Tree of Merit: Overcup Oak (Quercus lyrata) Story by Cene Ketcham, Extension Arborist, Casey Trees
Overcup oak (Quercus lyrata)—sometimes known as swamp post oak or water white oak—is a tough shade tree in the white oak group. Though it can sometimes be difficult to source, its popularity for use along streets and in the landscape has been increasing—a testament to the growing interest in this species. At first glance, overcup oak is sometimes confused with swamp white oak (Q. bicolor), post oak (Q. stellata), or with its close relative, bur oak (Q. macrocarpa). Although it shares some attributes with these species, closer inspection reveals a tree with a character all its own.
A year ago, I wrote for the Council blog about the Urban Forest Carbon Registry, a non-profit organization based in Seattle. The Registry developed the first-ever Tree Preservation Carbon Protocol that enables urban forest preservation projects to earn carbon credits and bring in new funding sources. The Registry is working with urban foresters in a number of cities to help them develop both preservation and planting programs. In addition, many urban forest professionals serve as advisors and protocol drafters for the Registry. Here’s an update.
New Name: City Forest Credits
The Registry recently announced a name change: City Forest Credits. It’s still a non-profit registry issuing Carbon+ Credits for city forests (more about the “+” later). We found that the terms “urban” and “urban forestry” do not connect well with either funders or the person on the street. By contrast, the word “City” ties to resilient cities, smart cities, carbon neutral cities. We also believe that the buyers of City Forest Carbon+ Credits will include sustainability and water-neutrality buyers, so we wanted to emphasize the credit as well as the carbon.
From Brian Skinner, Council Treasurer and Arbor Day Grant Program Chair
The NYS Urban Forestry Council Arbor Day Grant Program Committee, in conjunction with the NYSDEC, is pleased to announce the winners of the 2018 grants. There was significant competition this year, with 26 applications from across New York State submitted and 13 communities eventually selected to receive grants of $400-$1,000 to conduct a first-time community celebration of Arbor Day.
The Villages of Albion, Bainbridge, Freeville, Lima, and Liverpool; the Towns of East Bloomfield, Hastings, New Windsor, North Collins, and Plattsburgh; and the cities of Gloversville and Sherrill were selected to receive grants in support of new Arbor Day programs as presented and described in their applications. Congrats to these communities!
Plantings Support Pollinators and Improve Habitats for Wildlife
More than 50 species of trees and shrubs from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s (DEC) Saratoga Tree Nursery are now available to public and private landowners and schools, DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos announced last month.
“Planting trees and shrubs not only enhances properties, it also provides positive environmental benefits that can be accomplished with minimal time and money and requires only basic skills,” Commissioner Seggos said. “New seedlings improve wildlife habitat and air and water quality in people’s backyards. And DEC foresters are always available to give you the best advice on what to plant.”
Spruces, pines, shrub willows, dogwoods, high bush cranberry, winged sumac, white cedar, and wetland rose are among the 50 species available from the State’s Saratoga Tree Nursery. The sale provides low-cost, native tree and shrub seedlings from New York seed sources to encourage landowners to enhance the state’s environment for future generations. Mixed species packets are also available. Enhancing habitat in your backyard is made easy with packets of trees and shrubs for your specific planting goals including enhancement of ruffed grouse habitat, Long Island habitat, and riparian and streamside habitat. In addition, packets include flowering species that attract pollinators.
NYSDEC Urban and Community Forestry Grant Information Sessions in preparation for Round 14 of Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) grants are coming up in April at four locations around the State. Funding for the urban forestry grants from a total available $2.3 million will be awarded for projects by successful applicants in large and small communities throughout the State. The application will be available on the NYS Grants Gateway later in Spring 2018. Grants will be for project categories including tree planting and maintenance; education programs; and tree inventories and community forest management plans.
As communities look to apply for Round 14 grants, it’s helpful to look back at successful applications from previous rounds. For instance, Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn applied and received two Round 13 EPF grants: one under the category of tree planting or tree maintenance, and the other under the category of tree inventory or community forest management planning. Both were awarded at $75K, with the maintenance grant having a $25K match. These were the first EPF grants Green-Wood received.
