Drones in the Urban Forest, Part 1: NYSDEC’s Drone Program Takes Off

NYSDEC is now using Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs, also known as drones) for a variety of monitoring purposes around the State. This terrific video, followed by the official NYSDEC press release, shows you the projects undertaken thus far. The ones that will perhaps interest the NYS urban forestry community most are related to Southern Pine Beetle and Phragmites–but all the projects are fascinating. In the next post, we explore the potential uses for urban forestry.

DEC’s Drone Program Takes Off

Fleet of 22 Drones and Professional Operators Undertake Critical Search and Rescue, Forest Fires, Wildlife Management and Forest Health Missions

DEC Drones Dispatched to Assist in Hurricane Recovery Efforts in Texas and Puerto Rico

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos announced today that the agency has deployed a fleet of 22 unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), or “drones,” across the state to enhance the state’s environmental management, conservation and emergency response efforts. 

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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  

Sept Oct 2016 Rick Harper
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

Tree planting Millbrook Oct 12 2017
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.

Call for Photography Submissions for 2018 NYS Arbor Day Poster

Arbor Day Poster

Above: 2017 Arbor Day Poster, Photo by Brad Wenskoski

Each year the public is invited to submit photography and/or artwork to be considered for the NYS Arbor Day Poster. It is a long time tradition and posters have become collectors’ items for many. NYSDEC will print 100,000 posters for distribution to the 3,500 NYS schools, the NYS Fair, and other venues. The winning artist will be honored at the annual state Arbor Day celebration.

Artwork and photography is now being accepted for the 2018 NYS Arbor Day Poster Contest. To submit your photography and/or artwork please complete artist information form and send it with your artwork attached to arborday@dec.ny.gov.

Submissions must be received by December 31st, 2017. Only photographs taken in New York State will be accepted. If your photograph features any distinguishable persons, a model consent form (PDF, 113 KB) must be included with your submission. Please submit images with a resolution of 300 dpi or higher.

Each year the public is invited to submit photography and/or artwork to be considered for the State Arbor Day Poster. It is a long time tradition and posters have become collectors’ items for many. We will print 100,000 posters for distribution to the 3,500 NYS schools, the NYS Fair and other venues. The winning artist will be honored at the annual state Arbor Day celebration.

Artwork and photography is now being accepted for the 2018 NYS Arbor Day Poster Contest. To submit your photography and/or artwork please complete artist information form (PDF, 46 KB), and send it with your artwork attached to arborday@dec.ny.gov.

Submissions must be received by December 31st, 2017. Only photographs taken in New York State will be accepted. If your photograph features any distinguishable persons, a model consent form must be included with your submission. Please submit images with a resolution of 300 dpi or higher.

NYC Parks Director of Forestry-Brooklyn Andrew Ullman on Containing Oak Wilt

owleaves1NYC Parks Director of Forestry for Brooklyn Andrew Ullman shares news of oak wilt containment efforts in that borough.

The image at left shows how oak wilt appears on the leaves of white oak (A) and on red oak (B). The leaves fall prematurely, with some green still present, from the affected trees.   

Andrew Ullman:

To date, there has only been one confirmed case of oak wilt in NYC (Brooklyn) though there are several known outbreaks on Long Island. Oak wilt was first confirmed in Brooklyn in Green-Wood Cemetery during the fall of 2016. It should be noted, this tree was on private property and therefore not under the jurisdiction of NYC Department of Parks and Recreation (NYC Parks). NYC Parks has sampled about a dozen trees that are presenting possible oak wilt symptoms. We are currently awaiting the results from the lab and expect to have them within the next few weeks.

The potential impacts on NYC’s urban forest are significant. Citywide, there are nearly 90,000 street trees in the oak genus. Oaks make up roughly 13% of our street trees, and there are many more oaks growing in our parks and natural areas. Oak wilt, caused by Ceratocystis fagacearum, is a lethal vascular wilt fungi. Symptoms include wilting, defoliation, and ultimately death of the host tree. The disease is transmitted by root grafts or insects and affects host trees in a manner similar to Dutch elm disease.

After the confirmed case of oak wilt in Brooklyn, NYC Parks created a proactive inspection program to inspect trees within the boundary established around the confirmed infection site. Parks has inspected all of the oaks trees growing on the streets and in our parks within that boundary. Between NYC Parks inspectors and our friends at Trees New York, we looked at more than 3,000 oak trees as part of this program. We have also created a contract specifically for managing oak wilt. The work completed under this contract will aid us in our efforts to control the spread of oak wilt if we do find it has spread beyond the initial infection site.

Additionally, we are working closely with NYSDEC, Green-Wood Cemetery, and Cornell University’s Plant Pathology Lab to coordinate response and share information. Finally, we are also limiting non-emergency work on oak trees during the growing season to limit the likelihood of spreading the disease.

Please see as well a previous post about preventing the spread of oak wilt with DEC Oak Wilt Operations Coordinator Jennifer Kotary.

 

 

“Trees for Bees” is Theme for 2018 Fifth Grader Arbor Day Poster Contest

Arbor Day Poster contestants 2015

The theme for the NYSDEC 2018 5th Grade Arbor Day Poster Contest is “Trees for Bees.” 5th graders are invited to submit original artwork incorporating this theme to help celebrate Arbor Day. Please review contest rules before submitting (they are also below).

