SMA 2018 Urban Tree of the Year is…

tuliptree leaves and flowers Steve Cothrel
photo by Steve Cothrel

The 2018 SMA Urban Tree of the Year is native to much of the Eastern United States and is cold hardy to Zone 4 and heat hardy to Zone 8b or 9. You may associate it with forests, but not so much with urban forests. Yet it definitely has its place in cities so long as its basic needs are met. It is the majestic tulip tree (Liriodendron tulipifera), a member of the magnolia family that reaches 60 to 90 feet in height and 30 to 50 feet in width. It’s named tulip tree because of the shape of its leaves, which emerge first, and its showy flowers, which follow and can be borne higher up in the canopy and somewhat hidden from view by the leaves. 

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Up With Trees! SMA Tulsa Conference Highlights

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Up with Trees headquarters in Tulsa. Photo: upwithtrees.org

Recently, Council members such as Past President Andy Hillman, Secretary Steve Harris, Board Member James Kaechele, and myself (Blog Editor Michelle Sutton) attended the Annual Conference of the Society of Municipal Arborists (SMA). It was held November 13-14, 2017 in Tulsa, Oklahoma prior to the Partners in Community Forestry Conference on November 15-16.

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SMA conferences are open to and welcoming of anyone and everyone interested in urban forestry but tend to draw most from professional city foresters, parks superintendents, state UCF coordinators, urban forestry nonprofit staff, and the like. Many continue on to the “Partners” conference, organized by the Arbor Day Foundation, where they are joined by hundreds of community forestry professionals, volunteers, and activists.

A bus tour of Tulsa (human pop. ~ 400,000) highlighted the long and productive collaboration between the Tulsa Parks and Recreation Forestry Section and the nonprofit group Up with Trees, founded in 1976. Urban forestry in Tulsa was first formally recognized in 1992; its longtime city forester, Mike Perkins, recently retired from the City and went to work as operations manager for Up with Trees. Arborist Dave Zucconi then took the city forester position, rising from the ranks of Parks and Recreation. Tulsa benefits from the longtime positive working relationship between Perkins and Zucconi, who gave a very animated tour and are rightfully proud of their accomplishments and those of their colleagues.

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Mike Perkins (left) and Dave Zucconi (right)

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Crazy Worms Addendum

Cornell Cooperative Extension just came out with a helpful bulletin about Asian jumping works, aka crazy worms. It includes images showing how to tell apart invasive European worms and the more damaging crazy worms, and advice on how to prevent their spread. Limited research on potential predators to hope control this pest shows that Eastern red centipedes and other arthropods may be the best bet.

And here’s a time-lapse video that shows what the worms, Latin name Amynthas agrestis, do to organic matter—gobble it up and leave behind a small volume of overly aggregated castings that dry out quickly. It’s not good.

See prior post for more info, and thanks to horticulturist Laura Wyeth for this additional info.

Green Horizons: NYC Middle School Careers Event in its 22nd Year

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NYSDEC Senior Forester Greg Owens facilitated native tree planting and other activities in the All About Trees workshop. Photo by Diana Pedi

The 22nd New York City Green Horizons middle school careers event was held October 19, 2017 in Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx. It attracted almost 300 students—the largest registration ever. The weather was perfect and the Park was an ideal site for students to explore 19 stations that focused on environmental and natural resources careers. Special partners this year were staff and volunteers of Van Cortlandt Park, the Friends of Van Cortlandt Park, the Van Cortlandt Park Conservancy, and the Van Cortlandt Historic House Museum. 

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How NYC ReLeaf Gets it Done: Effective Advocacy for the Federal UCF Budget

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Numbers represent the respective US Congressional Districts. Twelve federal congressmen and women cover the five boroughs of NYC.

Thank you to NYC ReLeaf Planning Committee Member Nancy Wolf and NYC ReLeaf Committee Co-chair and NYSUFC Board Member Andrew Newman for sharing this account with us. 

Along with ReLeaf groups and other stakeholders around the State, New York City ReLeaf has been active in the effort to protect and preserve the vital federal Urban and Community Forestry (UCF) funds in the 2018 USDA Forest Service budget. When our NYC ReLeaf Committee learned of the concerted advocacy effort made by several prominent non-profits in California, we did not want to be outdone by our West Coast counterparts! We resolved to contact our local delegation.

With 12 U.S. Congressional Representatives across the five boroughs of NYC, it was important to alert all of them to the situation early last summer. Two of the NYC delegation—Rep. Jose Serrano of the Bronx and Rep. Grace Meng of Queens—sit on the important House Appropriations Committee that hammers out the House proposed budget, but to raise awareness of UCF more broadly, we contacted all 12 legislators. 

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Governor Cuomo Announces $2.3 Million in Urban Forestry Grants

Funding Will Help Support Tree Planting and Other Urban Forestry Projects Statewide 

Read on to find out about the awardees and their projects  

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Scarlet oak (Quercus coccinea). Photo by Rick Harper

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo recently announced grant awards totaling $2.3 million for urban forestry projects in communities across New York. The Urban Forestry grants are funded through the state Environmental Protection Fund and are part of New York’s ongoing initiatives to address invasive species, climate change and environmental justice.

