If you’ve ever visited Utica (perhaps for a past ReLeaf conference), you know what a treasure the City’s Olmsted-designed Parks and Parkway System is. The Central New York Conservancy has preserved and restored the Parks and Parkway System, listed in the State and National Registers of Historic Places, since 2002.
After 15 years, the nonprofit organization is establishing its first-ever office, and in the most ideal location, in Utica. Thanks to a generous donation of property by the family of the late Albert Shaheen, M.D., the Conservancy has begun renovations to its new office located at 1641 Genesee Street.
Ashleigh Pettus is the Operations Manager & Environmental Educator for Trees New York. She coordinates the organization’s summer Young Urban Forester Internship, which began in 2008.
Can you tell us about your educational background and how you came to Trees New York? Ashleigh Pettus: I graduated from Lehman College in 2016 with a BA in History and Minor in Childhood Education. I spent my winter and spring breaks volunteering; one of my most memorable spring breaks is when we traveled to Perryville, Arkansas to spend a week at Heifer International. There, I learned about rural farming and sustainability; I loved it so much, I went back and spent three months there.
When I came back to NYC, I wanted to share my knowledge but it had to be adapted to an urban setting. I found Just Food and taught some of their Farm School NYC classes. Soon after that I worked at Wave Hill in the Bronx, where I started to learn tree identification, fell in love with trees, and realized I wanted to focus my energy there. I was fortunate to be hired by Trees New York in the summer of 2015 to be an environmental educator. Eventually I became the Young Urban Forester Internship program coordinator as well. It’s a pleasure to share the things I’ve learned in this environmental field with my summer interns.
Please tell us about the internship. AP: Trees New York’s Young Urban Forester Internship is a seven-week, 175-hour urban and community forestry paid experience. The goal of the annual summer program is to introduce up to 16 high school juniors and seniors from low-income households in New York City to careers in the fast-growing field of environmental science and in urban forestry specifically.
NYC’s Natural Areas Conservancy welcomed nine summer field interns from the City University of New York (CUNY). Over the course of eight weeks, the CUNY teams are studying NYC’s ecological health in 12 parks in Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Queens.
Led by Conservancy ecologists, the students are collecting data on plants and soil to help direct improvement of natural areas citywide. You can watch their progress and learn more about their findings by following The Natural Areas Conservancy on social media. The Conservancy thanks the Leon Levy Foundation, Lise Strickler, and Mark Gallogly for supporting this program.
Meet the interns:
Photo taken at Marine Park, Brooklyn
Front row: Irina Arias (environmental engineering); Uziel Crescenzi (landscape architecture); Kenia Pittman (landscape architecture); Brian Stonaker (biology); Merna Youssef (physics and mathematics); Stephanie Cando (biology).
Back row: Renee Montelbano (urban sustainability); Rafael Arias (environmental engineering); Harmanveer Singh (environmental science and urban studies).
On the 47th Annual Earth Day on April 22, 2017, New York Restoration Project (NYRP) and young people from the Student Conservation Association (SCA), in its 60th year, teamed up in Riverbank State Park in Manhattan to help “ConSERVE” New York City. Together they gave away 250 native trees—like tulip poplar, serviceberry, and black tupelo—to NYC residents. Seven hundred volunteers came out to give away trees, make native seed balls to be planted throughout the city, make recycled seed starters, conduct field research, and paint and assemble boards for park benches.
Landscape architect and longtime Council Board Member Art Traver works for Wendel Companies out of their Buffalo office.
Were there childhood influences foreshadowing your career? Art Traver: I think I first noticed the “environment” when I was in Boy Scouts. Our troop had their own camp in Wyoming County. My interest really kicked in when our family took over the camp property in the 80s. As we started to manage the property, I began to notice the stands of hardwoods, softwoods, and evergreens.
What has been your educational trajectory leading to arboriculture? AT: I would say I fell into arboriculture. I worked at local nurseries and garden centers growing up. When I started college at Alfred State, I studied architecture and then civil engineering but at the time, neither of these seemed appealing enough to pursue. I took some time away from school and worked for myself in the landscape design-build world. I found my way to Niagara County Community College and received a certificate for horticulture. Getting back into school got the learning bug going, so I found myself back at Alfred State, this time in the horticulture/landscape development program. After receiving my associate’s degree from Alfred, I enrolled at SUNY-ESF for landscape architecture and received my BLA.
Story and images by Mark McPherson, Executive Director of the Urban Forest Carbon Registry
The urban forests of the U.S. are long overdue to earn certified carbon credits. Carbon buyers purchased $700 million in carbon credits in the U.S. over the last decade ($4.5 billion worldwide). Yet not a single dollar of that money can go to the trees in the cities and towns of America.
