DEC Conservationist Magazine Includes Winter Pruning Feature by Christina McLaughlin

“Pruning in late winter and early spring minimizes
dieback of the inner bark and helps the wound-healing process. Pruning cuts can dry out some in winter due to low humidity, so waiting to cut a damaged limb until late winter or early spring can improve the tree’s healing process.”

—DEC Urban and Community Forestry Partnership Coordinator Christina McLaughlin

See the current Conservationist here

2021 Council Membership Drive & Renewal: Just $25 ($10 for Students)

Do you enjoy the Council’s popular online resources, grant programs, social media, and other output?

Please take a moment to renew your membership or join the Council. It’s fast, easy, inexpensive, and means the world to this nonprofit.

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Free DEC ReLeaf Webinar on Urban Forest Health on Jan 28th

NYSDEC will host the first NYS ReLeaf webinar of 2021 on January 28th at 1 PM on Urban Forest Health.

Jess Cancelliere and Rob Cole will give an overview of DEC’s Forest Health Program, including the Diagnostic Lab and the services it offers. They’ll also talk about Beech Leaf Disease and White Pine Decline, two issues likely to impact urban forests across New York in the coming years.

This webinar is approved for ISA and DEC Pesticide credits.

To register for the free event please visit:



Creating More Equitable Urban Forests by Understanding and Responding to Historical Trauma

The author, Christine Carmichael (far left), with a group of volunteers at a street tree-planting event in Detroit, Michigan in 2015. All photos courtesy of the author.

Creating More Equitable Urban Forests by Understanding and Responding to Historical Trauma

By Christine E. Carmichael, Ph.D., Founder and Principal, Fair Forests Consulting, LLC

For the last couple of decades, research documenting inequitable urban forest coverage by race and income in the United States has grown. Far from being an issue relegated to one city or region in the U.S., it is now clear that whiter and wealthier neighborhoods across the country have more tree canopy coverage than neighborhoods with predominately non-white residents and those with lower median income.[1] [2] [3]

Read more…

Top Five NYSUFC Blog Posts of 2020

B&B (balled-and-burlapped) trees are useful for certain species at certain sizes in spring vs. fall, but bare root is often a workable, much more affordable and volunteer-friendly alternative. Photo Courtesy Nina Bassuk

#1 Transplanting and a Deeper Look at “Fall Hazards”

This post resonates! It’s been viewed nearly 7000 times since its publication on the blog in 2015. There’s a paucity of science-based information about “fall hazards” on the internet; this post seems to be filling a need. Dr. Nina Bassuk contributed the seminal section, “The Five Branches of Transplanting Success,” to the piece. Look for an update to this popular post in 2021.

Beattra Wilson opened the 2018 Partners in Community Forestry Conference in Irvine, California with her plenary presentation.

#2 Beattra Wilson’s Steadfast Path: An Urban Forestry & USDA Forest Service Journey

Readers were keen to get to know Beattra Wilson in this piece she wrote about her youth in Louisiana, her education and work trajectory, and her biggest aspirations for USFS Urban and Community Forestry, which she leads at the national level. Her story and her vision make for compelling reading.

In his capacity as Arborist for the Fruit Tree Planting Foundation, James Kaechele demonstrated how to properly plant a limón sutil tree (Citrus aurantifolia) to a community in the Peruvian Amazon.

#3 Partnerships, Fruit Trees, and Land Restoration in the Peruvian Amazon, with James Kaechele

What does land restoration with fruit trees in the Amazon have to do with urban forestry? Everything! Council Board Member James Kaechele draws fascinating parallels and takes us along for the journey, with gorgeous photos.

Artist Sergey Jivetin creates elaborate engravings on the shells of seeds, including a series carved on American chestnut seeds depicting The American Chestnut Foundation’s restoration efforts.

#4  American Chestnut Update: Big Funding News, Public Comment Needed, Seed Engraving, and a Podcast

News of the incredibly promising American chestnut restoration efforts by The American Chestnut Foundation, SUNY-ESF, and other partners is always popular on the blog. Folks want this species back, providing all the beauty and myriad ecosystem benefits for which it was beloved before chestnut blight ran rampant.

Chinese fringe tree (Chionanthus retusus) foliage is darker, glossier, rounder, and more leathery than native fringe tree (C. virginicus) foliage, and its flower petals have rounded ends and appear less feathery than those of the native tree. Photo by Bill Haws

#5 ‘Regal Prince’ Oak, Chinese Fringetree, ‘Mushashino’ Zelkova, Hackberry

These profiles of underutilized urban trees were the most popular among the blog’s tree profiles to date. ‘Regal Prince’ is a hybrid of swamp white oak (Quercus bicolor) and fastigiate English oak (Q. robur f. fastigiata). Chinese fringetree is considerably more resistant to emerald ash borer than the native fringetree. ‘Mushashino’ zelkova (2016) and hackberry (2020) have both been voted Urban Tree of the Year by the Society of Municipal Arborists.

SMA Announces Giant Sequoia as 2021 Urban Tree of the Year

Vallejo, California artist Gary Stutler ( used charcoal and acrylic to depict this giant sequoia in his neighborhood. He says, “I have often admired many of Vallejo’s trees but had never before drawn such a singularly tree-honoring image. This was a strikingly suitable task because the fusion/confrontation between the human-made and the organic, the private and the public, is the ultimate concern of my art.”

Each fall, members of the Society of Municipal Arborists (SMA) nominate and vote for the SMA Urban Tree of the Year. Tree species or cultivars of species native to the U.S. Midwest, South, and East have dominated the Urban Tree of the Year program in its 25-year history (see past winners here).

For 2021, SMAers in the western states of the U.S. must have gotten organized; their collective might pushed the majestic giant sequoia (Sequoiadendron giganteum) over the finish line. (And yes, there are giant sequoias that have been planted and are thriving in New York State, including at Wave Hill in the Bronx, Brooklyn Botanical Garden, and New York Botanical Garden, and on private properties on Long Island. We’ve also gotten reports of giant sequoia trees doing splendidly in southeastern Connecticut.)

Read more…

Urban Tree Elegance: Copper Beech, with Jean Zimmerman

One of the the Wave Hill Public Garden and Cultural Center copper beech “cousins,” this individual showing less coppery late summer foliage. Photo by Jean Zimmerman

Copper Beech (Fagus sylvatica Atropurpurea Group)

By Jean Zimmerman, Council Board Member and Commercial and Consulting Arborist for SavATree

When I was growing up we gathered beneath “The Elephant Tree,” which stood on the overgrown lawn of an abandoned mansion. The massive local landmark, its knob-kneed trunk resembling nothing so much as the columnar legs of its namesake animal, offered a self-contained world. From the outside, long branches twisted sinuously from the crown to the ground, spreading outward like the spokes of an umbrella. Inside this protected space we found ethereal cathedral light and branches that were perfect for climbing. Kids hid there, gossiped there, made out there. The trunk was hashed with initials and hearts. We gave the tree its nickname, but the world of dendrology had a more scientific label, now known as Fagus sylvatica Atropurpurea Group.

The copper beech. Tree guru Michael Dirr chooses it as “one of my great plant loves,” and from childhood it has been one of mine, too.

Having been brought to America in the 1600s, the towering, always impressive European beech (Fagus sylvatica) tops out at a full 70 feet (21 m). The copper beech (Atropurpurea Group) shares the characteristics of the species but with distinct foliage color. While not a street tree, copper beech takes its place among landmarked gardens and properties that are part of the urban landscape around them.

Read more…