Last fall, our esteemed Council Treasurer Lori Brockelbank participated for her third year in a row in the STIHL Tour des Trees to benefit the TREE fund. The money raised supports research toward better methods for propagation, planting and care of urban trees. The Tour also funds education programs aimed at connecting young people with the environment and with career opportunities in the green industries.
Lori joined riders in Florida during the week of October 25-31. Lori rode as much of it as she could, given that she came down with the flu! Read on for an account from Lori. First, some interesting stats from the 2015 Tour des Trees:
*The 2015 riders raised a total of $320,000 for the Tree Fund.
*There were six riders representing New York State.
*There were 85 riders total, nine of whom were new to the Tour.
*New York placed second among all the chapters in the amount of money raised ($30,873) (Team Ohio was the biggest fund raiser).
*The total route was approximately 575 miles.
*The 2016 tour will be October and will be hosted in the Carolinas.
*Twelve trees were planted on the tour, including three memorial trees.
On Long Island, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Nassau County (CCE-NC) is wrapping up a successful season of planting with their Asian Longhorned Beetle Reforestation Project.
The Project is coordinated by CCE-NC Urban Forestry Educator Nicholas Bates with support from Horticulture Assistants Addie Cappello and K.C. Alvey, Horticulture Educator Vincent Drzewucki Jr., and CCE-NC Executive Director Greg Sandor. This article is written by K.C. Alvey, who also prepared a very, very cool timeline about the work the Asian Longhorned Beetle Reforestation Project has accomplished thus far.
From authors Alvey, Cappello, and Bates:
It has been an exciting fall between leading public outreach events and coordinating plantings on public and private properties across Farmingdale, NY and Amityville, NY, communities that were hard-hit by the Asian Longhorned Beetle infestation. Since its initial arrival from Asia to Brooklyn in 1996, this invasive beetle has decimated thousands of trees across Long Island, particularly maples, elms, ashes, and other known host species. This infestation has caused economic damage, in addition to environmental damage, and threatens tourism, recreation, the maple sugar industry, arboriculture, and landscaping.
Cornell Cooperative Extension of Nassau County is fortunate to have been awarded $595,000 of a major $1 million grant from the US Forest Service in May 2015 for our Asian Longhorned Beetle Reforestation Project. CCE-NC is working in partnership with the US Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, the US Forest Service, the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, the US Department of Agriculture, the NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets, and the Town of Babylon. We aim to revitalize Long Island’s urban and community forests, starting with the quarantine zone along the border of Nassau and Suffolk Counties, where the USDA has had to remove over 10,000 trees in an effort to eradicate the beetle and prevent its spread.
Who would think that the massive grey clouds that settled over upstate New York in the winter and summer of 1998 could possibly have silver linings? The 10,000 TREES program was developed in 1999 to assist upstate New York communities within the Niagara Mohawk Power Corp (NMPC) service territory that had sustained extensive street tree and urban forest losses and damages in the ice and wind storms of 1998.
10,000TREES initially assisted 42 communities in planting more than 11,000 trees during the first three years of the program. Through proper species selection and placement (aka Right Tree, Right Place), participating communities planted trees with some of those planting costs offset through contributions from the 10,000 TREES program. One key facet of the planting was ensuring that trees were utility-line compatible.
Building upon that success and with many empty spaces still remaining within served communities, National Grid (the successor to NMPC) was pleased to continue assisting communities in their street replanting projects in the form of the 10,000 TREES … AND GROWING program. Utility-compatible, low-growing trees planted successfully under overhead electric lines that are accepted under the guidelines of the program receive a contribution reimbursement of $50/tree from National Grid.
What was the City of Norwich’s experience with its NYS DEC-sponsored Urban and Community Forestry cost-share grant? We get the scoop from Norwich Planning and Community Development Specialist Todd D. Dreyer and Morrisville State College Assistant Professor Rebecca Hargrave.
The application was prepared in 2011 by Hargrave and the funds were used in 2012 to conduct a city-wide inventory of street and park trees. (A portion of Norwich’s successful grant narrative can be seen in the second half of this post.)
Dreyer says that the project was done with the cooperation of staff support from the City of Norwich, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Chenango County (for whom Hargrave worked at the time), and the Christian Neighborhood Center. The project included entering the inventory data into a GIS database to enable mapping and computer analysis of the information gathered during the inventory.
Dreyer says, “The tree inventory was done during the summer of 2012 with a team of young people employed in a local AmeriCorps program known as the Headwaters Youth Conservation Corps.” They were trained and supervised by Hargrave, who says, “The City of Norwich was mostly interested in species size, composition, and distribution; basic condition information; and identification of potential planting sites.”
