Our own Nina Bassuk was interviewed for this Schenectady Daily Gazette article about the thus-far disappointing fall color in the Capital Region and throughout much of New York State. The article includes an arresting pair of pictures contrasting the fall color at this time in 2016 with the fall color now on the same mountainside in Cobleskill.
Bassuk says, “The two triggers that are important for fall colors are the shortening days and the cool nighttime temperatures. We haven’t had much of the cool nighttime temperatures. In fact, September was inordinately hot. It was also very dry. The drought in September caused some leaves to fall before they could change color, but I think it was the lack of cool nights,” she said. “In some places, you can look at some hills and it could be July.” Read more here.
Council Member John T. wrote to me after last summer’s ReLeaf Conference. He was surprised that in the conversations he had with other ReLeaf folks, there was little to no awareness of the Asian jumping worm (Amynthas agrestis) and how damaging it is to forests, including, one could assume, the urban forest.
Last summer, for the first time, I noticed that my compost-enriched vegetable garden soil seemed excessively granulated, and the soil was subsiding and drying out faster than usual. Turns out, the granulation was the worm castings of the voracious eater, Amynthas agrestis. I’ve since seen the big worms, and now I shudder when they appear. Read on to see why it’s now my mission to rid my garden of these worms, and why the Asian jumping worm is a concern for foresters throughout much of the country.
Andrew Newman joined the Council Board last summer. He is Senior Correspondence Liaison for the Brooklyn Borough Commissioner’s Office.
Can you tell us about your childhood influences that foreshadowed getting interested in arboriculture and urban forestry? Andrew Newman: Growing up in Brooklyn, Prospect Park was always my big, open backyard. From a very young age, I volunteered for sapling planting efforts and learned about wildlife habitats from local park rangers. I have family from Palmyra, New York (outside Rochester) whose property was covered with walnut, oak, and conifers so that growing up, I became well acquainted with trees. After studying the intersection of religious traditions and the environment as well as the deep ecology movement, I decided I was interested in pursuing a career that would marry public service, public engagement, and nature.
What was your educational trajectory leading to arboriculture and urban forestry? AN: With degrees in Religion and Classics and Clinical Psychology, mine was a circuitous route to urban forestry! Most of my educational experience has been on the job and in classes provided by NYC Parks, Trees New York, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, and other local organizations. Learning about forest ecosystems from experts in the field has been especially helpful.
Above: 2017 Arbor Day Poster, Photo by Brad Wenskoski
Each year the public is invited to submit photography and/or artwork to be considered for the NYS Arbor Day Poster. It is a long time tradition and posters have become collectors’ items for many. NYSDEC will print 100,000 posters for distribution to the 3,500 NYS schools, the NYS Fair, and other venues. The winning artist will be honored at the annual state Arbor Day celebration.
Artwork and photography is now being accepted for the 2018 NYS Arbor Day Poster Contest. To submit your photography and/or artwork please complete artist information form and send it with your artwork attached to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Submissions must be received by December 31st, 2017. Only photographs taken in New York State will be accepted. If your photograph features any distinguishable persons, a model consent form (PDF, 113 KB) must be included with your submission. Please submit images with a resolution of 300 dpi or higher.
Each year the public is invited to submit photography and/or artwork to be considered for the State Arbor Day Poster. It is a long time tradition and posters have become collectors’ items for many. We will print 100,000 posters for distribution to the 3,500 NYS schools, the NYS Fair and other venues. The winning artist will be honored at the annual state Arbor Day celebration.
Submissions must be received by December 31st, 2017. Only photographs taken in New York State will be accepted. If your photograph features any distinguishable persons, a model consent form must be included with your submission. Please submit images with a resolution of 300 dpi or higher.
In “New Goat Crew Arrives on Lookout Hill”, Prospect Park Alliance tells how goats continue to aid in forest restoration after Hurricane Sandy by munching on invasive plants–a quarter of their body weight’s worth each day! The ruminants have been observed to be helpful in the mission but this time, the Alliance has partnered with USFS to do a controlled study. In 2017, goats were rotated through a series of plots on Prospect Park’s Lookout Hill. The health of these “goat plots” is going to be compared over time to “goat-less plots” where Alliance staff have cleared the invasive vegetation manually. Another good article about this ongoing research is “These Adorable Goats Are Helping to Restore Brooklyn’s Last Natural Forest.”
by Nichole Henderson-Roy, Senior Stewardship Manager, Forestry, Horticulture & Natural Resources, NYC Parks
On August 29th and 30th, 2017, the NYC Parks Stewardship program welcomed the first-year class of the NYU College of Arts and Sciences to New York in a truly grand style. Over two days, 1,435 students and 60 staff members cared for 1,570 trees!
