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Arbor Day Celebration: Utica

Ruth Meier, a Master Gardener from the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Oneida County assists student volunteers from the Notre Dame High School NJROTC with properly planting and mulching one of 20 katsuras that will help restore the Olmsted-designed tree canopy in Utica's FT Proctor Park. (photo (c) 2015 Roger B. Smith)
Ruth Meier, a Master Gardener from the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Oneida County assists student volunteers from the Notre Dame High School NJROTC with properly planting and mulching one of 20 bare root katsuras that will help restore the Olmsted-designed tree canopy in Utica’s FT Proctor Park. (photo (c) 2015 Roger B. Smith)

Arbor Day was celebrated on Friday, April 24, and the Central New York Conservancy celebrated it in style with the City of Utica!

The 3-day weekend event honored the spirit of Arbor Day, with local tree experts donating their time and talent to remove and prune trees, two lectures about safety procedures when working around trees and proper pruning, the planting of numerous trees, and a ceremonial tree planting in FT Proctor Park. All events were free and open to the public.

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The Red Hook Way, Part II: Cost-Share Grant Success

In 2011, the Town of Red Hook Tree Commission successfully applied for a Round 10 NYS DEC Urban and Community Forestry Cost-Share grant that they used for a tree inventory and tree planting.

Victoria Rolfe and Nancy Gurski working on the Town of Red Hook's tree inventory. Photo courtesy Red Hook Tree Commission
Victoria Rolfe (standing) and Nancy Guski working on the Town of Red Hook’s tree inventory. Photos courtesy Red Hook Tree Commission

The example provided by the excellent Red Hook Grant NARRATIVE will be of interest to your community as you prepare your cost-share grant applications for Round 13 later this year (stay tuned to NYSDEC’s web page about the grants for the timetable).

After the grant monies were put to use in 2011-2013, Red Hook Tree Commission Chair Nancy Guski prepared a final report that follows. Along with the grant narrative linked above, this report is recommended reading for any community thinking about applying for cost-share grants later in 2015.

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The Red Hook Way, Part I: Stellar Tree Commission

by Brenda Cagle, Red Hook Councilwoman

Q: What do you call a highly functioning, well-informed, enthusiastic tree Committee? 
A: The Town of Red Hook Tree Commission (TC)

Who cares
The Red Hook Tree Commission worked with young community volunteers on planting at the Town of Red Hook Recreation Park. They renovated five tree lawns with 17 new trees. The Boy Scouts and the Linden Avenue Middle School environmental club, WHO CARES, helped plant. Photos Courtesy Red Hook Tree Commission

~Background~
This amazing group of seven people is “doing it by the book” and more. Led by chairperson Nancy Guski, a retired elementary school teacher, the committee is comprised of a landscape professional, a former planning board member, another retired teacher, two retired dentists, and a nature lover and eagle expert. All participate according to their talents and time but the key is that they ALL participate.

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A Perennially Joyful Urban Forestry Recognition Ceremony

Red Hook's Brent Kovalchik and Frances Uku
(left to right) NYS DEC Urban Forestry Program Assistant Sally Kellogg with the Village of Red Hook’s Deputy Mayor Brent Kovalchik and Village Green Committee member Frances Uku. The Village has been a Tree City USA for 14 years.

The 9th annual Tree City/Line/Campus USA Recognition Ceremony was held on March 26, 2015 in Albany where over 40 communities were in attendance including the longest-running Tree City USA, Poughkeepsie NY, represented by Tree Committee member Virginia Hancock.

New York State has 110 Tree City USAs, 6 Tree Line USA utilities, and 14 Tree Campus USAs. These programs were created by the Arbor Day Foundation and the National Association of State Foresters to recognize the stewardship of urban forests by communities.

ST JOHNS TC USA
Congrats, St. John’s University, on entering your 4th year as a Tree Campus USA!

Tree City USA is a program that provides direction, technical assistance, public attention and national recognition for urban and community forestry programs in thousands of towns and cities that more than 93 million Americans call home. A complete list of all communities is posted on DEC’s website at: http://www.dec.ny.gov/lands/5272.html.

