Washington Square Park Eco Projects & Co-founder Georgia Silvera Seamans

Georgia Silvera Seamans (center) with the interactive Washington Square Park Eco Projects Mobile Exhibit. Photo Courtesy Street Lab

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.netAudubon.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.

A view from within WSP to the iconic Washington Arch. The nearby crabapple trees feed many bird species in the fall, including catbirds and hermit thrushes. Photo by the author.

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.

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Council Offers New “Tree City USA Reward Grant”

Michelle Sutton

Deadline to Apply is 09/14/20

The NYS Urban Forestry Council is pleased to announce grants for communities to plant large specimen trees or a grove of trees in a prominent location within the community. Full Details, Application, and Contact Info

Communities in New York State that have been a Tree City USA for at least the past five years can apply for up to $1,000. Funding has been provided by the New York State Urban Forestry Council.

Grant Goals

The intent of this grant is to encourage municipalities to sustain their community forestry program and maintain their status as a Tree City USA Community through a celebratory tree planting.

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2020 Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Grant Program

The USDA Forest Service is requesting applications for the Fiscal Year 2020 Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) Grant Program. A fabulous USFS GLRI StoryMap highlights contributions of this grant program to Great Lakes restoration goals.

The U.S. Forest Service anticipates that up to $4.2 million in new funds will be available for competitive grants in four program areas:

  • Forest Insect and Disease Mitigation
  • Reduce Runoff from Degraded Sites through Green Infrastructure
  • Protect and Restore Coastal Wetlands through Healthy Tree Cover
  • Restore Resilient Riparian and Shoreline Forests

The FY 2020 GLRI Request for Applications (RFA) Instructions, agency-specific forms, and other resources are available on their GLRI RFA website.

Applications must be prepared and submitted through Grants.gov by 6 p.m. Eastern on June 26, 2020. The opportunity number in Grants.gov is USDA-FS-2020-GLRI.

The GLRI FY 2020 Informational Webinar is May 12, 10:00 am Eastern/9:00 am Central. Click to register and for more information!

They encourage all applicants to work with their State forestry agency to determine how their project fits into the goals and objectives of the State Forest Action Plan. If you have questions, please reach out to your Field Representative or Sheela Johnson (sheela.johnson@usda.gov or 224-999-1997).

Liverpool NY 2nd Annual Arbor Day Celebration

As part of the Village of Liverpool’s 2019 Arbor Day celebration, elementary students wrote and performed skits about trees.

Thank you to the Village of Liverpool and Deputy Mayor Christina Fadden (Fitch) for forwarding this terrific account and photos of their 2019 celebration, funded by a NYSUFC grant. Fadden says, “The grant funds were a great encouragement, and we also now stand on the cusp of finally being designated a Tree City USA. Thank you to the NYS Urban Forestry Council for your support of our efforts and program.”

Location of the Village of Liverpool, in Onondaga County, greater Syracuse.

On Friday May 3rd, 2019, the Village of Liverpool celebrated its 2nd Annual Arbor Day Celebration at Liverpool Elementary School. At 9:00 a.m., an assembly of approximately 280 students, teachers and staff gathered in the school cafeteria. Village of Liverpool Tree Advisory Committee members Lisa Ballantyne, Yvette Hewitt, Diane Recor and Adam Woodburn joined Mayor of the Village of Liverpool Gary White, DEC Senior Forester Matthew Swayze, and Officer Sean Pierce in attendance.

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2020 Quick Start Grants Info & Application

The New York State Urban Forestry Council is pleased to announce available funding for communities to hold a 2020 Arbor Day tree planting event and to establish a community-based forestry program. Many blog posts have appeared here about past recipients of this grant and how they used their Quick Start (also known as Arbor Day) grant funds.

Communities (and not-for-profits that work with communities) can apply for up to $1,000. Funding has been provided by the USDA Forest Service. Applications are due by 5 p.m. on February 14, 2020. Full grant information and application can be found here.

The intent of this grant is to help municipalities establish a community forestry program and move toward becoming a Tree City USA community. The Arbor Day Foundation prepared the following infographic about Tree City USA in New York.

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Town of Kent Launches Community Forestry Program with Aid of Council Grant

Town of Kent folks savor planting a white oak on park land around Lake Carmel. Photo by Bill Huestis

The town of Kent, NY (pop. ~ 13,500) is located in Putnam County. In 2018, the freak EF2 (110 mph at peak) tornado of May 15 plowed through a portion of Kent, uprooting or toppling 40 trees around Lake Carmel. The Town applied for and received a Council grant to plant red maples and white oaks in some key locations around the Lake. The initially scheduled spring planting activities had to be postponed due to unseasonal weather. Town of Kent Councilman Bill Huestis says, “The great news is that we finalized our initial tree planting in late June around Lake Carmel, and as of this writing all of the trees are doing fine.”

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Amboy Launches Community Forestry with Arbor Day Planting

Amboy tree planting volunteers take a selfie with the new community trees in the background. Photos Courtesy Town of Amboy

The Amboy Town Tree Committee sent this lovely narrative from their Arbor Day tree planting dedication on April 27, 2019, supported by a Council Arbor Day grant. Amboy (pop. ~1265) is located in the southeast part of Oswego County.

“A nation that destroys its soils destroys itself. Forests are the lungs of our land, purifying the air and giving fresh strength to our people.” —Franklin Delano Roosevelt

On this Arbor Day 2019, thanks to a generous grant from the NYS Urban Forestry Council, we in the Town of Amboy are building on that tradition by adding a new grove of trees in our town park—trees that will flower and fruit and even add a bit of shade to this popular community gathering spot.

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Village of Cassadaga & Lily Dale Assembly’s First Arbor Day Celebration

Cassadaga and Lily Dale residents planting a ‘Red Sunset’ red maple (Acer rubrum) at Cassadaga ball fields. Cassadaga and Lily Dale are located about an hour southwest of Buffalo.

An Arbor Day grant of $1000 and instruction from Council Board Member Lori Brockelbank helped the Village of Cassadaga (pop. ~610) and Assembly of Lily Dale (pop. ~275) celebrate their first Arbor Day on Saturday May 18, 2019.

The family-friendly event started at the Cassadaga Library with crafts for kids, free saplings, refreshments, and Lori’s presentation. Among other things, she covered the benefits of trees; Right Plant, Right Place; tree planting and aftercare; and dealing with deer, beaver, and salt. She also talked about job opportunities in the urban forestry field, which piqued the interest of Cassadaga Job Corps youth. The group then headed out to plant trees.

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Governor Cuomo Announces $2.8 Million in Grant Awards to Combat Spread Of Invasive Species

A thicket of Japanese knotweed. Citation: Tom Heutte, USDA Forest Service, www.invasives.org

Funding Supports Invasive Species Rapid Response and Control, Research, Lake Management Planning, and Aquatic Invasive Species Spread Prevention Programs.

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo recently announced more than $2.8 million in grants have been awarded to 42 projects that will reduce the negative impacts of invasive species through control or removal activities, research, and spread prevention. These grants are part of the State Department of Environmental Conservation’s Invasive Species Grant Program and are funded by the State’s Environmental Protection Fund.

Across the state, DEC is using science to determine what actions will have the greatest impact in controlling invasive species. Awarded projects are spread across four categories:

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