By Lori Brockelbank, NYSUFC Treasurer and Certified Arborist/Municipal Specialist, Wendel Companies
The first-ever Western NY CommuniTREE Stewardship Program instruction has come to a close for most of the participants, but the learning and experience continues. You can read more about the program’s mission and partners on this earlier blog post. Out of the 20 people that initially signed up for the course, 13 completed the classroom requirements.
At the conclusion of the classroom sessions, I will admit I had my doubts about whether the students had truly received enough training to go out on their own. I know personally I learn more when I get my hands dirty and I am in the field applying the classroom instruction. A few of the students expressed the same concerns; for this reason each student is required to volunteer 10 hours of supervised field time doing tree planting and/or small tree pruning in a variety of places throughout the City of Buffalo. This field work is a great chance for students to get further coaching and ask questions.
I am a full-time graduate student in the SUNY ESF Landscape Architecture Department, but I am currently working as a summer aide within the City of Syracuse Urban Forestry Department. Most of my job entails working out in the field performing inspections and inventory and writing up pruning
prescriptions for both mature and newly planted trees.
The Skidmore ReLeaf conference was the first of its kind that I have attended. I never knew how tightly knit the NYS urban forestry community was. Everyone was very supportive and curious of the work others have done, and there was a constant level of excitement present in all of the interactions I witnessed.
The presentations were all very interesting and many of them demonstrated the effectiveness of various tools and practices within the profession. For example, I learned that vegetation management through the use of a fire regime has been effective and even approved as a management practice in designated places within an area as densely populated as the Albany-Colonie region. Specific examples like this can put a positive spin on the use of fire as a management technique and hopefully educate the greater public about the benefits that controlled burns have on our forest and urban forest ecosystems. —Kate Littlefield
Did you know that scholarships toward registration for the annual ReLeaf conference are available through the DEC for qualified applicants? These folks received awards this year.
Dewitt’s Nicholas Quilty-Koval:
The Releaf Conference was fantastic. It was a great experience and I was able to talk to many great people who encouraged me to pursue my goal of a career in urban planning.
In my community I have the opportunity to go door-to-door and talk to people about receiving a free tree. I am involved in the Save The Rain program for the Town of Dewitt. This program works with OEC (Onondaga Earth Corps) in an attempt to educate the nearby community about the benefits of trees as well as saving the rain. Our goal is to plant trees in the local area in order to do things such as decrease the amount of flooding, improve the air quality, and improve the appearance of the neighborhoods. I am also involved in the Town’s attempt to save ash trees that have been impacted by emerald ash borer. I have marked trees for removal as well as treatment. I also work with database software to help track the trees in our area.
Every aspect of the conference gave me insight into new topics and I learned a lot. It also connected ideas that I had originally been exposed to in my first year at college. There are many great takeaways that I received from the conference; the biggest one came from the Urban Wood Utilization talks with Jim Maloney and Tom Derby. I learned that we should not grind up ash and other trees into mulch, but instead should try to make them into something more useful and high-value, from a bench to a turkey call. Doing this would allow for more revenue from the tree and more meaningful products. I learned that marketing is a big key to the success of this idea of reusing the wood from urban trees.
My colleague Jeff Shimonski was the director of horticulture for Jungle Island in Miami, Florida for 39 years. He retired from that position in 2014 and now works as an urban forestry consultant. He also continues to write about horticulture for a variety of publications, including the Biscayne Times, for which he’s written 72 columns.
“Ever since I started working professionally in horticulture I always wanted to write articles for newspapers, magazines, and journals,” he says. “It was a big thrill for me to get published for the first time in an international journal.”
I remember that thrill, too. I’ve been freelance writing since 1998 and freelance editing since 2005. I can relate to both sides of the editor’s desk. I’ve been the writer whose submissions are rejected, and I’ve been the editor who had to do some polite rejecting. I have some thoughts to share based on my familiarity with both sides of the exchange.
Why write about urban forestry? First of all, our field needs more advocacy and visibility, in the form of online or print features, columns, and letters to the editor. The more publications we have a presence in—from small-town papers to national magazines and blogs—the more the field of urban forestry is elevated. You may also be motivated to write for the sheer pleasure and gratification of it, for a little extra money, to develop your writing ability, or to help promote your business. Sharing your expertise in a lively way is an effective form of marketing yourself, your company, or the nonprofit you’re involved with, while getting urban forestry out in the public eye.
