Successful Tree Planting, Rochester’s Urban El Camino Trail in DEC Conservationist Magazine

See the recent online edition of NYS Conservationist for interesting features, including one coauthored by DEC UCF staff Christina McLaughlin and Dan Gaidasz on “How to Plant a Tree Successfully.” There’s also a piece called “Strides through an Urban Trail” about Rochester’s El Camino: Butterhole-Seneca Park Trail, a multi-use pedestrian greenway that was adapted from an old railroad line. Other features treat environmental justice in NYS, planting for pollinators, dogs that detect invasive insects, monarch butterflies, the Tonawanda Wildlife Mgmt Area, and New York’s damselflies and dragonflies. Check out this superb publication.

Artist, Arborist, and Horticulturist Noreen Riordan

Noreen at the Friday picnic of the 2018 NY ReLeaf Conference in Rochester. Photo by Michelle Sutton

Noreen Riordan attended the Rochester ReLeaf Conference in 2018. She lives in Henrietta and serves a greater Rochester territory as an Arborist Representative for Bartlett Tree Experts. Her territory includes Greece, Henrietta, Irondequoit, Webster, and some of Penfield and Brighton. Noreen is an ISA-Certified Arborist and Certified Nursery and Landscape Professional who has extensive experience with, among other things, Emerald Ash Borer. Noreen’s love of plants is informed by being an artist and her art is informed by her love of plants; she has a BFA in Art and Photography from Syracuse University. Here’s Noreen in her own words.

***

When I got my first house, I really went bananas for gardening and haven’t looked back. I find gardening so gratifying in the way it allows me to bring in birds, bees, and other wildlife with the habitats I create. I’m grateful to my mom and grandmother for passing down the gardening gene! I’m especially into birds, and as I worked for nurseries and my own landscaping company for many years, I got more interested in trees and how miraculous and important they are. If you’re into birds, you’re likely to be into trees.

I’m happy to say that both of my daughters, Molly and Emily, have gotten into birdwatching. We all have feeders, compare who visits them, and get jealous of each other’s birds. Eastern bluebirds are my favorite, but it’s my older daughter Molly who gets frequented by them. Meanwhile, I get all the chickadees, and my daughters are envious of that. It’s something fun to bond over.

I had a home-based business retouching photos when my kids were little and did that while I raised them. When digital photography came into dominance, I made the career change to nursery and landscaping jobs. It was very exciting and a lot more physically and intellectually demanding than I thought—and so vast! Soils, light needs, native vs. exotic, spacing—there was a lot to learn. Around 2000, I achieved the Certified Nursery and Landscape Professional (CNLP) credential, my ISA Arborist Certification and also became a NYSDEC Certified Pesticide Applicator.

Read more…

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

(Above) 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. One nut (enlarged) illustrates the American Chestnut Research and Restoration Project’s insertion of the oxalate oxidase gene into the American chestnut genome. To see more of Sergey Jivetin’s work, check out his website, Furrow Seed Engraving Project.

Major Gift to SUNY-ESF Chestnut Restoration Project
The SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (SUNY-ESF) has announced a grant of $3.2 million over three years from the Templeton World Charity Foundation in support of efforts to restore the endangered American chestnut. This is SUNY-ESF’s largest-ever charitable gift.

The funding will support research and efforts to restore the economically and culturally significant tree species, billions of which were killed by a blight in the early twentieth century. ESF has genetically engineered a new strain of chestnut that includes a single gene from wheat, enabling the tree to detoxify the oxalic acid produced by the invasive fungus that causes the blight. According to the school, this is the first time scientists have sought approval for genetic engineering to restore a native tree species. Earlier this year, the research team submitted to federal agencies a petition that lays out the case for public distribution of the genetically engineered strain.

Read more…

USDA Declares NYC Free of the Asian Longhorned Beetle

On October 10, 2019, NYC Parks replanted a katsura tree (Cercidiphyllum japonicum) in McCarren Park in Brooklyn as part of the commemoration of the eradication of ALB in Brooklyn and Queens. Photo by NYC Parks Tree Preservation Senior Program Manager Danielle Gift

On October 10, 2019, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) in coordination with the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, and New York City Department of Parks and Recreation announced that they have eliminated the Asian longhorned beetle (ALB) from the New York City boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens.

