On August 5, 2015 the people of Balmville in the Town of Newburgh in Orange County said goodbye to a storied old-growth eastern cottonwood (Populus deltoides) revered by many big tree lovers. Core samples showed it to be 316 years old, far exceeding the expected life span for cottonwoods (app. 70 years); it was the oldest of its species in the United States. FDR made frequent trips to admire the Balmville Tree. The hamlet of Balmville was so named because the tree was originally thought to be a balm-of-Gilead (Populus x jackii).
Savvy community forestry programs are always on the lookout for funding opportunities. One avenue is through two urban forestry related programs of TD Bank: TD Tree Days, and TD Green Streets. Through TD Tree Days, City of Albany Forester Tom Pfeiffer and College of St. Rose Instructor and Science Education Problem-Based Learning Coordinator Mary Cosgrove received a grant from TD Bank to plant 30 trees in Albany around Hoffman Park. TD Bank volunteers and students and staff from St. Rose, guided by Pfeiffer and his crew from the City of Albany, planted the trees on October 27, 2015.
This is the first in a series of real-time reporting by NYSUFC Board Member Lori Brockelbank, who serves on the planning committee for this new Western NY CommuniTREE Stewards program.
Snow days from school in early October in Western New York—not a chance! But that is exactly what happened on October 12, 2006 to the City of Buffalo and surrounding communities. With leaves still on many trees, the heavy wet snow left Western NY with a challenge unlike any in the past. Thousands of trees were damaged; some needed pruning while many needed removal.
To coordinate replanting efforts after the storm, Re-Tree WNY (Re-Tree) was formed to help replace the vast canopy that was lost. Over the last ten years, the thousands of trees lost in the October 2006 storm have been replaced by Re-Tree’s volunteers, the City of Buffalo, and the Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy.
In 2016, community partners have come together to take a natural next step in the care of these young trees by organizing a CommuniTREE Stewards (CTS) program. The intent of CTS is to train project volunteers to nurture the trees planted since 2006 and also be part of future plantings. CTS is a program of Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) of Erie County, with partners that include the City of Buffalo, Re-Tree, the Buffalo Green Fund, and Wendel Companies. We looked to similar programs, specifically Onondaga County CCE CommuniTREE Stewards, for guidance on how to organize the training for a similar program in Erie County.
by Darren Cotton, Board Vice President, University Heights Collaborative
What started as a group of neighbors in Buffalo sitting around a table talking has transformed into a multi-faceted, multi-phased project that is uniting their corner of the city. ReTree the District is a collaborative project of community partners in Buffalo’s University District that is working to plant 1,000 exclusively bare root trees across the northeast corner of the city. The project utilizes the Cornell Urban Horticulture Institute bare root method and the trees come from Schichtel’s Nursery.
Started in early 2014, ReTree the District has made great strides toward its goal of planting 1,000 trees. Between fall 2014 and fall 2015, 585 trees were planted on residential streets throughout the district’s neighborhoods. The project has already brought over 1,000 volunteers to the community who invested $85,000 in volunteer hours, it has raised over $20,000 to purchase trees and tools, and it has supported the development of many new partnerships and collaborations within the community. Planting trees has become a great way for neighbors to meet one another and contribute positively to their community. Block clubs have gotten organized, student renters have worked alongside longtime homeowners, and dozens of different organizations are working together toward the same vision.
Landowners Can Take Advantage of Low-Cost Native Plants; Available to Schools for Free
More than 45 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 Acting Commissioner Basil Seggos announced today.
“The seedlings from our Saratoga Tree Nursery help landowners create habitat and improve air and water quality in their backyard and schoolyard” Acting Commissioner Seggos said. “In addition, many types of trees and shrubs provide important food sources for bees, butterflies and other pollinating insects which have declined over recent years. I encourage all New Yorkers to take advantage of this great resource, and to work with our foresters and experts at the nursery to maximize the conservation benefits of your plantings.”
Low Cost Options for Public and Private Landowners
The program provides low-cost, native planting materials from New York sources to encourage landowners to enhance the state’s environment for future generations. The Saratoga Tree Nursery also offers a few non-native species which can enhance wildlife plantings and assist with stream bank stabilization. For instance, toringo crabapple provides a winter food source for wild turkey, grouse and deer while streamco willow is used in many stabilization projects.
Species attractive to pollinators and offered by the nursery include maples, sycamore, buckeye, willows, bristly locust, roses, viburnum (highbush cranberry, arrowwood, nannyberry), dogwood, crabapple, sand cherry, buttonbush, wild grape, and, black cherry.
The Saratoga Tree Nursery sells primarily bare-root stock for direct plantings, but a few species are available as containerized stock. Landowners can receive planting advice from their nearest DEC forestry office or private forestry consultant. The 2016 Tree and Shrub brochure (PDF) (170 KB) can be found on the DEC’s website or by calling the Saratoga Tree Nursery at(518) 581-1439. Some species sell out quickly.