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).
Our Council blog was viewed more than 14,000 times in 2015! Here are the top five posts:
Sumana Serchan: Get to Know Her! Sumana Serchan is an urban forester with NYC Parks and Recreation. Sumana has a master’s degree in Environmental Management from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and a bachelor’s degree in Natural Resources/Conservation from the Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources (University of Vermont). She grew up in Kathmandu City, Nepal.
Transplanting and a Deeper Look at “Fall Hazards” NYC Director of Street Tree Planting Matt Stephens and Taking Root Editor Michelle Sutton coauthored this story questioning commonly held beliefs about “fall hazards,” mostly as it applies to B&B trees, but they also discuss the interaction of the fall season with other production methods, like bare root. Nina Bassuk helped craft the section called “The Five Branches of Transplanting Success,” which should be of interest to anyone planting trees.
A New Method for Streamlining Tree Selection in NYCCouncil President and NYC Parks Senior Forester David Moore shares how the City streamlined its system for making tree species selections for 25,000 street tree plantings a year using an ingenious categorization of “biotopes.” A municipality of any size can use this article to think strategically about their tree selection process.
The Society of Municipal Arborists (SMA), with funding from the Urban Forest Foundation, sponsors municipal arborist exchanges. The purpose is to create a way for municipal arborists to exchange urban forestry expertise, management ideas, and technology through in-person contact and on-site experience. What better way to find out how other forestry practitioners operate than to spend time with each other?
In the past year, NYC’s Director of Street Tree Planting Matthew Stephens visited Casey Trees in Washington, D.C. (you can read about his experiences here) and Casey Trees Arborist for Residential Plantings Marty Frye came to NYC Parks. Here’s what Marty learned from his time in the City. [Side note: The SMA is exploring opening up the exchange to utility arborists and to nonprofit community forestry professionals.]
New York City Parks is exemplifying what strong, informed municipal work in the public interest should look like. I had the distinct pleasure of spending time with members of the New York City Parks Department, digging into the nuts and bolts of how this work gets done. I also had the opportunity to compare both the wild side of the “back woods” of New York with its street side counterpart. This arborist exchange was professionally exhilarating and left me craving more knowledge.
NYSUFC Board Member Jeff Kehoe is an ISA Certified Arborist and consulting forester based out of Schenectady, NY. He has a lifelong appreciation for trees, and advanced degrees in forest management and urban planning.
Jeff participated in recent Urban Forest Strike Team (UFST) training in Syracuse organized by NYS DEC Urban Forestry Program Coordinator Mary Kramarchyk.
When I first heard about the USFT training I felt it would be an exciting way to learn more about risk tree assessment and add to my urban forestry toolkit. Also, it was a great opportunity to meet accomplished tree professionals from all over the eastern United States. The Craftsman Inn, inspired and furnished by Stickley, was a cozy setting for arborists and urban foresters to share their stories. Despite the rain, we geared up and assessed trees in and around Green Lakes State Park and Fayetteville, NY.
Every tree is unique and each observer has a different perspective on how and why a tree may fail. Strike Team responders use a streamlined evaluation process which closely follows recent ISA Tree Risk Assessment Qualification (TRAQ) standards. One of the training highlights for me was using the TRAQ program as the backbone for data collection and target/risk assessment. This advanced training uses complex language to objectively describe a potential natural occurrence. We focused on the defect in the tree which is most likely to fail within one year, the likelihood of the failure impacting a target, and the consequences of failure if it actually occurs.
It is surprising how specific and expensive dealing with trees can be, and disaster preparedness cannot be stressed enough. The cost and scale of damages can overwhelm regional resources and local budgets in a matter of minutes. Assessments made by Strike Team arborists can save healthy trees destined for the grinder or lead to improvement of a tree’s structure after emergency measures leave stub cuts or tears. Strike Team leaders stationed on-site will process field data to help control spending for FEMA, as well as the affected communities.
I applaud the USFT program, trainers, and attendees for their dedication to ensure safety for people and trees. Overall, it was an excellent experience, although having to use these newfound skills will be bittersweet.
Urban Forest Strike Teams (UFSTs)are a means for city foresters, state foresters, commercial arborists, and others to quickly come to the aid of a region whose urban forest has been impacted by a natural disaster.UFSTs conduct assessments that help communities plan needed recovery work and document to FEMA the amount of damage and cost of clean-up.You can read all about the UFSTs on this past blog post.
