Cornell Cooperative Extension – Dutchess County and CCE Putnam County have teamed up to bring you this online series preparing you for the ISA Certified Arborist Exam. Please see full details here
“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
Fall planting season is underway, and many NY towns and cities are taking advantage of this season’s combination of still-warm soils with cooler air temps, which lends itself to success with fall planting of a variety of tree species in parks and along streets. Since the Council blog was launched in 2014, the most often viewed post (6323 views!) has been this one, about Fall Planting and a Deeper Look at “Fall Hazards.” We will do an update this winter, but the existing content remains solid and clearly has been of practical value to many folks. Check it out if you haven’t already!
Georgia Silvera Seamans is the co-founding director of Washington Square Park Eco Projects in New York City. She is an urban forester, independent researcher, and writer. Georgia has bylines with UrbanOmnibus.net, Audubon.org, and Audubon Magazine, and her research has been published in Urban Forestry & Urban Greening and the former Journal of Arboriculture. Georgia blogs about urban nature at localecologist.org. She holds degrees from Wesleyan University, the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, and UC Berkeley.
Could you share about your NYC roots and your connection to Washington Square Park in particular?
Georgia Silvera Seamans: When my family emigrated to the U.S., the first place we landed was Washington Heights. I attended junior high and high school in NYC. I used to visit the Village as a teenager; the vintage shops on West 8th Street were fun to explore! I recall one visit to Washington Square Park during that time. The Park struck me as a dynamic and diverse place. As an adult I moved back to the City in 2009. I live a few blocks from the Park, within a 10-minute walk.
How did you come to urban forestry, and what have been some of your peak experiences along the way? Could you talk about your urban forestry research and writing?
GSS: I became an urban forester because of my job as a paid community forestry intern with the Urban Resources Initiative in New Haven, Connecticut. This practical experience more than any academic training set me on the urban forestry path. I was an intern in the organization’s Community Greenspace program where I provided technical resources to seven community groups in the Newhallville neighborhoods.
The projects undertaken by the groups I worked with ranged from planting street trees on a block to converting an abandoned house lot into a bird sanctuary. I can honestly say that but for this rigorous and fun experience I would not have applied to and been offered the job as urban forester for the City of Boston.
I returned to graduate school after working for the Boston Parks and Recreation Department for a few years. At UC Berkeley, my dissertation research was focused on how and why municipal agencies and nonprofits were reframing trees as ecological agents versus the conventional aesthetic narrative. I am proud of my first authored paper based on my dissertation which was published in 2013 in Urban Forestry & Urban Greening.
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.
Each fall, members of the Society of Municipal Arborists (SMA) nominate and vote for the SMA Urban Tree of the Year. You can see a list of winners going back to 1996 here.
Here’s a reflection on the 2020 SMA Urban Tree of the Year, hackberry (Celtis occidentalis), from New York Tree Trust Development Director and NYSUFC Board Member James Kaechele. Following that is a word about transplanting hackberry from Urban Horticulture Institute (UHI) Director and NYSUFC Board Member Nina Bassuk and former UHI graduate student Michelle Sutton.
Sprout Lands: Tending the Endless Gift of Trees
Review by Michelle Sutton, NYSUFC Editor
“Coppice and pollard … we should know these words again, for by means of them, people built their world out of wood for ten thousand years.” —William Bryant Logan
Every spring, I coppice my trio of purple smokebushes (Cotinus coggygria ‘Royal Purple’) because I value the deep purple foliage more than the ethereal flowers. I coppiced lots of different kinds of shrubs for clients over the years, always with ornamental aims in mind. However, I’ve never pollarded a tree and it had struck me as a strange horticultural folly or quirk, but that was my own ignorance showing—ignorance of the fact that pollarding and coppicing have been used since the last ice age to generate woody sprouts for a stunning array of human uses.
In hot and steamy June of 2017, a team of researchers and arborists from Cornell University’s Urban Horticulture Institute (UHI), headed up by UHI Director Nina Bassuk, worked dawn to dusk evaluating the condition of the American elms and soils on the National Mall in Washington DC. This iconic landscape is often referred to as “America’s Front Lawn,” and the National Mall turf grass was fully renovated between 2010 and 2016, involving infrastructure upgrades, at a cost of $40 million dollars. Now, UHI hopes the Mall trees will get the same level of attention.
Bassuk and then-graduate student Yoshiki Harada worked together on soil evaluation, taking 108 soil samples back to Cornell, while ISA Board Certified Master Arborist Barbara Neal and UHI Visiting Fellow Bryan Denig performed an ISA Level 2 evaluation of the National Mall’s 550 trees. Bassuk and team also used ground penetration radar on a sample of 16 of the trees to find out precisely where the roots are.
Funding Will Help Support Tree Planting and Other Urban Forestry Projects Statewide
Read on to find out about the awardees and their projects
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo recently announced grant awards totaling $2.3 million for urban forestry projects in communities across New York. The Urban Forestry grants are funded through the state Environmental Protection Fund and are part of New York’s ongoing initiatives to address invasive species, climate change and environmental justice.
“These investments will help improve the quality of life in New York neighborhoods by supporting the replacement of trees impacted by invasive pests,” Governor Cuomo said. “Every New Yorker deserves access to clean air, and through these urban forestry grants, we are promoting the benefits of planting new trees to support a better, healthier New York for all.”
Grants were made available to municipalities, public benefit corporations, public authorities, school districts, soil and water conservation districts, community colleges, not-for-profit organizations, and Indian Nations. Awards range from $11,000 to $75,000, depending on municipal population. Tree inventories and community forestry management plans have no match. Tree planting and maintenance projects have a 25 percent match.