The poster competition begins at the local elementary school level. Each school’s winning entry is then entered into a regional judging event. Nine regional champions are chosen and from these a final, statewide winner is selected who will be invited to celebrate at the State capitol in Albany and have a tree planted in their name at their school. Various other prizes are awarded to the statewide winner and their school. The New York State winner also receives the honor of having their artwork replicated as the NYS Arbor Day bookmark, which is distributed to schools and libraries all over the State. Approximately 2,000 students from around the State participate each year.

By participating in the annual Arbor Day poster contest, students learn about the importance of trees and how they affect the health and well being of our environment and the quality of life in our communities.

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Abigail Mahoney: 2017 NYSDEC Urban Forestry Intern

Abigail at Storm King Maya Linn installation
Abigail at Storm King Art Center, taking in the Maya Lin installation, “Wavefield.”

Please tell us about your internship experience, including anything surprising.  
Abigail Mahoney: I began the Urban and Community Forestry internship at NYSDEC shortly after completing my junior year at SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF) in the environmental policy, planning, and law program. As someone who is not specifically a forestry student, I had hoped this internship would expose me to new concepts and varying points of view while appealing to my existing interests.

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NYSUFC Partners with NYSDEC to Award 2017 Arbor Day Project Grants

Photo by Pat Evens
Photo by Pat Evens

For the third consecutive year, the New York State Urban Forestry Council has partnered with the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation as the administrative and award mechanism for community Arbor Day grants (once known as “Quick Start” grants), providing a total of $10,000 in grant monies to conduct an Arbor Day tree planting program and ceremony. These grants may be up to $1,000 for communities to conduct a tree planting event on their Arbor Day. Applications are reviewed by a committee of Council board members by means of a competitive ranking review once the communities meet the grant requirements.

In 2015, 12 communities applied, and all 12 communities received a grant. In 2016, 35 communities applied, and 13 were granted funding. For 2017, 18 communities applied to the Council and the committee was able to award $10,810 in grant monies this year to 12 worthy communities.

Our congratulations to the communities that were selected for grants this year: the towns of Fishkill, Mt. Hope, Rush, and Grand Island; the villages of Lewiston, Port Chester, Champlain, Nunda, Attica, Fair Haven, and Cambridge; and the City of Niagara Falls. We look forward to doing blog posts about their successful Arbor Day celebrations and planting events.

Please congratulate anyone you know from those communities on their success and continue to encourage other communities to apply for the grant next year. Just remind them that they can’t already be a grant recipient, an Arbor Day Foundation Tree City USA, or have any parts of the process to become a Tree City (such as a tree inventory or a management plan). This is because the Arbor Day grants are meant to help inexperienced communities begin to get involved in the exciting world of urban forestry! And please don’t forget to thank our partners at the DEC for sharing this opportunity with the Council. We really do appreciate their support and trust. Enjoy the green all summer! —Brian Skinner, Council Vice President 

Another Joyful Tree City/Tree Campus/Tree Line USA Awards Event

Beacon Tree City USA
Celebrating Beacon’s 20th year as a Tree City USA! (from left) NYSDEC Urban Forestry Program Assistant Mary Martin, City of Beacon Highway Superintendent Reuben Simmons Jr., DEC Region 3 Senior Forester George Profous, and NYSDEC Urban Forestry Partnerships Coordinator Sally Kellogg.

For the NYS urban and community forestry community, the annual Tree City/Tree Campus/Tree Line USA awards ceremony is always something delightful to look forward to in the last throes of winter. In 2017 it was held on March 30 in Albany and honored 115 Tree Cities statewide, 22 Tree Campuses, and 5 Tree Line Utilities. More than 130 people  from all 9 DEC regions attended, making it the most attended awards celebration yet.

Thank you to NYSDEC Urban Forestry Partnerships Coordinator Sally Kellogg for her help with this pictorial of highlights from the event. 

program

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The Red Hook Way: Town & Village Urban Forest Management Plans

Village Green and the Red Hook Town Tree Commission are pleased to share these urban forest management plans. Longtime Red Hook environmental advocate Brenda Cagle shares some background with us. 

Red Hook Town cover to use
The Town of Red Hook Forestry Management Plan is an example of a volunteer-created plan for a small community (pop. 8240). The Red Hook Town Tree Commission created the plan in 2013 after the completion of a street tree inventory conducted by the Hudson Valley Specialized Weekday Arborist Team (SWAT) and funded by a NYSDEC Cost-Share Grant. This plan is very readable and informative. Colorful and inspiring pictures are sprinkled throughout and keep the reader’s attention. In addition to guidelines for budgeting, planting, maintenance and outreach, the plan includes the entire street tree inventory, a master tree list, tree planting instructions, and a resource page.

Red Hook Village cover

The Village of Red Hook Forestry Management Plan (2004) is an another example of a volunteer-created plan for a small community (pop. 1961). In September, 2003, a street tree inventory was conducted by what was then called the Cornell Community Forestry Outreach Team. Village Green, the Village of Red Hook’s tree committee, created the forestry management plan the following spring. Some of the inventory findings—such as the lack of species diversity and the need for immediate maintenance or professional consultation—formed the basis of the plan. The Village used the plan to prioritize tree maintenance work and make informed planting choices. A second street tree inventory, funded by NYSDEC Cost-Share Grant dollars, was conducted in 2009. The results showed greater species diversity and lower maintenance needs, illustrating the value of having and plan and following it. This Village of Red Hook Plan would be most useful to those who have recently completed an inventory.