“These investments will help improve the quality of life in New York neighborhoods by supporting the replacement of trees impacted by invasive pests,” Governor Cuomo said. “Every New Yorker deserves access to clean air, and through these urban forestry grants, we are promoting the benefits of planting new trees to support a better, healthier New York for all.”

Grants were made available to municipalities, public benefit corporations, public authorities, school districts, soil and water conservation districts, community colleges, not-for-profit organizations, and Indian Nations. Awards range from $11,000 to $75,000, depending on municipal population. Tree inventories and community forestry management plans have no match. Tree planting and maintenance projects have a 25 percent match.

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Hudson Valley ReLeaf Workshop Went Back to Basics

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Planting a ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba) in Millbrook. Photo by Karen Emmerich

On Thursday, October 12, 2017 Hudson Valley ReLeaf and NYSDEC held a workshop called “Back to Basics” hosted at CCE Dutchess County in Millbrook. Sessions were given on tree biology, tree planting specifications, young tree pruning, and insects and diseases impacting forest health. Four esteemed professionals led the sessions: NYSDEC’s Jason Denham, CCE Nassau County’s Vinnie Drzewucki, the New York Tree Trust’s James Kaechele, and NYSDEC Region 3 Senior Forester George Profous. The day culminated in the planting of a ginkgo tree in downtown Millbrook as part of a tree planting demo conducted by Profous. All this for $25! Keep an eye out for ReLeaf workshops in your area.

Hudson Valley ReLeaf is part of a statewide program managed by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Bureau of Private Land Services. Funding is provided by the Urban and Community Forestry Program. Volunteer members of Hudson Valley ReLeaf include interested citizens, forestry professionals, representatives of environmental non-profits, and government officials.

Update on 2018 Federal Budget for UCF

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Thanks to Danielle Watson, Assistant Director of Government Affairs & External Relations for the Society of American Foresters, for this legislative update (10/24/17) on the federal Urban and Community Forestry budget for FY 2018.

In his budget proposal earlier this year, the President had zeroed out funding for UCF. However, the House Interior Appropriations bill subsequently specified near-level funding for Urban and Community Forestry. Then the bill went to the Senate Appropriations Committee (no current members of that committee are from NYS).

The Senate still has not released its budget numbers, but we are anticipating that they will be less than the House numbers for Urban & Community Forestry. Recall, the House numbers were only slightly under FY17 levels—which was a big win.

The Senate numbers will come out, and then the House and Senate will be negotiating a year-end budget deal, so really any time between now and December is a good time to check in with your House member and your Senators, letting them know that you support FY17 levels of funding for Urban and Community Forestry.

 

Municipal Forestry Institute Coming to Connecticut in February 2018!

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“Without hesitation, I would encourage anybody who is in the urban forestry field to attend MFI. Do whatever you have to do to get there! I found it so incredibly valuable.” —Karen Emmerich, NYSUFC President  Photo by Paul Ries

The Municipal Forestry Institute (MFI) is an exciting, high-level training opportunity educating professionals in the leadership and managerial aspects of urban forestry. This week-long intensive educational program delivers a challenging opportunity to grow a more successful community tree program. It’s a place to learn and master leadership and management tools for program administration, coalition building, strategic thinking, program planning, and public relations. Invest a week in your professional and personal development! MFI 2018 will be held February 18-23 at Wisdom House Retreat and Conference Center in Litchfield, CT.

Register here

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Joe Charap, and Brooklyn’s Green-Wood Cemetery as Urban Arboretum

Joe Charap

New NYSUFC Board Member Joseph Charap is the Director of Horticulture and Curator for Green-Wood in Brooklyn. He’s also a new dad—his son Benjamin was born on September 3rd. Charap and his Green-Wood colleagues are transforming the historic landscape of this cemetery into an urban arboretum/public garden and expanding the ways people utilize its many resources.

Joe Charap:

I am a native New Yorker and I grew up in Lower Manhattan. After earning a BA and an MA in English Literature, I began working in a schizophrenia research lab. In my limited free-time, I assisted a professional gardener working in residential gardens around the city. It was during this time that I really began to connect with trees and other plants.

Through this work and other projects, it became clear to me that horticulture was my calling, but that I needed to get professional training. After a chance meeting with New York Botanical Garden (NYBG) Vice President Francisca Coelho in 2013, I applied to and was accepted into NYBG’s School of Professional Horticulture. During my second year of the program, I held an internship at Green-Wood, and upon graduating, I was hired as Curator of Plant Collections. In January of 2017, I was made Director of Horticulture at Green-Wood.

Green-Wood Cemetery was founded in 1838 as one of the earliest “rural cemeteries.” It’s an accredited Level II Arboretum, occupying 478 acres in Brooklyn. We believe we will achieve Level III Accreditation within the next five years, as we continue to diversify our tree and shrub collection. [Level III arboreta have at least 500 species of woody plants, employ a collections curator, have substantial educational programming, collaborate with other arboreta, publicize their collections, and actively participate in tree science and conservation.] 

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