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.
Can you tell us about your childhood influences that foreshadowed getting interested in urban forestry?
Navé Strauss: I grew up in suburban Long Island with a father who is an arborist. My parents are both strong advocates of being outside and enjoying nature, and my father’s profession supplemented my relationship with the outdoors, peppering it with knowledge of trees and insects by default. I never thought I would end up an arborist, and didn’t know I’d be leading an incredible tree planting program in my home city, but here I am and I’m extremely humbled by the opportunity to serve and share my experience, just as my father did and does with me.
Please tell us about your educational and career trajectories.
NS: I graduated from St Lawrence University in Canton NY in 2008 with a Bachelor’s in Environmental Studies and an emphasis in Forestry. I started as a forester with NYC Parks soon thereafter in early 2009 and have continued my trajectory ever since, becoming a senior forester in 2014 and then director of the street tree planting program as of April 2016.
What do you enjoy so far about your current position? What are some challenges?
NS: I love the challenges themselves—the juxtaposition between the natural and built environs and the cultural diversity of the City that leads to many good conversations with residents who are passionate about trees—or about not having trees. In all, I enjoy the complexity of the tasks at hand, how they fold into our mission, and navigating the ship while learning from my superiors, peers, and staff.
What are a few things people might be surprised to know about street tree planting in NYC?
NS: We plant over 150 unique cultivars of trees in our public rights-of-way on an annual basis! That is an insane number, and we are extremely proud of our accomplishments in helping to diversify the City’s urban forest.
What is your ultimate vision for the NYC street tree planting program?
NS: To continue the upward arch of being the best street tree planting program in the world and to assure each and every New Yorker that every tree being planted is done so with every consideration in mind, even the ones they haven’t thought of (leave that to us). Finally, to know that each tree is set up to survive and thrive after our two-year establishment period has ended.
What are your interests in your free time?
NS: Cooking, reading, spending time with my loved ones, and playing guitar. I have many guitars, and I recognize that it’s a problem, but I am not ready to stop collecting.
Anything else you want to be sure to share?
NS: Talking to New Yorkers about the best slice of pizza is risky business—be prepared to hunker down and listen. Is it the sauce, the dough, the cheese, or the toppings? Many differ, even those who agree on politics.
Can you tell us about your childhood influences that foreshadowed getting interested in conservation, trees, and urban forestry?
Brenda Cagle: Growing up in West Virginia in the Ohio Valley surrounded by those beautiful hills must have been the beginning, for I can’t remember a time when I didn’t feel connected to trees, hills, or nature in general. It’s kind of a spiritual thing like watching a fire burn or looking at the ocean. Anyone who grows up there learns this first line to the state song: “Oh the West Virginia Hills, how majestic and how grand.” (Go Mountaineers!!)
When and how did you first get involved with NYSUFC? In what ways have you participated, and what has your involvement meant to you?
BC: I first joined NYSUFC in 2003 and became a board member in 2006 probably at Mary’s urging—don’t we all? I co-chaired the Region 3 ReLeaf Committee for several years with our regional forester, Lou Sebesta. It has definitely been a two-way street participating as a volunteer. I have been able to share our experiences in Red Hook with other communities as well learn from all the other members, professional and volunteer alike. Of course, I believe that Region 3* rocks! Friendly regional competition only brings us together. *[Region 3 is Dutchess, Orange, Putnam, Rockland, Sullivan, Ulster, and Westchester counties.]
Save the Rain is Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney’s comprehensive program to improve the environment and clean Onondaga Lake by reducing the stormwater runoff that enters the sewer system. There is a combined sewer system in Syracuse, and during heavy rainfalls the system overflows into the tributaries of Onondaga Lake. Save the Rain utilizes innovative green and gray infrastructure to capture stormwater, preventing combined sewer overflows (CSOs) and improving water quality. The Save the Rain Tree Planting Program has planted over 6,300 trees that, among other ecological services, can soak up stormwater runoff.
DEC’s Tree Nursery Offers Variety of Seedlings to Create Effective Windbreaks and Snow Fences
More than 50 species of trees and shrubs from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s (DEC) Saratoga Tree Nursery are now available to public and private landowners and schools, DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos announced today. Winter winds often cause blowing and drifting snow that can create hazardous road conditions, reduced visibility and other safety issues. Strong, cold winds may also reduce home heating efficiency, increase winter energy bills, and even impact unsheltered livestock herds. By planting rows of trees and shrubs at right angles to prevailing winds, an effective natural windbreak can be created.
“Living windbreaks can improve road conditions, protect livestock, create wildlife habitat, and save New Yorkers money on their utility bills,” Commissioner Seggos said. “DEC’s state tree nursery has a variety of seedling species for creating windbreaks. I encourage all New Yorkers to take advantage of this great resource and to work with our foresters and experts at the nursery to maximize the conservation benefits of your plantings.”
Schools Can Complete Conservation Planting for Free
Schools across New York are eligible to receive free seedlings for spring planting through the DEC School Seedling Program, which provides 50 tree seedlings or a mixed packet of 30 wildlife shrubs to any public or private school that would like to participate. The seedlings can be planted on school grounds or other community spaces, and offer teachers a great resource to enhance environmental lessons.
Applications to participate are available at DEC’s School Seedling Program page, by contacting the Saratoga Tree Nursery at (518) 581-1439, or by contacting the nearest DEC regional forestry office to request a “School Seedlings” brochure, which contains all the information necessary to place an order. Applications must be received at the nursery by March 31, 2017.
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.
Applications are due by February 28, 2017 and award recipients will be notified by the third week of March. 2017 Arbor Day Grant information packet
Round 13 of the NYSDEC Urban Forestry Grants Program was announced on December 22, 2016. NYSDEC Commissioner Basil Seggos has announced the availability of $2.3 million for Round 13. Applications are due by March 1, 2017.
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:
… with Trees for Tribs Coordinator Sarah Walsh
Trees for Tribs, as in tributaries, is a Department of Environmental Conservation program replanting New York’s streams. The program began in 2007 in the Hudson River Estuary and has since expanded statewide, working with partners across the state to plant native trees and shrubs for improved wildlife habitat, water quality, and storm resiliency.
The program works with private landowners, municipalities, schools, and conservation organizations, providing technical assistance, low- to no-cost native trees and shrubs, and tree tubes for planting sites. The program currently has coordinators on the ground in six watersheds (Champlain, Mohawk, Hudson Estuary, Croton, Upper Susquehanna, and lower Genesee). Trees for Tribs works with other organizations outside of these watersheds to coordinate projects on the ground.
Last spring, the City of Newburgh received a $20,000 TD Green Streets grant from TD Bank and the Arbor Day Foundation. The grant was submitted by City of Newburgh Conservation Advisory Council (CAC) members Kippy Boyle and Deborah Dresser and came to fruition with TREES ON LIBERTY, a tree planting event/celebration in October.“Trees on Liberty made possible the planting of 25 trees in a six block neighborhood in the historic Washington Heights district of the City of Newburgh,” Dresser says. “That was a great victory. But the greatest accomplishment was the community that was energized around trees. Something new, good, and wholesome was happening and the neighbors were proud to be a part of it.”
In addition to providing for trees, the grant also supported the purchase of a new City water truck.