Organized by our state DEC UF coordinator Mary Kramarchyk, a UFST training for professionals from the Northeast area of the US Forest Service took place in Syracuse on Sept 30-Oct 1.
Tioga County Cornell Cooperative Extension Horticulture Educator Barb Neal took the training along with many other Council members. She has an extensive background as a consulting arborist.
It sounded interesting to me and worthwhile, especially after seeing the damage from Superstorm Sandy and how much need there was for the UFST then. My executive director, Andy Fagan was on board and supportive of the UFST training to enable me and others to help out our local NY communities in the future.
It’s always good to meet other arborists and foresters in New York, and the training was a very good a blend of class presentations and going out in the field to practice both risk assessment and using the equipment: GPS Trimble and data logger. In the field, things that seemed simple were actually a little more nuanced than you would think. For instance, we kept having to think about the documentation requirements for FEMA and how we would record appropriately to fulfill those requirements.
Sometimes we would talk for ten or fifteen minutes about one tree in light of FEMA requirements. In the real world, you don’t have time to do that, but it was really valuable to slow down and work through that during the training. We all had to separate in our minds what FEMA requires from you vs. what you as an urban forest manager might do.
It was very well run and also very interesting hearing some of the war stories, like from the forester from Springfield, MA, whose city got hit with three storms in one year including an ice storm and a tornado that ripped a 40-mile swath of destruction from Springfield to Sturbridge. He was a big believer in the UFST after they came and worked for his jurisdiction.
My big takeaway was that municipalities have to be prepared with storm management plans in place prior to a storm event. The more you prepare, the faster the response will be and the more likely you will get reimbursed by FEMA. Also the better your existing documentation is, the more likely FEMA will pay something toward the removals of trees that were standing hazards at the time of the storm. Or if you have good documentation about how you currently manage your street trees, FEMA will reimburse for structural pruning as long as that’s documented as a normal part of your work. I will be advising the urban foresters in my area to get organized with all these things in mind.
I would wholeheartedly recommend the training to other arborists and urban foresters. It’s one of those things where hopefully we don’t ever get deployed or only very rarely, but the more people we have that we can call in, the more responsive we can be after a federal emergency. The training was fun, too.
As we gear up for our NY ReLeaf Conference this week, it’s fitting to learn the essential history of the 1990 Farm Bill, to which all who care about urban and community forestry are indebted. This entry was written by Andy Hillman with help from Mary Kramarchyk and Nancy Wolf.
This year we celebrate a milestone in urban and community forestry. It is the twenty-fifth anniversary of the 1990 Farm Bill. It is no exaggeration to say that in 1990 urban and community forestry entered a new era in the United States. The national commitment to urban forestry on the part of the federal government was a component of the 1990 Farm Bill that fundamentally changed the nation’s approach to managing urban and community forestry.
This seminal legislation started New York State down the path that has led to the existence of NY ReLeaf and the New York State Urban Forestry Council. In 1991, increased funding for urban forestry led to new rules from the USDA Forest Service for its urban forestry work. All 50 states, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, islands of the Pacific, and the District of Columbia were required to create an urban forestry program under the leadership of state foresters, to hire a volunteer coordinator who would coordinate the state’s program with local professionals and volunteers, and to establish an urban forestry council as an advisory group for the program.
The volunteer coordinator and the state council were expected to set up the statewide program in coordination with the state USFS agency. This cooperative plan would establish the capacity to promote volunteer activities related to planting, maintaining, or protecting urban forest resources and for broad-based educational projects. New York State created the program to its fullest extent and has become recognized as one of the leaders in urban forestry in the nation.
A national urban forestry research plan was also called for in the 1990 Farm Bill. The research into urban forests, human health, and environmental quality that is carried out by the USDA Forest Service Northern Research Station in Syracuse is a direct result of this mandate in the 1990 Farm Bill. Today, we benefit from Dr. David Nowak’s research involving environmental or ecosystem services from the urban forest thanks to this watershed legislation.
Furthermore, owing to this legislation, this annual ReLeaf Conference has generated activities performed by over 7,000 volunteers living in 767 communities in New York being served by urban forestry enthusiasts.The 2015 New York ReLeaf Conference, with the theme of Environmental Science and Urban Forestry, serves as evidence of success of what began in the 1990 Farm Bill twenty five years ago.
Welcome to the New York State Urban Forestry Council Website