Speakers for the March event included organizations from USFS, Cazenovia College, and NYS DEC, the NYS DEC Commissioner Joe Martens was also in attendance of the event and showed his support of the programs.

poster winner
Congrats to winning Arbor Day poster artist Nayeon Park, here with her brother and mother and State Urban Forestry Coordinator Mary Kramarchyk (left) and Program Assistant Sally Kellogg (right)

2015bookmarkThe Department also recognized the 2015 DEC Arbor Day Poster Contest winner Nayeon Park, a 5th Grader from P.S. 209 Clearview Gardens School in Whitestone, Queens, New York. The theme of this year’s children’s artwork was Tree-Mendous Trees of New York. Read on for more pics from the event.

 

 

 

 

 

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Nina Bassuk Receives Frederick Law Olmsted Award from Arbor Day Foundation

RELEAF 255Last fall, the NYSUFC nominated beloved Cornell Urban Horticulture Institute (UHI) Director and longtime former Council President Nina Bassuk for the Arbor Day Foundation’s Frederick Law Olmsted Award. Current Council President Andy Hillman read the award description and said, “This appears to have been written for Nina!”

The Frederick Law Olmsted award recognizes an outstanding individual with a lifelong commitment to tree planting and conservation at a state or regional level. Further, it honors someone who: shows outstanding personal commitment over their career or lifetime for the betterment of the environment, mobilizes people in tree planting and care, makes unique or extraordinary contributions and commitment with regards to tree planting, landscape, conservation, education, or research, and serves as a role model and mentor to others.

The Council is so very pleased to announce that Nina received the Frederick Law Olmsted Award for 2015. Here is a video the Arbor Day Foundation made about Nina’s work that shows why she was the perfect candidate:

It was challenging to summarize Nina’s accomplishments in the three pages indicated by the award nomination guidelines. Here are some highlights:

  • Thanks to Dr. Bassuk’s research and extension efforts in bare root transplanting technology, tens of thousands of trees have been planted in New York and the greater Northeast that would otherwise not have been. In 2014 alone, 8800 bare root trees were purchased by 93 municipalities across 11 states from Schichtel’s Nursery in Western NY.
  • Dr. Bassuk has been the City of Ithaca Shade Tree Advisory Committee Chair since 1985, and she served on the Ithaca Parks Commission from 1991-2003. She served as the President of the NYS Urban Forestry Council from 1990-2001 and thereafter as a Board Member.

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NYC Senior Forester and MFI Grad Brian Widener

Brian Widener at Buttermilk Falls in New Jersey
Brian Widener at Buttermilk Falls in New Jersey

In February, 2015, NYC Senior Forester for Trees and Sidewalks Brian Widener attended the week-long Municipal Forestry Institute (MFI), held at The Oregon Garden in Silverton, Oregon.

Here we learn about Brian’s background, his work in NYC, and his experience at MFI, for which he received partial support from the NYSUFC and NYSDEC.

Can you tell us about your job background and education?
Brian Widener: Before I was a forester, I worked at a couple of interesting hotels, including the Giant Forest Lodge in Sequoia National Park (no longer in existence) and the hotels on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, then I worked a few years in dark, sometimes windowless corporate offices.

After volunteering in Prospect Park in Brooklyn for a year, I decided to go back to school and graduate with a Forestry degree from Northern Arizona University (NAU) in Flagstaff. I always tell everyone that I learned about two trees at NAU, ponderosa pine and Gambel oak. That’s it, haha! And only a few urban tree species were planted on the streets of this 7,000-foot-elevation town (Siberian elm and honeylocust, mostly). We hiked to the higher elevations of Arizona to study Douglas-fir, bristlecone pine, Colorado spruce, etc. and I learned a lot about native grasses, scrubby oaks, and cactuses at lower elevations.

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Looking Back with Pride: Our Council’s 2014 Annual Report

Screenshot 2015-04-13 09.46.20

Taking a step back and looking at all the work we accomplished in 2014 is a very joyful experience and also very humbling. The Council’s 2014 Annual Report is now available HERE for view and download.

This is a time to be very proud ourselves–way to go, everyone! Beyond that, this document also serves many useful purposes including:

– Portraying the Council’s mission and activities

– Educating influential decision-makers about our work on important issues

– Creating a historical account of our accomplishments and progress

– Acknowledging the work of our members, volunteers, and sponsors

RELEAF 190But we can only fulfill these useful purposes if we distribute this report to others. Doing so expands our circle of influence and galvanizes strategic relationships that help us accomplish our common mission. Do you have a Facebook page or Twitter account where you could repost it? Some types of people you may wish to share with might include:

– Professional colleagues

– Policy-makers and elected officials

– Business contacts

– Potential sponsors

– Educators

– Students

– Community members

– Family members

So, please enjoy the read and feel free to leave your feedback in the comments section.

