Environmental consultant Karen Emmerich serves on the NYSUFC Board, on the Region 3 ReLeaf Committee, and as Tree Commission Chair for the Town of Warwick. Last February, the Council provided a partial scholarship for Karen to attend the Municipal Forestry Institute (MFI), a weeklong leadership training for urban forestry professionals and their affiliates.
“Without hesitation, I would encourage anybody who is in the urban forestry field to attend MFI,” she says. “Do whatever you have to do to get there! I found it so incredibly valuable.” She says the leadership skill building and the networking were the most meaningful to her. She especially urges young people to go, to get the benefits of MFI early in their career. More about Karen’s MFI experience later.
The 2016 Atlantic Ocean hurricane season officially began June 1, with meteorologists offering varying opinions about how much activity we in the eastern U.S. will see. Hurricane Sandy (October 2012) savaged tree populations with both high winds and flooding. Sandy brought one storm surge of salt water that retreated with the same day’s tides. What were some of the impacts and lessons learned? We hear from a veteran arborist on Long Island and from a former NYC urban forester.
What are the major reasons flooding is so punishing for trees? Dr. Kamran Abdollahi, professor of forest ecophysiology in the urban forestry program at Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, explains that flooding fills soil pores, denying tree roots access to the oxygen they need for respiration and water and nutrient uptake. Dr. Abdollahi says, “In the urban environment where soils are already compacted by human activities, flooding exacerbates compaction and its negative effects. Flooding can also negatively affect root anchoring and tree stability.”
Arborist Joel Greifenberger is the owner of Valley Tree and Landscape in Long Beach, Long Island. Valley has planted more than 25,000 trees for NYC in over 25 years. Greifenberger says that on Long Beach, Hurricane Sandy brought several feet of salt water on land, “bay to ocean,” for about 12 hours. That brief flooding event left dramatic damage to the region’s trees, with some surprising victims.
In “Can Hungry Goats Restore Urban Forests?” writer Jessica Leigh Hester describes how officials are using a herd of goats in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park to browse invasive plants that took hold after Hurricane Sandy blew down trees, leaving open earth exposed to sunlight. The herd is on loan from Green Goats Farm in Rhinebeck, New York. Using goats for urban vegetation management hasn’t always turned out well, but this project seems to be on the right track.
In “What are Trees Worth to Cities?” Syracuse-based lead researcher David Nowak of the U.S. Forest Service’s Northern Research Station talks about i-Tree, the tree software that he helped develop. He goes on to talk about the critical importance of assigning a dollar value to our urban forests and the many benefits they provide—then sharing that data with key decision makers. “Money drives decisions,” Nowak says.
In “Why Conserve Small Forest Fragments and Individual Trees in Urban Areas?” Dr. Mark Hostetler says, “For many developers and city planners, it takes time and money to plan around trees and small forest fragments. Often, the message from conservationists is that we want to avoid fragmentation and to conserve large forested areas. While this goal is important, the message tends to negate any thoughts by developers towards conserving individual mature trees and small forest fragments.” Hostetler goes on to discuss why forest fragments are important; he goes into depth about the role of forest fragments in the lives of migrating birds but also touches on the many other cumulative ecosystem benefits we know that urban trees/forest fragments provide, including carbon sequestration and shade.
In “Long-term Outcomes of Forest Restoration in an Urban Park,” NYC and USDA Forest Service Researchers compared restored and unrestored forest sites 20 years after initiating restoration. The sites are located within the Rodman’s Neck area of Pelham Bay Park, in the northeast corner of the Bronx in New York City. Some of the major implications for restoration practice that the researchers concluded from the findings of this study are that:
Urban forest restoration practices such as targeted removal of exotic invasive species and planting native tree species can increase species diversity and vegetation structure complexity. These effects can be seen two decades after restoration is initiated.
Targeted removal of exotic invasive plant species alone (i.e. without planting native trees) can increase numbers of exotic invasive shrubs and vines.
Urban forest restoration requires some level of continued maintenance to ensure success. Additional studies are needed to determine optimal levels (intensity and frequency) of intervention.
In “Online Tree Planting Program Software Applications” (pp 12-15) Plan-It Geo Founder Ian Hanou shows how two community forestry groups—Pennsylvania Horticultural Society and Forest ReLeaf of Missouri—used Cloud-based applications to accomplish their tree planting goals. He also provides an accessible primer on these tools.
A community-based, volunteer tree-planting event was held on May 5th at Onondaga Lake Park in Liverpool, NY. This event was part of Onondaga County’s Ash Tree Management Strategy. Onondaga County and the Office of the Environment have contracted the Onondaga County Soil and Water Conservation District (OCSWCD) to implement the County’s comprehensive Ash Tree Management Strategy which can be viewed here.