Hargrave says that the Headwaters Youth Conservation Corps crew collected tree data on paper forms (using codes) and collected location data with GPS units. The data was then entered into i-Tree Streets. “At the time we did not have the budget to purchase the handheld data recorders needed to run i-Tree Streets,” Hargrave says, “but that is no longer really an issue, even just a few years later, as most phones or tablets have the ability to collect data.”
The Society of Municipal Arborists (SMA), with funding from the Urban Forest Foundation, sponsors municipal arborist exchanges. The purpose is to create a way for municipal arborists to exchange urban forestry expertise, management ideas, and technology through in-person contact and on-site experience. What better way to find out how other forestry practitioners operate than to spend time with each other?
In the past year, NYC’s Director of Street Tree Planting Matthew Stephens visited Casey Trees in Washington, D.C. (you can read about his experiences here) and Casey Trees Arborist for Residential Plantings Marty Frye came to NYC Parks. Here’s what Marty learned from his time in the City. [Side note: The SMA is exploring opening up the exchange to utility arborists and to nonprofit community forestry professionals.]
New York City Parks is exemplifying what strong, informed municipal work in the public interest should look like. I had the distinct pleasure of spending time with members of the New York City Parks Department, digging into the nuts and bolts of how this work gets done. I also had the opportunity to compare both the wild side of the “back woods” of New York with its street side counterpart. This arborist exchange was professionally exhilarating and left me craving more knowledge.
NYSUFC Board Member Karen Emmerich serves on the Warwick Town Tree Commission. Here she shares the Town’s 2015 Arbor Day celebration and activities, supported by an Arbor Day grant of $1000 from the Council (stay tuned to Taking Root e-news for information about the next round of grants) and $500 from ACTrees.
In 2015, Warwick held its first-ever Arbor Day poster contest. Patti O’Connor, a 5th Grade teacher in Warwick who is also on the Town’s tree commission, coordinated the effort at the middle school. We had 15 participants, and Sarah Davis’s poster was chosen by a committee of teachers as the representative poster to forward to the State contest. We held an artists’ reception at the Town Hall at the beginning of April, and the posters were on display throughout the month. All the artists received a “Trees are Cool” button, and contest winner Sarah received a pack of tree ID playing cards.
We held an Arbor Day celebration at the Town’s new dog park, where we planted four trees: a tupelo (Nyssa sylvatica), eastern redbud (Cercis canadensis), red oak (Quercus rubra) and Princeton elm (Ulmus ‘Princeton’). Members of the town board, the DPW supervisor, the town judge, and assorted citizens all attended the ceremony on what was a clear but cold, blustery day. After the DPW supervisor read the proclamation, one of our tree commissioners, Matt Doiron, spoke about the importance of trees in our lives. Matt is a forester with NYC Parks and has many years of experience in the field of urban forestry. We’re lucky to have him!
NYSUFC Board Member Jeff Kehoe is an ISA Certified Arborist and consulting forester based out of Schenectady, NY. He has a lifelong appreciation for trees, and advanced degrees in forest management and urban planning.
Jeff participated in recent Urban Forest Strike Team (UFST) training in Syracuse organized by NYS DEC Urban Forestry Program Coordinator Mary Kramarchyk.
When I first heard about the USFT training I felt it would be an exciting way to learn more about risk tree assessment and add to my urban forestry toolkit. Also, it was a great opportunity to meet accomplished tree professionals from all over the eastern United States. The Craftsman Inn, inspired and furnished by Stickley, was a cozy setting for arborists and urban foresters to share their stories. Despite the rain, we geared up and assessed trees in and around Green Lakes State Park and Fayetteville, NY.
Every tree is unique and each observer has a different perspective on how and why a tree may fail. Strike Team responders use a streamlined evaluation process which closely follows recent ISA Tree Risk Assessment Qualification (TRAQ) standards. One of the training highlights for me was using the TRAQ program as the backbone for data collection and target/risk assessment. This advanced training uses complex language to objectively describe a potential natural occurrence. We focused on the defect in the tree which is most likely to fail within one year, the likelihood of the failure impacting a target, and the consequences of failure if it actually occurs.
It is surprising how specific and expensive dealing with trees can be, and disaster preparedness cannot be stressed enough. The cost and scale of damages can overwhelm regional resources and local budgets in a matter of minutes. Assessments made by Strike Team arborists can save healthy trees destined for the grinder or lead to improvement of a tree’s structure after emergency measures leave stub cuts or tears. Strike Team leaders stationed on-site will process field data to help control spending for FEMA, as well as the affected communities.