As the volunteer coordinator for the NYSDEC Urban Forestry Program, I do a lot. My job duties vary throughout the year, ranging from planning ReLeaf workshops to creating theme and lesson plans for the 5th Grade Arbor Day Poster Contest. Reviewing Tree City USA applications is one of my favorite parts of my job; it’s so much fun to see how different communities across the state get creative with how they celebrate Arbor Day.
Many of my favorite memories from growing up include being outdoors with my friends and family. Those memories, coupled with my fascination for rocks, led to me study Environmental Science at SUNY Albany. I was positive I was in the right field, but I was at a loss for what I wanted to do after college. I spent my winter breaks of junior and senior year in Ecuador with an organization called Global Student Embassy. We worked on reforestation and local sustainability projects—experiences that helped ignite a passion for working with communities and trees.
Urban Forests: A Natural History of Trees and People in the American Landscape by Jill Jonnes
Reviewed by Allison Craig, BioForest Urban Forest Health Specialist
Urban Forests: A Natural History of Trees and People in the American Landscape published by Viking Press (2016) is a wonderful read for anyone wanting to travel back in time and immerse themselves in the journey of urban forestry in America. Jonnes takes the reader on a nostalgic and well-thought out tour of iconic urban American trees and landscapes, telling stories of nineteenth-century New York City streets once lined with the exotic and vigorous tree-of-heaven, Washington, D.C.’s love affair with flowering Japanese cherry trees, the lamentable nation-wide decline of the great American chestnut, the death and re-birth of the stately American elm from suburban roadways, and the marvelous recovery of the striking dawn redwood from the depths of China’s forests.
Contemporarily, she recounts the environmental, economic, and emotional strains of the relevant and on-going battles with invasive Asian beetles, highlighting the havoc wreaked by the Asian longhorned beetle and the emerald ash borer to date in America. Her retellings of the original detections and realization of the implications of these pests accurately summarize and reflect a collective feeling of dread, shock, and unease that anyone who has dealt with these beetles has surely experienced.
Even as the FY18 federal budget picture for UCF is unclear, President Trump’s FY19 proposed budget zeroes out urban and community forestry. We who treasure this world of endeavor–urban forestry–are charged with communicating its value (economic and intangible) to our legislators, and to do so year-round. We can educate our legislators at every level–town, village, city, county, and state–about the myriad ecosystem benefits of well-cared-for urban forests. Doing so will help keep our local funding strong and mitigate against funding threats at the national level. Our calls, visits, and letters to the editors matter.
For many legislators, the concept of urban forestry is still new. In 2016, Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown’s wife Connie Schultz gave him a copy of Jill Jonnes’s heralded book, Urban Forests: A Natural History of Trees and People in the American Cityscape, for his 64th birthday. It was one of Brown’s top three reads in 2016; in a meeting with UFC advocates, he said he loved the book and now “gets it” about the value of urban forests in our nation. If you can afford to, consider sending or taking a copy to one of your legislators! You could include a note about what the urban forest means to you, as well as information about the economic value of city forests.
NYSDEC recently launched its use of drones for things like monitoring coastal erosion on Lake Ontario, exploration of bat caves in Mineville, restoration of beach dunes on Fire Island, and monitoring Southern pine beetle in pine stands on Long Island. There are few known instances of drone use in the urban forests of New York; it’s thought that this is because people are worried about safety and are uncertain about the potentially prohibitive laws at work in populous areas.
However, the Council’s own Joseph Charap has begun using drones in Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn with the help of his colleague, Vice President of Operations, Eric Barna. (Charap is Green-Wood’s Director of Horticulture and Curator.) Their first use of Barna’s Phantom 3 drone was to get aerial imagery of a veteran red oak (Quercus rubra) tree at Green-Wood that Charap suspected might be infected with oak wilt.