Rebecca Hargrave: Get to Know Her!

Rebecca measuring planting depth
Rebecca measuring planting depth for a scarlet oak on the Morrisville State College campus on Arbor Day, 2014. 

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.

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NYS DEC Cost-Share Grants: The Trees New York Example

CPs at work
Advanced Citizen Pruners, trained and supervised by Trees New York, working their magic in East Harlem, NYC. Photos Courtesy Trees New York

The NYC-based environmental and urban forestry nonprofit organization, Trees New York, has trained Citizen Pruners since 1976. In light of so many years of success—including mentoring new Citizen Pruner groups upstate—they created the Advanced Citizen Pruner Program in 2012. You can see a video about the Trees New York Citizen Pruner program here.

Trees New York applied for and received a NYDEC U&CF Round 11 Cost-Share Grant for its Advanced Citizen Pruner training and work sessions. In-kind support came from NYC Parks in the form of NYC Parks foresters on hand for the training and Park staff and trucks to haul brush away. The training took place in summer of 2012 and the work outings began in November 2012. The focus was on structural pruning of young trees that were out of their two-year warranty, and the majority of the work took place in East Harlem, since it had dense plantings of such young trees.

We spoke with Trees New York’s Executive Director Nelson Villarrubia about their Advanced Citizen Pruner Program project implementation and things to consider when applying for a NYDEC U&CF Cost-Share Grant. Following the Q&A is the narrative of the Trees New York successful Round 11 Cost-Share Grant application. This successful narrative is instructive for municipalities who want to apply for the next round of grants (Round 13), the details of which should be announced later this fall.

Regarding Round 13, NYS DEC Urban Forestry Program Manager Mary Kramarchyk says, “The cost-share grant match for maintenance and tree planting will be only 25% this year. Also, applicants may receive partial reimbursements to make completing the project easier than funding the entire project up front. We hope this will make creating green spaces easier for non-profits and municipalities.”

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Transplanting and a Deeper Look at “Fall Hazards”

B&B trees on truck Matthew Stephens
B&B trees dug properly—i.e., when dormant. Photo by Matthew Stephens

by NYC Parks Director of Street Tree Planting Matthew Stephens and Taking Root Editor Michelle Sutton

We coauthored this story questioning commonly held beliefs about “fall hazards,” mostly as it applies to B&B trees, but we also discuss the interaction of the fall season with other production methods, like bare root. The section, “The Five Branches of Transplanting Success,” should be of interest to anyone planting trees, period!  With the help of Nina Bassuk and others, we tried to break down the complex interactions at work with transplanting. This article originally ran in Arbor Age (Fall 2015).  

The nursery industry is reluctant to dig certain species of trees in the fall, yet the “fall hazards” lists can vary significantly among nurseries. Also varying is the experience of nursery customers, including city foresters who plant hundreds or thousands of trees each year. In addition to digging season, there are other interacting factors at play in the fall planting picture.

A More Nuanced Look
Cornell Urban Horticulture Institute Director and street tree expert Dr. Nina Bassuk says, “Those fall hazards lists are generalizations. Typically the trees that appear on those lists are trees that are more difficult to transplant, period. In spring they don’t become easy to transplant; they’re just observed to be easier in the spring than in the fall.”

Tree Pittsburgh Director of Urban Forestry Matthew Erb has overseen the planting of more than 25,000 trees (mostly B&B) since 2008. “I’m sure if you look hard enough, you will find nearly every species on someone’s fall hazard list,” he says.

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Developing Creative Community Forestry Partnerships

Community partnerships and effective urban forestry branding and marketing: we can learn from our sister states’ approaches. Here, Vice President of Public Relations at CEL Kari Logan talks about the Kentucky Roots campaign of the Northern Kentucky Urban & Community Forestry Council and gives suggestions for “Developing Creative Community Forestry Partnerships.” If your community has forged a creative partnership that has benefited your urban forest, please tell us about it:   

Kentucky RootsDynamic community partnerships can be the fuel needed to propel educational forestry campaigns and programs with additional resources and vehicles for distribution. However, the best partners are not always the most obvious, but the reality is opposites can attract and can come together for the greater good of both.

Consider thinking past your typical supporters to businesses, retailers, entertainment venues, and beyond. Community forestry programs need support, and businesses need to support programs that elevate their position as environmental leaders.

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Bare Root & UHI Webinars Update

Thanks to Nina 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.

Bare root planting by volunteers in Utica. Photo by Roger B. Smith
Bare root planting by volunteers in Utica. Photo by Roger B. Smith

Schichtel’s Sales Manager Jim Kisker, who has partnered with Nina on bare root and other research since 1990, says the vast majority of the nursery’s bare root sales go to municipalities that are using her bare root technique. Kisker says, “When I listen to some of our municipal customers give presentations on the success they’re having with bare root, they’re up in the exceptional 93-96 % survival rate with the dip and bag method. We know it works, because the same municipalities come back every year. Some have been buying from us, with this method, for 10-15 years and in some cases, 20-plus years.”

NYS DEC Urban Forestry Program Manager Mary Kramarchyk says, “When learning about volunteer efforts across the state, I find it uplifting that so many local tree stewards already know about bare-root tree planting and that they find it much easier to do than balled and burlap trees.”

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The Story of the Urban Forest Strike Teams

USFS-Strike-TeamThe 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. Here’s the backstory. 