Everyone in urban forestry knows the documented benefits of ecosystem services provided by trees in cities, yet urban forests receive relatively little funding as municipalities struggle to meet basic utility and human service needs. Furthermore, urban tree canopy is being lost in many cities due to growth and development.
The Urban Forest Carbon Registry (the Registry) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that is working to make it possible for urban tree planting and preservation projects to earn and sell carbon credits. Money from the sale of the credits would go directly to the projects that earned those credits.
The Registry has developed practical carbon protocols for urban forestry projects. These protocols, one for tree planting and one for tree preservation, will be the “rulebooks” that projects must follow to earn certified credits.
The Registry assembled a drafting group of national stakeholders from many areas of urban forestry including Greg McPherson, Scott Maco, and Andy Trotter to address the quantification issues—as well as representatives of municipal forestry, non-profit tree organizations, utilities, transportation professionals, and watershed experts. You can view the protocols on the Registry website at www.ufregistry.org.
These are the four categories: · Tree inventory · Tree management plan · Tree planting · Tree maintenance
Awards range from $11,000 to $75,000, depending on municipal population. Municipalities with populations of 65,000 or greater are eligible for grants up to $75,000. Towns with populations less than 65,000 are able to apply for up to $50,000. For inventory and management plan grants, no match is required. For planting and maintenance grants, there is a required 25% match.
These grants are made available through the Environmental Protection Fund to municipalities, nonprofits, soil and water conservation districts, school districts, community colleges, Indian nations or tribes, public benefit corporations, and public authorities.
A free webinar about the grant application process will be offered on Thursday, January 5th at 2 p.m. Registration is required.
To see the instructions and application, Go to the NYS Grants Gateway then go to Browse Opportunities > DEC > 2016 Urban and Community Forestry Grants Program (Round 13)- Tree Planting or Tree Maintenance Projects.
On our NYSUFC blog you can see examples of what the following municipalities and other entities did with their past cost-share grant dollars, excerpts from their application narratives, and advice they have to offer to new applicants:
You may have noticed that every summer the ReLeaf conference gets an infusion of youthful energy when members of the Onondaga Earth Corps attend. Here, we learn more about this Syracuse-based organization from OEC Program Coordinator and SUNY ESF grad Adrienne Canino. “OEC is a community organization dedicated to creating jobs for youth here in Syracuse and bringing people together to understand the value of trees in our city,” she says.
Here’s a terrific video about the range of activities OEC is involved with:
The Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy (BOPC) honors ten “Frederick Law Olmsted Award” recipients who stepped up after the October 12-13, 2006 freak snowstorm in which more than 12,000 trees in the City’s Olmsted-designed park system were damaged by nearly 2 feet of snow. Here’s an excellent video about the storm, its aftermath, the Olmsted Award winners, and the current state of the urban forest that BOPC manages.
You’ll note one of the honorees is Re-Tree WNY, an all-volunteer group established on November 3, 2006 by a group of about 40 Western New York residents who wanted to respond to the devastation. The group, chaired by radio executive Paul Maurer, has planted 28,112 trees and is working toward its goal of 30,000 trees across the 18 Western NY municipalities affected by the storm. (The goal is expected to be reached by November, 2018.) Some of the other munis affected include Amherst, Williamsville, Tonawanda, Kenmore, Cheektowoga, and Clarence. They have all met their planting goals, with Buffalo not far behind. The 30,000 trees are in addition to replacement trees planted by the munis themselves.
This story comes to us from Bronx River Alliance Deputy Director Maggie Greenfield and Natural Areas Conservancy Communications and Public Outreach Manager Nicole Brownstein.
The Bronx River has seen its fair share of history. It was first called the Aquehung, or “River of High Bluffs” by the local Native Americans. Two tribes, the Weckquaesgeek and Siwanoy, drank the river’s water, fished along its banks, and hunted in the surrounding woods. The river also held a spiritual significance for them and was a place for ritual baths each year. Jonas Bronck arrived in 1639, brokered a deal with the Native Americans for 500 acres along the river, and turned it into farmland.
Mills sprang up along the river, harnessing its energy and using it as a natural flowing sewer system. As the manufacturing industry fell into decline and the mills began to disappear, the river remained a dumping site for the surrounding communities. This was before we fully knew or cared about the effects of industrial and residential waste dumping.
It wasn’t until the environmental movement picked up in the mid-1970s that the restoration process began along the 23-mile river. In the late 1990s, the Bronx River Working Group was founded, with more than 60 community organizations and businesses combining efforts to orchestrate work along the river. The spirit of this effort led to the creation of the Bronx River Alliance, a group dedicated to restoring the waterway. When they began their work, these activists found objects as bizarre as refrigerators, tires, and even a wine press in the river. Today the river’s health is returning, evidenced by the long-awaited appearance of river herring, American eel, eastern oyster, and beavers. But our work is not yet done.