On April 30, 2016, PSEG Long Island, in partnership with New York State Urban Forestry Council and the Arbor Day Foundation, provided 1,000 of its customers with a free tree through the Energy-Saving Trees program. Designed to conserve energy through strategic planting, the program will help PSEG Long Island customers save up to 20 percent on their summer energy bills once the trees are fully grown, while also improving air quality and reducing storm water run-off for all residents across the company’s service territory.
“The Energy-Saving Trees program brings multiple benefits to Long Island, helping our customers save money on their energy bills and helping to improve the environment,” said Michael Voltz, Director of Energy Efficiency and Renewables, PSEG Long Island. “The program also helps our customers better understand how the right trees in the right location can reduce their utility bills and promote ongoing system reliability.”
PSEG Long Island customers reserved their free trees at www.arborday.org/pseglongisland, an online tool that helps customers estimate the annual energy savings that will result from planting trees in the most strategic location near their homes or businesses. All customers that participated will receive one tree and are expected to care for and plant them in the location provided by the online tool, taking into account utility wires and obstructions. The types of trees offered include the following: Black Tupelo, Eastern Redbud, Black Tupelo, Scarlet Oak, and American Linden.
The DEC’s Arbor Day celebration recognized the artwork of DEC’s children’s poster contest winner, Maheen Naqvi, 5th Grader from Dutch Lane Elementary School, Hicksville, Nassau County. The theme of this year’s children’s artwork was “New York’s Un-Fir-Gettable Forests.” Over 2,000 students participated in the poster contest event from schools across the state this year. Being chosen from among so many participants is a significant achievement! Congratulations to Maheen and family. You can see some past winning posters here.
by Charles Cochran, Street Tree Census Coordinator and Ben Greer, TreesCount!2015 Assistant Coordinator, NYC Parks and Recreation ~Infographic by Peter Tiso and Annie Weinmayr ~Photos Courtesy of NYC Parks
TreesCount! 2015 is the third decadal inventory of NYC’s street trees. This is the first tree census to use volunteer citizen scientists to be the primary data collectors. Individuals who have mapped went through a full training process with NYC Parks Census staff, mapped in “events” with other volunteers or mapped independently. Community partners ranging from environmental non-profits, business improvement districts, youth groups and community boards have also played a key role in training and engaging volunteers to map their neighborhoods. Volunteers have mapped 200,000 trees, 30% of the city, since May 2015.
Hosted by NYS DEC, the 11th annual Tree City/Line/Campus USA Recognition Ceremony was held on March 30, 2016 in Albany. These programs were created by the Arbor Day Foundation and the National Association of State Foresters to recognize the stewardship of urban forests by communities. New York State has 108 Tree City USAs, 6 Tree Line USA utilities, and 18 Tree Campus USAs. A complete list of all New York Tree City USA and Tree Campus communities is posted on DEC’s website at http://www.dec.ny.gov/lands/4957.html.
This was New York’s biggest ceremony yet, with communities from all of the nine DEC regions attending. One of the highlights was when NYSUFC founder Nancy Wolf was recognized with an Urban Forestry Award for being so pivotal in starting the urban forestry movement in our State.
This article originally appeared to broad acclaim in City Trees, the magazine of the Society of Municipal Arborists. It has comprehensive advice on funding for urban and community forestry programs of all sizes–from the seasoned to the brand-new.
Remember the good old days when we had all the money we needed for our urban forestry programs? No? Well, me either. In over three decades of being a municipal forester, whether working for the City of Cincinnati or consulting for other communities, I’ve never heard anyone say, “Budget increase? No thank you; we’re good.”
We’ve always needed more funding. Traditionally, municipal urban forest management program funding comes from one primary source—the general fund—with some pocket-change revenue from capital budgets, grants, and even firewood sales.
But these days, urban forest managers and their allies need to take a page from a financial advisor’s playbook and seek and secure funding from multiple sources so our budgets are sustainable and to ensure against the shifting sands of the national economy and local politics. Funding for urban forest management can also be affected by factors such as competing departmental budgetary priorities, changes in public opinion, newly elected leadership, and severe weather events.
When it comes to our budgets, we need to heed our own advice against monocultures. We shouldn’t rely on just one funding source, because you never know what will happen. And, as our personal financial planners would tell us, in order to maintain a viable urban forestry program under changing conditions in an unpredictable future, diversifying our funding sources will minimize the impacts of funding cuts from any one area.