Team Specialists discuss tree loss (and near miss!) with homeowner after Hurricane Gustav. Because it impacted a public street, the tree was marked for FEMA removal and reimbursement.
Team Specialists discuss tree loss (and near miss!) with homeowner after Hurricane Gustav. Because it impacted a public street, the tree was marked for FEMA removal and reimbursement.

by Paul Revell, Urban & Community Forestry Coordinator, Virginia Department of Forestry ♦ Photos Courtesy Urban Forest Strike Teams

In 2003, Hurricane Isabel cut a devastating path across Virginia, leaving lots of damaged trees in its wake. Several of the Tidewater cities were hit hard. Further inland, the state capitol of Richmond lost more than 10,000 public trees. Between 2002 and 2005, North Carolina and South Carolina suffered several hurricanes that also caused tremendous tree damage and loss.

Urban foresters were frustrated that there was no way to adequately respond to these disasters in order to qualify for FEMA reimbursement. Even communities with established urban forestry programs lacked the staff or a methodology to document tree damage in a timely manner, given all the other clean-up activities that were taking place. Similarly, state forestry agencies lacked a method for assisting communities from an urban forestry perspective. Then, in 2005, Hurricane Katrina caused widespread tree damage in the Gulf States. One of the tragedies of Hurricane Katrina was that contractors destroyed thousands of healthy trees in the aftermath of the storm.

The Urban Forestry Coordinators of Virginia and North Carolina, Paul Revell and Leslie Moorman, decided that some sort of urban response capability needed to be developed by state agencies in advance of the next disaster. They consulted the U. S. Forest Service for assistance. Dudley Hartel, a technology transfer specialist with the Southern Research Station, was eager to help. He had assisted several communities after Hurricane Katrina and was ready to use his experience to develop a storm response methodology.

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Bassuk, Luley, and Nowak Receive Awards at ISA Orlando

Chris Luley accepting his R.W. Harris Author's Citation Award, granted to authors for sustained excellence in the publication of timely information pertaining to the field of arboriculture.
Chris Luley accepting his R.W. Harris Author’s Citation Award, granted to authors for sustained excellence in the publication of timely information pertaining to the field of arboriculture.

In early August, at the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) Annual International Conference and Trade Show in Orlando, Florida, three of our New York urban forest luminaries won prestigious awards.

Cornell Urban Horticulture Institute Director Nina Bassuk received the Alex L. Shigo Award for Excellence in Arboricultural Education. Urban Forestry LLC Principal Chris Luley received the R.W. Harris Author’s Citation. USDA Forest Service Northern Research Station Project Leader and Research Forester David Nowak received the L. C. Chadwick Award for Arboricultural Research. In the past, Nina also received the Research award and David also received the Author’s award.

What follows are the videos that ISA produced for each recipient. We can take pride in the accomplishments of these New York-based professionals who, among their many good works, have contributed immensely to the efforts and mission of the NYS Urban Forestry Council.

The New Helen Sternberg Cutler Urban Forestry Scholarship at SUNY ESF

By Lewis M. Cutler, MS Forest Botany and Ecology, SUNY ESF, 1975

There’s now an urban forestry scholarship for students at SUNY ESF. I’ve created the Helen Sternberg Cutler Memorial Scholarship in urban forestry in my mother’s memory.

Helen cropped-2
Helen Sternberg Cutler

The urban landscape needs a lot of help to make cities more livable. With the demise of the American elm, climate change, and the spread of the emerald ash borer, I saw a need to encourage more ESF students of become professionals in urban forestry. What better way to further our family interests in urban forestry than to fund a scholarship.

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Paul DiPietro: Get to Know Him!

Paul Di Pietro by Michelle SuttonPaul DiPietro is owner and president of Visual Landscapes, through which he specializes in design, preservation, enhancement, and professional plant health care for site management. Paul is a CNLP NYSNLA (Certified Nursery & Landscape Professional – New York State Nursery & Landscape Association). He lives in Elmira, New York with his wife, Lindy.

Paul DiPietro: My interest in urban forestry and landscape horticulture stems from a childhood appreciation for the environment and outdoors that my family and friends helped impart to me. During my childhood years I lived in both urban (Albany) and rural (Colonie) areas, so I had the best of both worlds. We had access to urban and state parks, museums, ponds, lakes, etc., and we made frequent visits to these areas to explore and have fun.

I could walk out my back door to a wooded area that was my playground and laboratory to play, explore, and be creative. There was a rich variety of plant species, animals, creeks, ponds, and meadows. Just a great environment to have fun as a kid! My friends and I never got bored with this adventure and freedom.

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Heidi Peterson on ReLeaf 2015

Heidi Peterson
Heidi Peterson

Did you know that scholarships toward registration for the annual ReLeaf conference are available through DEC for qualified applicants? Heidi Peterson received one this year. Heidi is Administrative Assistant,  Commercial Pesticide Applicator, and Commercial Landscaping Operations Chief for Tree Services of WNY, LLC.  She lives in North Tonawanda.

Heidi says: “When I applied for the scholarship for the 2015 NYS Urban ReLeaf Conference through the DEC, I had hoped to attend and use the opportunity to gain relevant and up-to-date information on concerns and practices; also to make new professional relationships with others interested and actively participating in the arboriculture field.

SUNY ESF was fertile ground for Tree ID during our ReLeaf Conference. Here: shingle oak (Quercus imbricaria).

The SUNY ESF campus was the perfect setting for the conference, offering an inside look at green infrastructure, biological practices towards preservation of species such as the American chestnut, and providing many species of trees for observation and comparison during the Tree ID workshop. I found it especially beneficial to hear speakers from other areas such as New York City and how they are implementing their own urban landscaping methods to increase the benefits as well as survival of trees in their communities.

Not only did the conference provide the tours, workshops, and information, it also provided a friendly, interactive setting to become familiar with others across New York State who were more than happy to share their own experiences and information and curious to hear and comment on my own as well.

Beyond all of the wonderful topics, to me, the most valuable thing I took home from the conference was inspiration to continue to expand my knowledge and practices so that I, too, may take a larger role in making our world a better place through arboriculture.”