The Council’s 2016 Annual Report is now available! Please help us circulate this document that tells the story of the NYSUFC’s many accomplishments in 2016.
Our annual report serves many functions including defining mission and enumerating goals and then showing how those have been pursued and achieved. It creates a historic record for the Council and is a fact-filled, handsomely designed and illustrated deliverable that can be shared with constituents, stakeholders, partners, and policy-makers.
Please distribute far and wide to anyone who may be interested in hearing about the Council’s work!
Council Board Member Mike DeMarco attended the 2017 Municipal Forestry Institute (MFI) on scholarship from the Council and NYSDEC. MFI is an immersive, weeklong leadership training for urban forestry professionals. Here, we learn about DeMarco’s takeaways from MFI, his current position, and his work and educational background.
DeMarco says, “I would like to give a big shout out and thank you to the New York State Urban Forestry Council and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. Without the support and positive push from members of these organizations, I would not have been able to take part in MFI 2017.”
Mike DeMarco: Prior to any thought of a career in urban forestry, I spent most of my early and mid-20’s following an obsession with creating music and working as a master control operator at WWNY- TV7, a local news station in my hometown of Watertown, NY. After a few years of work in TV, I felt that something was missing in my life—that is, until 2008 when I found Tree Watertown (Watertown’s Street Tree Advisory Board). I began attending meetings and quickly discovered my love for the urban forest.
Before I knew it, I was being mentored by two individuals that have since played a huge part in my journey. They encouraged me to pursue higher education and in the fall of 2012, I graduated from SUNY-ESF with a BS in Natural Resource Management and a minor in Urban Forestry.
The NYS Urban Forestry Council is pleased to announce available funding for small communities to have an Arbor Day tree planting event and to establish a community based forestry program. This funding has been provided by the USDA Forest Service and the NYS DEC Urban Forestry Program (and is NOT associated with the Arbor Day Foundation nor part of the NYS DEC EPF community grants program).
Grants of up to $1,000 will be awarded to communities or non-profits (that work in partnership with communities) to celebrate Arbor Day 2017 by both planting a tree (or trees) and forming a volunteer tree committee or tree board within the municipality. To be considered for a grant, please complete and return the enclosed application.
The intention of this grant is to help promote and establish a meaningful community forestry program. Ineligible for a grant are communities that are currently a Tree City USA, or those that have any component of the Tree City USA program such as a tree ordinance, tree board, inventory or management plan. Previous grant awardees are also ineligible.
So … to the surprise of many (including myself), I really did finally retire from National Grid at the end of October. After 45 years of enjoying the care of trees, service to innumerable individuals, mutual and professional associations with many industry friends, and decades of sharing knowledge and expertise whenever and wherever needed, it was time to hang up the hard hat and relish the thought of no-more-sawdust-in-my-shorts-at-the- end-of-the-work-day.
Those who know me well know that I’m a bit of a workaholic (OK, maybe a lot) and could never see retirement as a word that would ever flow from my lips … but it has! I had thought maybe I could help keep the good ship “Social Security” afloat, but also thought, maybe it’s time to get my share out before the sump pumps fail. So … what advice can I pass on to those still not close to that goal post?
Never be afraid to look back at the past; that’s (supposedly!) how we learn from our mistakes. How many mass failures of trees in our urban environment did it take before we finally subscribed to diversity in species selections when planting our streets? Yes, monocultures provide simplicity in appearances and management … until an invasive pest comes to visit.
Some blog posts resonate long past their original publication date date. Transplanting and a Deeper Look at “Fall Hazards” was one of the top five posts in 2015 and was the second most viewed post in 2016. Former 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.
Kristy King and NYC Forest Restoration: Dreaming Big for the City’s Natural Areas Many readers wanted to learn about the work of the NYC Natural Resources Group, which manages 5,000 acres of forested natural areas across the five boroughs of NYC, and about Director of Forest Restoration Kristy King. Her dream for NYC: “… that all forested areas are dominated by native species and that invasive species have been managed to the point that natural forest regeneration is occurring and that the public holistically values the natural resources in their area.”
NYSDEC Urban Forestry Intern Jennifer Kotary: Get to Know Her! Many blog readers were keen to know about this dynamic up-and-comer. “My internship research involved in-depth exploration of what communities are doing to protect and build green infrastructure across the state. Via Mary’s [Kramarchyk] assigned projects, I was able to produce tangible evidence that there is quite the statewide collective will to plant and nurture an expanding canopy as well as many career and volunteer opportunities to do so.”
SMA’s 2016 Urban Tree of the Year: Musashino Zelkova generated a lot of buzz. ‘Musashino’ has been a successful and popular street tree for many more years in Japan, proving itself useful as a narrow, upright form of zelkova. It can tolerate drought and heat and is pH adaptable and pollution tolerant. See a list of all the past SMA Urban Trees of the Year here.
Gary Raffel: Get to Know Him! Gary has served the Council in a variety of capacities, including as a board member. “I started Dynamic Tree Systems in 2002, offering general tree care service as well as Plant Health Care and Integrated Pest Management programs. I later wanted to find a niche in the industry and purchased a Tree Radar Unit at a time when there were only three of us in the U.S. and eleven people in the world using the equipment. A few years later I became the company’s international trainer, such that when a new unit was sold I would fly to the particular client and spend a week training them on their new equipment (I still do that, in addition to Dynamic Tree Systems).”
