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NYC Parks’ Liam Kavanagh Brings Big-Picture Discussion to Council Board

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NYC Parks Commissioner Liam Kavanagh. Photo by Michelle Sutton, from 2016 SMA Conference 2016

Last month, NYC Parks First Deputy Commissioner  Liam Kavanagh came and spoke with the Council Board at their meeting at the NYSDEC Region 2 office on Long Island. Commissioner Kavanagh discussed three national, big-picture urban forestry projects with the Board: the Ten-Year Urban Forestry Action Plan, a report on the Impact of Urban and Community Forestry Federal Grants, and the Urban Forestry Toolkit. Let’s look at each one.

1) The Ten-Year Urban Forestry Action Plan (2016-2026) was developed by and for the urban forestry community. It was funded by the US Forest Service and developed by the National Urban and Community Forestry Advisory Council (NUCFAC)* with extensive input from stakeholders. You can read an interesting interview with Liam Kavanagh about the Plan here.

The Plan’s purpose is to expand awareness of the benefits that our urban forests, including green infrastructure, provide to communities throughout the nation, and increase investments in these urban forest resources for the benefit of current and future generations.

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Pyrus, We Have a Problem: National Perspective on the Runaway Callery Pear

Callery pear foliage and fruit. Photo by Brett O’Brien

I moved from Rochester to the Hudson Valley in 2010. In the eight years since, I’ve noticed a steady proliferation of escaped Callery pears in the Valley. From one undeveloped bowl of land at a busy corner in my town emerges a cloud of white in the spring and some admittedly striking fall color come late October/early November. The problem is that not much else is growing there now, and many of these volunteer trees have reverted to thorniness, creating giant impenetrable thickets.

Callery pears have a mixed rating on wildlife value; on the one hand, bees and other insects visit the flowers in spring and a few species of songbirds eat the fruit after it softens in the winter. On the other hand, Callery pears do not support caterpillars in any significant numbers, so they do not provide adequate food for baby birds the way that oaks and other native trees do.

From University of Delaware Professor Doug Tallamy, Author of Bringing Nature Home
From University of Delaware Professor Doug Tallamy, Author of Bringing Nature Home

Why are self-sterile cultivars of Callery pear producing fruit? One way it happens is when fertile pear understock sprouts, flowers, and produces viable pollen. Another: by the late 1990s, the introduction of new Callery pear cultivars beyond ‘Bradford’, cultivars like ‘Aristocrat’ and ‘Chanticleer’, led to an unexpected dilemma: in areas where large numbers of Callery pears were planted, the self-sterile cultivars starting pollinating one another. Then came the fruit, then came bird dispersion of the fruit … and “Pyrus, We Have a Problem.” 

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Budget Update … and the Time for UF Advocacy is Always Now

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Thanks once again to the tireless Danielle Watson, Assistant Director of Government Affairs & External Relations for the Society of American Foresters, for this legislative update on the federal Urban and Community Forestry budget for FY 2018.

As readers know, Congress is still trying to negotiate a deal for FY 2018. They have until January 19th until the current Continuing Resolution expires (after which there is, as readers probably are well aware, the threat of a government shutdown). If Congress reaches a deal and extends the Continuing Resolution, they will likely extend it until Feb. 19th. At that point, assuming they have a deal, they would sign an omnibus bill including all the spending bills from various agencies.

Remember, the House version of the Interior bill (the one that includes the Forest Service) only cut U&CF by a small amount, but the Senate bill cut U&CF by 25%. Therefore, we can assume that the final number will be somewhere in between – unless they hear a lot of push back from advocates of urban and community forestry between now and Feb 19th.

Plus, they have to start developing numbers for FY 2019 – so it’s always a good time to let your representatives in the House and Senate know how important this program is and that communities across the country can’t afford cuts to U&CF. 

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Top Seven Blog Posts of 2017

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#1 Transplanting and a Deeper Look at “Fall Hazards”

Some topics really hold up … with nearly 1400 views, this was the top viewed blog post in 2017–even though it originally appeared in 2015! Former NYC Director of Street Tree Planting Matt Stephens and NYSUFC Editor Michelle Sutton coauthored this story questioning commonly held beliefs about “fall hazards,” mostly as it applies to B&B trees, but they also discuss the interaction of the fall season with other production methods, like bare root. Nina Bassuk helped craft the section called “The Five Branches of Transplanting Success,” which will be of interest to anyone planting trees. 

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Action Alert: Senate Wants to Slash Urban & Community Forestry

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Urban forests are in need of your help! The Senate is suggesting a twenty-five percent cut to the US Forest Service Urban and Community Forestry Program for fiscal year 2018! Let Congress know that urban forests are important to everyone’s quality of life and any cut to the program is unacceptable. We need to call both our NYS Senators and our US Rep in the House.

Schumer: (202) 224-6542
Gillibrand:  (202) 224-4451

Here’s a sample script from which you can excerpt your script or email text. Start your communication by establishing your connection to UCF.

