where it is impossible to replace all the soil and new soils are confined to the immediate vicinity of individual trees.

There is an alternative to soil replacement that is especially appropriate where there are extended open soil (unpaved) areas such as in street medians—soil rehabilitation. Soil rehabilitation can help restore important ecosystem functions such as stormwater transmission and vegetation support to existing native soils.

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Arbor Day Planting in Perry with Funding from Council

Volunteers prep to plant a weeping larch
Volunteers prep to plant a weeping larch in Perry’s Village Park on Arbor Day 2016.             Photos by Steve Townes 

The Village of Perry is another community that received Arbor Day 2016 funding through our Council in partnership with the DEC. Perry Tree Advisory Board Chair and Village Trustee Eleanor Jacobs sent in this report. 

Securing the NYSUFC Arbor Day Community Grant was the first major accomplishment of the recently formed Village of Perry Tree Advisory Board (TAB). The group’s excitement at this achievement can’t be over-emphasized.

To implement the grant, the TAB worked with Village Parks Director Renee Koziel to select locations in the Village park to plant nine trees. The TAB selected the varieties of ginkgo, weeping larch, and Japanese white pine—and Ms. Koziel bought these from the Village’s tree supplier. The goals were to diversify tree plantings in the Village park, fill in spaces where trees were lacking, and plan for the future where trees may have to be removed.

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Arbor Day 2016 Celebration in Pound Ridge

Carolynn Sears (Conservation and Tree Board) , Michael Kagan (Pound Ridge Land Conservancy), Susan Lee (Pound Ridge Garden Club), Bonnie Schwartz (Town Board), Gail Jankus (Planning), and Richard Lyman (Town Supervisor) admire one of the twin American Beeches planted near the Pound Ridge Town House on Arbor Day. Photo by Jody Sullivan

The 2016 Arbor Day celebration in Pound Ridge (pop: app 5100), a town in Westchester County, took place over several days. An Arbor Day grant from the NYSUFC in partnership with the NYSDEC funded the purchase of a 3.5″-caliper, 12-foot-tall American beech and an ID plaque to go with it.

Pound Ridge Conservation and Tree Board Chair Carrie Sears says, “One aspect of our celebration that I am particularly proud of is the collaboration between the Town, the local Garden Club, the Land Conservancy, and Bartlett Tree Experts. And the Pound Ridge Highway and Maintenance Department continued to water the trees throughout a very long, dry summer.”

In this post, Sears recounts the Town’s celebration:

Thank you for funding the Pound Ridge 2016 Arbor Day celebration, which promoted an urban forestry program in the community in many ways. Our celebration included four different events and the planting of five native dogwoods, two American beech trees, and over 100 seedlings from the NYSDEC Saratoga Tree Nursery in different locations in the community. It also included a hands-on workshop, “Your Land and Our Water: Computer Modeling of Local Watersheds,” which allowed participants to see how trees make a difference in watershed protection. 

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NYSUFC Partners with NYSDEC to Award Arbor Day Project Grants

Otisville, NY Garden Club members planted this red maple and other trees as part of the Village’s 2016 Arbor Day celebration, which was supported by an Arbor Day grant from the New York State Urban Forestry Council.   

Communities that are just getting their urban forestry programs up and running, take note of this grant opportunity! In future posts, we’ll highlight some of the 2016 celebrations from grant-recipient communities. Stay tuned to the TAKING ROOT monthly e-news to find out when the next round of Arbor Day grant applications opens for 2017 tree plantings/celebrations. 

From Brian Skinner, Council Vice President:

For the second year, the NYSUFC partnered with the NYSDEC in taking on the administrative and award mechanism for Arbor Day grants (previously known as “Quick Start” AD grants), providing up to $10,000 total in grant monies for communities to conduct 2016 Arbor Day tree planting programs and ceremonies.

Communities that apply and those that are successful are not burdened with the paper mountains, contracts, forms, times delays, etc. that are typical of the much larger State grants. These are Arbor Day grants of up to $1,000 per community to conduct a tree planting event. Since they are meant to assist communities just getting started in their urban forestry efforts, applicants cannot be an existing Tree City USA community or have an ordinance, master plan, or have gotten the grant previously. Simple, less paper, quick turn-around, 50% of your funds up front, simple documentation, only one or two people to deal with, questions answered quickly and directly … a grant writer’s dream!

In 2015, 12 communities from around the State applied, and because some did not request the full $1,000 for their AD projects, the Council was able to award all 12 communities a grant. Word of the simplicity, ease, and success of the process must have spread, because in 2016, 35 communities applied, making the Arbor Day project grants committee work much more difficult and challenging. Council volunteers reviewed the applications and associated documentation and narrowed down the applicants (very tough competition, by the way!), eventually selecting 13 communities to receive a part of the grant funding. Due to some leftover funding from last year and some additional outside funding that was made available for such programmed events, the committee was able to award over $11,400 in grant requests this year.

Our congratulations to all the communities that were selected for grants this year: the towns of Alden, Ellington, Naples, North Greenbush, Pound Ridge, and Unionvale; the villages of Dansville, Orchard Park, Otisville, Perry, and Tivoli; and Friends of Parish (Parish) and Friends of Washington Park (Troy). Please congratulate anyone you know from those communities on their success and continue to encourage other communities to apply next year. And don’t forget to thank the DEC for partnering with the Council for this! Little steps such as this encourage participating communities to look at their trees now with a goal of becoming an Arbor Day Foundation Tree City USA, which in itself has a whole different set of requirements … and we know they’re all up to that challenge.



Support Lori Brockelbank’s Fourth Tour des Trees to Benefit the TREE Fund

Lori Brockelbank (second from left) with fellow NYS riders.
Lori Brockelbank (second from left) with fellow NYS riders. Photo by R. Jeanette Martin

October 9-15, 2016, cyclists will experience a week of unforgettable scenery, cycling and camaraderie as the Tour des Trees rolls through the Piedmont region of North and South Carolina, starting and ending in Charlotte, NC. 

Tree plantings and community engagement are hallmarks of every Tour, and Professor Elwood Pricklethorn (aka Toronto arborist and veteran Tour cyclist Warren Hoselton) provides educational programs for young audiences along the way. The Tour also adds new trees to the growing urban forest planted by its cyclists.

Since 1992, the Tour des Trees has grown to become the largest fundraiser for tree research and education in the world. In 2015, it generated over $340,000 that will be used to support a variety of research projects and educational programs for budding tree care professionals. 

Lori Brockelbank: 

Four years ago, I embarked upon my first journey with the Stihl Tour des Trees to benefit the TREE (Tree Research and Education Endowment) Fund. I could not have known how much of an impact that one week would have on my life. I remember how hard that first tour was—I never knew my knees could hurt that bad from just pedaling a bicycle. I am happy to say that through three bike tours, my fellow bike riders became among my dearest friends. We have encouraged and learned from each other. The biggest lesson I have learned is that it’s okay to ask for help—and sometimes the nicest people will come along and help you without you even asking.

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