Here, Nyack Tree Committee Chair Marcy Denker discusses the tree inventory recently completed in her Village. You can see the full tree inventory report here, and the key findings from the inventory can be seen after Marcy’s narrative.
New York State Urban Forestry Program Coordinator Mary Kramarchyk says, “Nyack uses the principles of good urban forestry management to gain the best outcomes for their projects. Like Nyack, other New York communities can use the resources around them, like ReLeaf and the NYSUFC, to find tools to benefit their community programs.”
When the Village of Nyack organized a Green Infrastructure Roundtable to address stormwater problems three years ago, tree planting and stewardship emerged as priority actions. The Village took the steps to become a Tree City USA the following year and received a NYSDEC Cost-Share Grant for a tree inventory. Completed in 2015 by Davey Resource Group (DRG), the inventory identified over 500 locations for tree planting on public land. That’s a lot of sites for a village of one-and-a-half square miles!
Recently, the Cornell Urban Horticulture Institute, headed by Nina Bassuk, published a 57-page Comprehensive Guide to CU-Structural Soil.
This is THE publication to share with your municipality’s engineers and leadership, to show the why and how of CU-Structural Soil.
CU-Structural Soil®, also known as CU-Soil®, is a two-part system comprised of a rigid stone “lattice” that meets engineering requirements for a load-bearing paving base, and a quantity of uncompacted soil that supports tree root growth.
The first section of the Guide discusses the role of soil volume and how to calculate how much soil volume a tree needs. No matter how well matched your tree species is to its site, limited soil volume is something few trees can abide, much less thrive in.
The Guide goes on to give the case for CU-Structural Soil in particular, and answers FAQs like “How much CU-Soil will I need?”, “How do you plant trees in CU-Soil?”, “Can it be retrofitted for use under existing trees?”, and “How is irrigation and drainage handled?” It also explains how to obtain CU-Soil that meets quality control specifications. (This, by the way, is why CU-Soil is licensed—to ensure quality control. Otherwise, anyone could mix up rocks and soil and claim to be selling “CU-Soil.”)
ReTree Schenectady (ReTree) is a non-profit organization formed in 1991 that is dedicated to the planting, care, and conservation of current and future generations of trees in the City of Schenectady. Their goals are achieved by fostering community involvement through education and collaboration with local organizations and businesses.
ReTree has applied for and received many rounds of NYS DEC Cost-Share grants. Here, ReTree President Dr. Betsy Henry shares some of her experiences and has some advice for new applicants. First and most basic, applicants should make sure to address all the areas requested in the grant application. Then she has some advice about good planning and collaboration for projects.
A repository of more than 30 roundtables from CITY TREES magazine 2005-2017 is freely available on the home page of the Society of Municipal Arborists (SMA) website, www.urban-forestry.com.
The roundtable format was a suggestion from Dr. Nina Bassuk that City Trees took and ran with. Each roundtable contains advice and anecdotes on a theme from 8 to 10 professionals. The information will be of interest to anyone involved in the urban and community forestry (UCF) world!
The topics are: Bees, Bioswales, Building Bridges Between LAs and MAs, Building Bridges with City Depts, Part I and II, Cemeteries, Climate Change, Consulting, Contract Growing Partnerships, Drought, EAB, Fall Planting, Flood Damage, Gas Lines and Trees, Historic Trees, Invasives, Large Tree Relocation, Medians, Memorial Trees, Palms in the Urban Forest, Pruning Cycles, Pyrus Problems, Sewer Lines, Slopes, Social Networking, Teaching, Tree Boards, Tree Lights, Urban Forestry’s Location in City Departments, Urban Fruit Trees, Urban Wood, Zoos.
Sample entries from roundtables follow. Please go to www.urban-forestry.com to take advantage of this resource and learn more about the SMA, which welcomes members from all spheres of the UCF world (paid or volunteer).
Above: Retired MD Dr. Henry Street of the Laporte PA Borough Shade Tree Commission illustrates how easy it is for volunteers to handle bare root trees, which typically contain 200% more roots (especially fine absorptive roots) than balled and burlapped trees of similar caliper.
Cornell Urban Horticulture Institute Director Nina Bassuk has been collecting data and observations from communities in New York and beyond about their bare root planting programs. (If you have observations from your town or city’s bare root program, please email them to firstname.lastname@example.org).
Bassuk suggested we highlight the efforts of Penn State Cooperative Extension Urban Forester Vincent Cotrone, who coordinates a community tree buying program that has resulted in more than 10,000 bare root trees being planted in Northeast PA. “Having a coordinator is key,” Bassuk says. “My hope is that we can create more community buying programs in New York.” (Learn about Onondaga County’s Bare Root Community-Tree Buy here, in a previous post about bare root).