On the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend, the Town of Fishkill celebrated Arbor Day with the help of an Arbor Day grant administered through NYSUFC. The funding was used to add white pines, a river birch, and boxwood shrubs to a open stretch of lawn in front of the Town’s War Memorial, a multi-level site with a waterfall and places to sit.
On May 6, the Village of Champlain on the west shore of Lake Champlain in Clinton County held its first-ever Arbor Day Celebration with financial assistance from the NYSUFC. The Celebration kicked off a wave of the Village’s revitalization efforts centering on the playground, pavilion, basketball courts, and Village green. Five maple trees were planted on the Champlain Playground with the help of Girl Scouts and other volunteers. Community members participated in a Tree ID walk and heard from the high school outdoors club; the Girl Scouts read nature poetry; and children participated in arts and crafts in the nearby Champlain Meeting House. For a first-ever Arbor Day Celebration, it was very extensive!
The Village of Port Chester in the Town of Rye in Westchester County recently wrapped up its Arbor Day Kick-Off Event, funded in part by an Arbor Day Grant from the NYSUFC. Port Chester Mayor’s Office, Department of Public Works, and Department of Planning & Economic Development organized the replanting of trees on the median of Haines Boulevard where a monoculture of pin oaks had succumbed to oak wilt.
The grant from the NYSUFC helped pay for the 20 replacement trees, which include ornamental cherry and pear and Japanese maples. The smaller-stature trees are more suitable for the space they’re afforded in the median, and the flowering ones have the added benefit of providing beauty in spring. The Village diversified the planting palette to create more biodiversity that will help avoid tree losses from diseases and insects in the future.
In order to generate interest in the event, Village staff canvassed every property along Haines Boulevard to speak with residents and invite them to the Arbor Day Kick-Off. The Westmore News was invited to attend the event along with the Village of Port Chester Board of Trustees, Village Beautification Commission, and Village Parks Commission. Mayor Richard “Fritz” Falanka attended to say a few words about the event and help dig the first hole for the trees; Highway Department staff ably completed the task.
The event was a huge success, and has drummed up a lot of interest in beautification and the role of trees and landscaping in enhancing the aesthetics of the Village. The Village Board of Trustees has directed staff to take a more active approach in planting and replanting efforts throughout the Village. Further, the Village is soon to release an Owner’s Manual for Green Infrastructure, which will aid property owners and the Village in combining low-impact development efforts with planting practices that can better retain stormwater and reduce pressures on the Village’s gray infrastructure.
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
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.