Dear Senator Schumer,
I work in the field of urban forestry as an educator, writer, and editor for organizations such as the NYS Urban Forestry Council. As your constituent, I am deeply concerned with any funding reduction to the U.S. Forest Service’s Urban and Community Forestry (UCF) program. The Senate proposed a 25% cut to this important program while the House of Representatives’ Appropriation Subcommittee on the Interior, Environment and Related Agencies recommended a funding level close to the FY 2017 amount of $28 million. I ask for your help to keep the FY 2018 amount for this program level with FY 2017, at the very least.

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2018 Arbor Day Grant Application Period Open!

2018 Arbor Day Community Grant Notice

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Pat Evens

The NYS Urban Forestry Council is pleased to announce available funding for small communities to have a 2018 Arbor Day tree planting event and to establish a community based forestry program. This funding has been provided by the USDA Forest Service and the NYS DEC Urban Forestry Program (and is not associated with the Arbor Day Foundation nor is part of the NYSDEC EPF community grants program).

Grants of up to $1,000 will be awarded to communities or non-profits (that work in partnership with communities) to celebrate Arbor Day 2018 by both planting a tree (or trees)and forming a volunteer tree committee or tree board within the municipality.  To be considered for a grant, please complete and return the application and requested documentation (PDF format) (Word format here).

Besides planting trees, the intent of this grant is to help promote and establish a meaningful community forestry program. Communities that are currently a Tree City USA or those that have any component of the Tree City USA program, such as a tree ordinance, tree board, tree inventory or management plan are ineligible. Previous NYS Arbor Day Community Grant recipients are also ineligible. 

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Behind the Scenes with Arbor Day Poster Contest Winner

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from left: Sarah Werner, 2017 winner of the statewide 5th grade Arbor Day poster contest; Warwick Mayor Michael Newhard; and Patricia Reinhardt, chair of the Arbor Day Committee and a member of Warwick Valley Gardeners. Photo by Denise Werner

Last spring, many students from the Warwick Valley Central School District took part in the 2017 Arbor Day Ceremony on April 28th at Stanley-Deming Park, co-hosted by the Village of Warwick and Warwick Valley Gardeners. Among them was fifth grader Sarah Werner, whose artwork on the theme of “Defend New York’s Forests” was chosen as the statewide Arbor Day poster contest winner. We talked with Sarah and her Mom, Denise, about this achievement and about their personal connection with trees.

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Sarah: When I saw the theme ‘Defend New York’s Forests’, I thought of a fantasy where the forest had a shield, like a knight protecting the forest. The forest is behind the shield, but different kinds of trees are featured in front of it. My Mom taught me how to paint trees. I’ve been into art since I was very little, where I started with finger painting. My favorite trees are the maples because of all their fall colors. Trees always calm me. They put me in a peaceful mind place.

Denise: Since Sarah was a baby, my husband and I have taken her hiking in the forest near us, Wawayanda State Park. From six months old on she was out there in a backpack with us. Also since Sarah learned to walk, she helped me water newly planted spruce trees around the property. Those experiences influenced her awareness of trees and why trees are good for the environment. 

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Save the Rain’s Fall 2017 Tree Planting in Syracuse

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Volunteers planting in the Brighton Neighborhood of Syracuse. Photos Courtesy Save the Rain

From Clare Evelyn Carney, CCE Onondaga Urban Forestry Educator:

The Save the Rain (STR) Tree Planting Program had a wonderful year of planting street trees throughout the City of Syracuse. In 2017, over 1,000 trees were planted through the collaborative efforts of Cornell Cooperative Extension of Onondaga County, the City of Syracuse Parks Department, and the Onondaga Earth Corps. In the fall, Save the Rain team members participated in a neighborhood restoration project and two tree planting events in which volunteers engaged with their communities. The program is a component of Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney’s award-winning stormwater management program, Save the Rain.

On September 14th, 2017 the STR team came together to support the annual Home HeadQuarters Block Blitz. It was a wonderful opportunity to partner with other organizations working to rejuvenate our communities. The Block Blitz is a volunteer event focused on the revitalization of homes in Syracuse, with interventions such as painting, landscaping, cleanups, and structural restoration.  As part of the landscape renewal, the STR crew planted 13 trees at properties along West Bordon Ave, West Beard Ave, Landon Ave, and Midland Ave of Syracuse.  

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A Happy Tale from the Community Benefit Tree Program of the ALB Reforestation Project

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Photo by Pete Cheswick

by Addie Cappello, Horticulture Assistant, CCE Nassau County

As part of the ongoing Asian Longhorned Beetle (ALB) Reforestation Grant, we ALB project staff (Nick Bates, Rob Calamia, and Addie Cappello) entered the fall 2107 planting season excited to be out of the office and back to working outdoors. For the third consecutive season, we were undertaking the entire tree project—from planning to planting—without the assistance of outside contractors. We are proud of the skills, knowledge, and self-sufficiency we have built up over time.

As part of the ongoing Community Benefit Tree Program of the ALB project, we had planned to plant 50 public trees within the Town of Oyster Bay in fall of 2017. These trees would be planted within the grounds of three schools located in the Massapequa School District: Massapequa High School, Unqua Road Elementary School, and Eastlake Elementary School. We worked closely with the grounds manager for the district, Pete Cheswick, who helped us locate ideal spots for new trees, while we selected appropriate species. Planting went well and we were happy to have helped a community as well as further our goal of reforesting Long Island. 

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