NYC Parks Director of Forestry for Brooklyn Andrew Ullman shares news of oak wilt containment efforts in that borough.
The image at left shows how oak wilt appears on the leaves of white oak (A) and on red oak (B). The leaves fall prematurely, with some green still present, from the affected trees.
To date, there has only been one confirmed case of oak wilt in NYC (Brooklyn) though there are several known outbreaks on Long Island. Oak wilt was first confirmed in Brooklyn in Green-Wood Cemetery during the fall of 2016. It should be noted, this tree was on private property and therefore not under the jurisdiction of NYC Department of Parks and Recreation (NYC Parks). NYC Parks has sampled about a dozen trees that are presenting possible oak wilt symptoms. We are currently awaiting the results from the lab and expect to have them within the next few weeks.
The potential impacts on NYC’s urban forest are significant. Citywide, there are nearly 90,000 street trees in the oak genus. Oaks make up roughly 13% of our street trees, and there are many more oaks growing in our parks and natural areas. Oak wilt, caused by Ceratocystis fagacearum, is a lethal vascular wilt fungi. Symptoms include wilting, defoliation, and ultimately death of the host tree. The disease is transmitted by root grafts or insects and affects host trees in a manner similar to Dutch elm disease.
After the confirmed case of oak wilt in Brooklyn, NYC Parks created a proactive inspection program to inspect trees within the boundary established around the confirmed infection site. Parks has inspected all of the oaks trees growing on the streets and in our parks within that boundary. Between NYC Parks inspectors and our friends at Trees New York, we looked at more than 3,000 oak trees as part of this program. We have also created a contract specifically for managing oak wilt. The work completed under this contract will aid us in our efforts to control the spread of oak wilt if we do find it has spread beyond the initial infection site.
Additionally, we are working closely with NYSDEC, Green-Wood Cemetery, and Cornell University’s Plant Pathology Lab to coordinate response and share information. Finally, we are also limiting non-emergency work on oak trees during the growing season to limit the likelihood of spreading the disease.
Japanese knotweed (Polygonum cuspidatum; Latin synonym Fallopia japonica) is indisputably a major nuisance in the urban forest. NYC Parks Natural Resources Group has documented extensive research and control methods they’ve used, in partnership with the Bronx River Alliance and other entities, to combat knotweed along the Bronx River and in other natural areas in the City’s five boroughs.
Regardless of what combination of chemical and mechanical means are employed, control of Japanese knotweed is widely acknowledged to be imperfect at best. While we can and should manage its presence in our urban forests, this plant is here to stay.
Why and how is Japanese knotweed so successful at colonizing the most degraded sites? Why is it so hard to control? And what are some of the positive attributes of the plant that you might not hear much about? In this piece, Council member Laura Wyeth, a horticulturist with a particular interest in weed science, explores some of what makes Japanese knotweed unique.
Japanese knotweed is a plant caught up in the polarization of our times. Both its virtues and its malevolence have been inflated in the public imagination, and it is at once known as both miracle drug and botanical monster. In Canada, a nation not prone to paranoia, it has been described as “a demon weed so relentless, bloody-minded and destructive, it’s been called the terrorist of the plant kingdom.” Strong words for a creature with no teeth, claws, or toxicity to humans. Internet herbalists tout its miracle cancer-fighting properties with equal hyperbole. Yet with this plant, the quiet facts are more interesting than the hype.
If you’ve ever visited Utica (perhaps for a past ReLeaf conference), you know what a treasure the City’s Olmsted-designed Parks and Parkway System is. The Central New York Conservancy has preserved and restored the Parks and Parkway System, listed in the State and National Registers of Historic Places, since 2002.
After 15 years, the nonprofit organization is establishing its first-ever office, and in the most ideal location, in Utica. Thanks to a generous donation of property by the family of the late Albert Shaheen, M.D., the Conservancy has begun renovations to its new office located at 1641 Genesee Street.