I applaud the USFT program, trainers, and attendees for their dedication to ensure safety for people and trees. Overall, it was an excellent experience, although having to use these newfound skills will be bittersweet.
Urban Forest Strike Teams (UFSTs)are a means for city foresters, state foresters, commercial arborists, and others to quickly come to the aid of a region whose urban forest has been impacted by a natural disaster.UFSTs conduct assessments that help communities plan needed recovery work and document to FEMA the amount of damage and cost of clean-up.You can read all about the UFSTs on this past blog post.
Organized by our state DEC UF coordinator Mary Kramarchyk, a UFST training for professionals from the Northeast area of the US Forest Service took place in Syracuse on Sept 30-Oct 1.
Tioga County Cornell Cooperative Extension Horticulture Educator Barb Neal took the training along with many other Council members. She has an extensive background as a consulting arborist.
It sounded interesting to me and worthwhile, especially after seeing the damage from Superstorm Sandy and how much need there was for the UFST then. My executive director, Andy Fagan was on board and supportive of the UFST training to enable me and others to help out our local NY communities in the future.
It’s always good to meet other arborists and foresters in New York, and the training was a very good a blend of class presentations and going out in the field to practice both risk assessment and using the equipment: GPS Trimble and data logger. In the field, things that seemed simple were actually a little more nuanced than you would think. For instance, we kept having to think about the documentation requirements for FEMA and how we would record appropriately to fulfill those requirements.
Sometimes we would talk for ten or fifteen minutes about one tree in light of FEMA requirements. In the real world, you don’t have time to do that, but it was really valuable to slow down and work through that during the training. We all had to separate in our minds what FEMA requires from you vs. what you as an urban forest manager might do.
It was very well run and also very interesting hearing some of the war stories, like from the forester from Springfield, MA, whose city got hit with three storms in one year including an ice storm and a tornado that ripped a 40-mile swath of destruction from Springfield to Sturbridge. He was a big believer in the UFST after they came and worked for his jurisdiction.
My big takeaway was that municipalities have to be prepared with storm management plans in place prior to a storm event. The more you prepare, the faster the response will be and the more likely you will get reimbursed by FEMA. Also the better your existing documentation is, the more likely FEMA will pay something toward the removals of trees that were standing hazards at the time of the storm. Or if you have good documentation about how you currently manage your street trees, FEMA will reimburse for structural pruning as long as that’s documented as a normal part of your work. I will be advising the urban foresters in my area to get organized with all these things in mind.
I would wholeheartedly recommend the training to other arborists and urban foresters. It’s one of those things where hopefully we don’t ever get deployed or only very rarely, but the more people we have that we can call in, the more responsive we can be after a federal emergency. The training was fun, too.
NYS DEC Urban Forestry Program Manager Mary Kramarchyk says, “Summer 2015 was the first time our program hosted an intern. Having several projects in mind and not having enough time to do them myself, I set our new student guest on the quest of identifying possible Tree Campus USA candidates, Tree City communities, and performance measure activities to set our goals by.”
Mary continues, “Laura Grant was a quick study and I soon realized we could expand her activities to other subjects that interested her most. Not only did Laura get a first-hand experience in learning about the urban forestry world, she left us with much needed information to help steer our program into the coming year. We are looking forward to sharing our enthusiasm with a student intern again in 2016.”
Laura is a senior at SUNY ESF, working toward her bachelor’s degree in forest health and a double minor in urban forestry and environmental writing.
Rebecca Hargrave is an assistant professor at Morrisville State College in Madison County in the central part of our state. She served on the NYSUFC Board for nine years. She says that as a kid who grew up in Vestal, NY, she spent a lot of time outside, camping with her family or with Girl Scouts. “I spent many summers at Scout camp and loved it. I knew I wanted to work with nature.”
Please tell us about your educational and career trajectories. Rebecca Hargrave: I went to Penn State for forest science. I don’t think I really knew what I was getting into when I enrolled, but I loved it. After my sophomore year, I spent the summer doing forest inventory in Montana for the Forest Service. I really enjoyed the job, but it was too quiet—not enough interaction with other people.
At that point I had been exposed to urban forestry, so when I got back to college that fall, I switched into the new urban forestry concentration at Penn State. The following summer I worked for the Borough of State College, PA on their tree crew, planting and pruning trees and conducting inventories. That cemented my decision to pursue urban forestry.