ISA Certified Arborist Christine (Chris) Manchester is the naturalist and sustainability coordinator for the Town of Dewitt, and as such she is heavily involved in the oversight of Dewitt’s urban forest. The NYSUFC provided financial assistance to Manchester to reimburse some of her expenses to attend the Partners in Community Forestry Conference last November 16-17 in Indianapolis. Additional support was provided by the Arbor Day Foundation and NYSDEC.
“I can’t thank the Council enough,” she says. “I had a great time, met some very interesting people (there were 559 registered), and gained valuable information. Thank you for this opportunity.” Manchester prepared a presentation about her take-aways from the conference and how they apply most to the work that she does for the Town of DeWitt. That presentation is excerpted here.
The opportunity to network with this many people who are facing many of the same challenges nationally doesn’t present itself every day. Through an informal tally, the majority of people raised their hands that they had been in urban forestry for less than 10 years. There were so many incredible presentations—but there were a couple of topics that resonated with me more than others. The take-aways for me were: 1) partnership/collaboration, 2) thinking about trees as infrastructure and incorporating plantings into streetscapes and 3) focusing on planting trees in poor residential areas.
The Council is tremendously pleased that three utility arborists have joined the Board: Orange and Rockland Utilities Manager of Vegetation Management Mark Beamish, NYSEG Lead Analyst Vegetation Manager Jeff Bell, and PSEG Long Island Forestry Supervisor Larry Ferrandiz.
Council Vice President and National Grid Senior Arborist Brian Skinner has, for more than two decades, provided a pivotal liaison role between the NYSUFC and the utility arboriculture world. He and fellow Council stalwart Marty Mullarkey helped the Council–and New York at large–see that utilities and communities can work together to build the urban forest while maintaining safe and efficient power delivery.
Skinner says, “While National Grid has been a big part of the Board for the past 20 years, it’s a great time and opportunity to have such wide representation for our other statewide electric and/or gas providers representing such diverse parts of the state. Their participation on the Council will demonstrate that utilities and communities exist in a partnership that can greatly benefit both. Hopefully, the knowledge that National Grid has shared with those on the Council will continue to grow that much more with these new partners on board.”
Skinner posed three questions to his fellow utility arborists: What do you bring to the Council Board? How can utilities help shape the thought processes behind community tree plantings? and, What programs or opportunities does your utility offer to promote “Right Tree, Right Place” plantings?
The Council is creating a compendium of urban forest master plans, management plans, and reports. Look to these when crafting your community’s first or updated Plan … and when you do have yours in place, kindly send it our way! We’ll add it to this growing collection of fine templates from around our state.
Note: NYS EPF (aka Cost-Share) Urban Forestry grant funds are available for management plans or master plans, provided these plans include a specific work schedule made up of goals, tasks, and a timeline.
Communities that are just getting their urban forestry programs up and running, take note of this grant opportunity! In future posts, we’ll highlight some of the 2016 celebrations from grant-recipient communities. Stay tuned to the TAKING ROOT monthly e-news to find out when the next round of Arbor Day grant applications opens for 2017 tree plantings/celebrations.
From Brian Skinner, Council Vice President:
For the second year, the NYSUFC partnered with the NYSDEC in taking on the administrative and award mechanism for Arbor Day grants (previously known as “Quick Start” AD grants), providing up to $10,000 total in grant monies for communities to conduct 2016 Arbor Day tree planting programs and ceremonies.
Communities that apply and those that are successful are not burdened with the paper mountains, contracts, forms, times delays, etc. that are typical of the much larger State grants. These are Arbor Day grants of up to $1,000 per community to conduct a tree planting event. Since they are meant to assist communities just getting started in their urban forestry efforts, applicants cannot be an existing Tree City USA community or have an ordinance, master plan, or have gotten the grant previously. Simple, less paper, quick turn-around, 50% of your funds up front, simple documentation, only one or two people to deal with, questions answered quickly and directly … a grant writer’s dream!
In 2015, 12 communities from around the State applied, and because some did not request the full $1,000 for their AD projects, the Council was able to award all 12 communities a grant. Word of the simplicity, ease, and success of the process must have spread, because in 2016, 35 communities applied, making the Arbor Day project grants committee work much more difficult and challenging. Council volunteers reviewed the applications and associated documentation and narrowed down the applicants (very tough competition, by the way!), eventually selecting 13 communities to receive a part of the grant funding. Due to some leftover funding from last year and some additional outside funding that was made available for such programmed events, the committee was able to award over $11,400 in grant requests this year.
Our congratulations to all the communities that were selected for grants this year: the towns of Alden, Ellington, Naples, North Greenbush, Pound Ridge, and Unionvale; the villages of Dansville, Orchard Park, Otisville, Perry, and Tivoli; and Friends of Parish (Parish) and Friends of Washington Park (Troy). Please congratulate anyone you know from those communities on their success and continue to encourage other communities to apply next year. And don’t forget to thank the DEC for partnering with the Council for this! Little steps such as this encourage participating communities to look at their trees now with a goal of becoming an Arbor Day Foundation Tree City USA, which in itself has a whole different set of requirements … and we know they’re all up to that challenge.