Getting to Know Council VP & Syracuse City Forester Steve Harris

Steve Harris at the Syracuse Parks Department’s annual community tree planting event involving approximately 100 trees and 100 volunteers. The event is organized in partnership with local partners Cornell Cooperative Extension-Onondaga County and Onondaga Earth Corps. “It is always the highlight of the year,” Steve says. Photo Courtesy Onondaga Earth Corps

Steve Harris has been Syracuse City Arborist since 2010. He has served several terms on the Council Board and is now its Vice President. Steve is also active with the Society of Municipal Arborists, excelling in conference program planning.    

Can you tell us about your educational trajectory?
Steve Harris: When I was 9 or 10, my Dad gave me an atlas of the United States for my birthday. I studied it often and knew all the states and capitols before that was taught in school, which might be the reason I studied Urban Geography at Ohio State. In 1990, at the end of my senior year of college, one of my friends told me they’d enrolled in the Peace Corps. The idea of getting that kind of experience resonated with me, so I applied and was sent to The Gambia in West Africa to be a forest extension agent.

Upon my return to the States, I worked in an unrelated field for a couple of years before realizing that forestry was the career path for me. I attended Paul Smith’s College to get an Associate’s Degree in Pre-Professional Forestry then to SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry to get a Master’s Degree in Forestry. In both cases, my focus was forest management.

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Underutilized Trees for Urban Use: ‘Harvest Gold’ Linden

Glossy summer foliage of ‘Harvest Gold’ linden. Photo by James Kaechele

This post comes to us from NYSUFC Board Member and New York Tree Trust Development Director James Kaechele. 

Harvest Gold Linden (Tilia cordata x mongolica ‘Harvest Gold’)

As an open-pollinated hybrid of T. cordata and T. mongolica, ‘Harvest Gold’ linden steals the best from each parent. Searching through rows of lindens at Moon Nursery in Chesapeake City, Maryland in early 2009, I noticed this tree was different. ‘Harvest Gold’ does not share the liability of ‘Greenspire’ linden’s wide and twiggy form. Nor does it suffer from the often sparse crown of a young ‘Redmond’ or the frequently crowded branching of silver linden. Time may still reveal a fatal flaw for ‘Harvest Gold’, but after planting and observing it for the last ten years across diverse New York City landscapes, I am prepared to say this is an excellent linden.

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2020 i-Tree Online Academy Starts Jan 22 – Reg Due Jan 10

2020 i-Tree Academy Starts January 22 – Registration Extended to Jan. 10

A new on-line course, called the i-Tree Academy, will be offered in 2020 and registration is now open! The NYSUFC is a member of the i-Tree Academy Planning Team, with our Executive Secretary Liana Gooding as point person. Full Details here

The class starts January 22, will be 5 months in length and includes a bi-monthly, online web session, completion of self-paced learning modules, assignments, and completion of a final student project. Students will be able to focus on a specific urban forestry issue of interest to them.

i-Tree is a state-of-the-art, software suite from the USDA Forest Service, Davey Tree Experts and other partners that provides urban and rural forestry analysis and benefits assessment tools. The i-Tree tools can help strengthen forest management and advocacy efforts by quantifying forest structure and the environmental benefits that trees provide.

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i-Tree Planting Calculator Analysis of Buffalo’s Fall 2018 Tree Plantings

 

The planting sites used in Buffalo’s i-Tree Planting Analysis project as part of City Forester Ross Hassinger’s participation in the first-ever i-Tree Online Academy.

As part of the first i-Tree Online Academy, participants were asked to complete a comprehensive final capstone project that demonstrated their ability to utilize the i-Tree tools to analyze trees in their community or to engage community residents in examining the greenspace in their city or town. Projects were developed by each student and they were responsible to carry out all aspects of the design, planning, and implementation of each program.

Buffalo City Forester Ross Hassinger’s project involved the City’s 2018 street tree planting. In the fall season (Oct 15-Dec 31) of 2018, the city of Buffalo put out bids for a local licensed landscape company to plant 56 street trees in the City in various locations as shown in the map above. This is Ross’s report created after conducting his i-Tree Online Academy capstone project.

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Congress Passes FY20 Spending Bill with Increase for UCF

The Sustainable Urban Forests Coalition (SUFC) keeps us posted on the federal funding for UCF. There’s good news in this year’s update. They say, “These gains (and level funds) don’t happen in a vacuum. Thank you all for your work this year to help us spread awareness about the importance of investing in programs that support urban and community forestry efforts across the country. We look forward to working with you all to make further strides in the new year!” 
Congress passed a bipartisan spending bill on December 19 for Fiscal Year (FY) 2020, which includes a number of exciting wins for SUFC priorities. Here’s a quick rundown:

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Top Five NYSUFC Blog Posts of 2019

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

Encore! Encore! Originally published on the blog in 2015, this post continues to be highly relevant to our blog readers; in the lifetime of the post, it’s been viewed more than 5300 times. Former NYC Director of Street Tree Planting Matt Stephens and NYSUFC Editor Michelle Sutton coauthored this story questioning commonly held beliefs about “fall hazards,” mostly as it applies to B&B trees, but they also discuss the interaction of the fall season with other production methods, like bare root. Nina Bassuk helped craft the section called “The Five Branches of Transplanting Success,” which will be of interest to anyone planting trees.

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Underutilized Trees for Urban Use: Japanese Snowbell

Drupes of Japanese snowbell (Styrax japonica) Photo by Michelle Sutton

Japanese snowbell (Styrax japonica) is often confused with its Styracaceae family cousin, Carolina silverbell (Halesia carolina). While their flowers are similarly white, pendulous, and bearing yellow stamens, their foliage and fruit are very different. Japanese snowbell foliage is glossy and elliptic-obvate, with leaf tips curving upwards, and its fruits (drupes) look like little green (and eventually brown) olives; you’ll recall Carolina silverbell has longer, matte/dull leaves, with fruits that are football-shaped.

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Green Teens Club Produces Phenomenal Tree ID Guide

The Council received an email from Tyler of Green Teens Club, a national club creating online green resources and doing acts of service in communities. “We are made up of high school student volunteers, but parents and siblings often join in to help out on our projects,” Tyler says. “Teens from anywhere in the country can join Green Teens. We aren’t affiliated with any one school, but I believe some schools honor our volunteer hours for service hour requirement credit. We are funded by contributions from the families of volunteers.”

Green Teens created a superb, scientifically sound, and visually snappy Tree Identification Guide. You could not ask for a better introduction to Tree ID principles and terminology.

Green Teens are affiliated with Tree Musketeers, whose website has a series of guides in the same pleasing format on subjects ranging from birdwatching to photosynthesis to getting a forestry degree online.