NYSUFC ANNUAL REPORT 2014 – FINAL

Meet Our Council’s New Executive Secretary, Liana Gooding

Gooding Family
Liana Gooding with her son Ian, son Jared, and husband Mark.

Liana (pronounced “Lee Anna”) Gooding is the NYSUFC’s new Executive Secretary. Welcome, Liana! She introduces herself here.

I grew up in suburban Rochester, attended SUNY Oswego and have lived in several different areas of New York State. I now reside in the small rural village of Lima, just south of Rochester with my husband Mark and son Jared (my six-foot-tall, 16-year-old “baby.”) Our older son, Ian, is in his first year at Clarkson University. He’s doing great, while mom is still having separation anxiety.

I began my administrative career in medical office management and upon moving to the Adirondacks (where Mark was working for NYS DEC) I had the opportunity to work for the Village of Saranac Lake and served as Village Clerk. Mark and I had two young boys when he was offered a transfer to the Region 8 DEC office (where he is today), which brought us to Lima and closer to family.

I married into forestry. Mark was attending SUNY ESF when we met, and he works as a forester for DEC. He introduced me to various forestry related groups, including the New York Forest Owners Association (NYFOA), New York Tree Farm, and the NYS Urban Forestry Council. I was at home with our young boys when the office administrator opportunity came up for both NYFOA and Tree Farm. Both jobs fit my administrative skills and provided the work from home option that I have enjoyed for ten years. It’s been rewarding to support a group of engaged volunteers working toward a shared purpose. Finding out that the NYS Urban Forestry Council was looking for an Executive Secretary, I felt it would be a great fit for me and would blend well with the work I do for the other groups.

I’m looking forward to seeing a different side of forestry and meeting a whole new group of people. I hear the Council is a fun bunch of dedicated professionals. I look forward to meeting many of you at the summer conference!

I’d love to hear from you: lgooding@rochester.rr.com. I can be found most days in my home office with my furry companions. They’re kind of lazy, and one has been known to bark when I’m on the phone, but they are the best co-workers around.

Letter-Writing Advocacy: ReLeaf COUNT TREES Part II

Want your local politician to pay attention to an issue you care about? Take this tip from Omar Ahmad, the beloved former mayor of San Carlos, California: Send a monthly handwritten letter. Old-fashioned correspondence, he shows, is more effective than email, phone — or even writing a check. Listen for his four simple steps to writing a letter that works.
-from TEDTalks

Advice for letter writing advocacy was conveyed during a session with Nancy Wolf and Paul Kerzner at the March 6, 2015 NYC ReLeaf Workshop, COUNT TREES: Why Do a Tree Census?” The advocacy letter template will be useful to all New Yorkers seeking the most effective way to advocate for their urban forest. The template and its NYC-specific intro were written by NYS DEC Division of Lands and Forests Outreach Coordinator Nina Medakovich. 

City Council members are preparing the 2016 budget for New York City. With the Million Trees initiative planting its one millionth tree this summer, it’s time to ensure our city continues heading in the right direction by investing in our urban forest!

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NYC ReLeaf’s COUNT TREES Workshop, Part I

NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver gave the keynote address.
NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver gave the keynote address.

With the exception of Sumana Serchan’s reflections, this two-part post was written by NYS DEC Division of Lands and Forests Outreach Coordinator Nina Medakovich. Part I brings us workshop highlights. Part II delves into the power of letter-writing advocacy and includes an advocacy template letter written by Nina. Thank you, Nina and Sumana.   

NYC ReLeaf’s Spring workshop “COUNT TREES: Why Do a Tree Census?” was held on March 6th at Brooklyn Borough Hall to highlight the value of collecting and analyzing data on urban trees. With the NYC Parks Department preparing to undertake the decennial Street Tree Census this summer, NYC ReLeaf considered it a timely and relevant topic.

The workshop aimed to convey why collecting data on urban trees is so crucial to survival and growth of the urban forest, investigate federal research on urban forests, reflect on the success of and lessons learned by NYRP’s Tree Giveaway program, equip volunteers with tree advocacy skills, and introduce the 2015 Street Tree Census.

NYC Releaf workshop
Settling in for the workshop. Photo Courtesy Million Trees NYC

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