ReLeaf 2016 Reflections

Did you know that scholarships toward registration for the annual ReLeaf conference are available through the DEC for qualified applicants? These folks received awards this year.

IMG_0413Dewitt’s Nicholas Quilty-Koval:

The Releaf Conference was fantastic. It was a great experience and I was able to talk to many great people who encouraged me to pursue my goal of a career in urban planning.

In my community I have the opportunity to go door-to-door and talk to people about receiving a free tree. I am involved in the Save The Rain program for the Town of Dewitt. This program works with OEC (Onondaga Earth Corps) in an attempt to educate the nearby community about the benefits of trees as well as saving the rain. Our goal is to plant trees in the local area in order to do things such as decrease the amount of flooding, improve the air quality, and improve the appearance of the neighborhoods. I am also involved in the Town’s attempt to save ash trees that have been impacted by emerald ash borer. I have marked trees for removal as well as treatment. I also work with database software to help track the trees in our area.

Every aspect of the conference gave me insight into new topics and I learned a lot. It also connected ideas that I had originally been exposed to in my first year at college. There are many great takeaways that I received from the conference; the biggest one came from the Urban Wood Utilization talks with Jim Maloney and Tom Derby. I learned that we should not grind up ash and other trees into mulch, but instead should try to make them into something more useful and high-value, from a bench to a turkey call. Doing this would allow for more revenue from the tree and more meaningful products. I learned that marketing is a big key to the success of this idea of reusing the wood from urban trees.

IMG_0380Council Founder and Environmental Education Consultant Nancy Wolf:

I thought the theme of “Sustainable Urban Forestry” was excellent and timely and Skidmore College one of the most environmentally aware campuses we have used. I was particularly impressed with the recycling program—excellently labeled bins everywhere. Just a delight to be there, though I do think the dorm rooms could have been able to be individually climate controlled. I had to open the window to make the room warmer! From the environmental point of view, it was great to be able to get to Skidmore by mass transit (AMTRAK).

I was impressed that the presentations followed the theme so well. That is not easy to put together, so the local committee did a very good job. In terms of a takeaway, I learned much more about invasive species of all sorts and scooped up brochures about ones I didn’t know about to take to our farm in Virginia.

Fran Lawlor

Fran Lawlor:

I am a land manager at a nature center next to a small Central NY town. Thousands of visitors visit our 187, mainly wooded acres every year, including children at day camp, hikers, star gazers, and birdwatchers. Our preserve is an important recreational and educational resource for the greater Syracuse region. It is important we keep up to date on urban forestry issues that can impact the ecological health and the physical safety of our several miles of hiking trails.

The immediacy of emerald ash borer and its impacts was driven home to me during the conference. I also shared with other parks professionals the challenges of managing several invasive species that have significant forest health impacts. I spoke with state foresters who are ready to help us make forest management decisions to best be prepared to meet all these challenges.

Charles Lannie HillCharles Hill:

I am the landscape supervisor at New York Restoration Project. In the last year, I have worked on the reforestation effort at Highbridge Park in Northern Manhattan. This summer and this past spring, combined crews from NYRP have planted more than 500 native trees in Highbridge.

Since I live and work in Manhattan, I tend to see things through a New York (City)-centric lens. It was refreshing to see things from a state-wide point of view. Seeing the wide range of efforts underway throughout the state adds an element of creativity to the work that I do. There were some interesting ideas and processes that are underway in other parts of New York State that made me think about different ways of doing things.

One of my favorite parts of the conference was the TREES, TREES AND MORE TREES Workshop. This was a fantastic example of science and creativity at work. I learned a lot about innovations in the storm water management field involving multiple strategies for run offs, pollutants, and trash that are taking place in the Capital Region.

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