Read more…

Beetle, Fungus, Fungus: Research Updates on EAB, DED, and Chestnut Blight

Emerald Ash Borer. A report recently published in the Journal of Economic Entomology offers data on the newest parasitoid wasp released against the EAB beetle: Spathius galinae. One of the authors, Dr. Jian Duan of the Beneficial Insect Introduction Unit at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service, says including this species in the biocontrol lineup could be a game-changer. “The addition of S. galinae to the current biocontrol arsenal will provide a whole spectrum of protection for surviving ash trees,” he says. To read more, see the summary article by Melissa Mayer in Entomology Today. Photo credit: Jian Duan, Ph.D., USDA-ARS

Read more…

Rochester ReLeaf Beckons: Hemlock Woolly Adelgid Documentary Screening & Discussion

On Thursday afternoon (July 26) of the Council’s ReLeaf Conference in Rochester, panelists Cornell Extension Associate Mark Whitmore, NYS Parks Natural Heritage Program’s Julie Lundgren, and Finger Lakes Partnership for Regional Invasive Species Management (PRISM) Coordinator Hillary Mosher will be screening “The Hemlock Woolly Adelgid: A Film About the Loss of an Ecosystem.”

This award-winning, 23-minute film is an educational visual resource to engage, raise awareness, and create momentum on this destructive forest pest and invasive species in general. A panel discussion will follow the film.

Green-Wood Cemetery Employs Drone to Assist with Oak Wilt Diagnosis

DCIM100MEDIADJI_0015.JPG
A drone’s aerial perspective on a red oak (Quercus rubra), infected with oak wilt, in Brooklyn’s Green-Wood Cemetery.

NYSDEC recently launched its use of drones for things like monitoring coastal erosion on Lake Ontario, exploration of bat caves in Mineville, restoration of beach dunes on Fire Island, and monitoring Southern pine beetle in pine stands on Long Island. There are few known instances of drone use in the urban forests of New York; it’s thought that this is because people are worried about safety and are uncertain about the potentially prohibitive laws at work in populous areas.

However, the Council’s own Joseph Charap has begun using drones in Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn with the help of his colleague, Vice President of Operations, Eric Barna. (Charap is Green-Wood’s Director of Horticulture and Curator.) Their first use of Barna’s Phantom 3 drone was to get aerial imagery of a veteran red oak (Quercus rubra) tree at Green-Wood that Charap suspected might be infected with oak wilt. 

Read more…

Urban Forest Ecology: Earthworms Implicated in Sugar Maple Decline

Dr. Tara Bal
Dr. Tara Bal examining earthworm activity in leaf litter.

Whoa. Worms can cause a lot of problems, as we’ve been exploring on the blog with regard to the organic matter over-consumer, Asian jumping worm. A Michigan Tech study entitled “Evidence of damage from exotic invasive earthworm activity was highly correlated to sugar maple dieback in the Upper Great Lakes region” points to … just that. That is, the way in which earthworms (which, due to glacial scraping in the past, are not native in Michigan or in New York) are directly and indirectly contributing to or causing maple decline, which has affected urban forests as well as exurban ones.

Michigan Tech did a great summary of the research and here is the abstract for the study, published in the journal Biological Invasions. The lead author is Dr. Tara Bal, who wrote her dissertation about sugar maple decline in the Upper Great Lakes Region.

Abstract

Sugar maple (Acer sacharrum Marsh.) in the western Upper Great Lakes region has recently been reported with increased crown dieback symptoms, prompting investigation of the dieback etiology across the region. Evaluation of sugar maple dieback from 2009 to 2012 across a 120 plot network in Upper Michigan, northern Wisconsin, and eastern Minnesota has indicated that forest floor disturbance impacts from exotic invasive earthworms was significantly related to maple dieback. Other plot level variables tested showed significant relationships among dieback and increased soil carbon, decreased soil manganese, and reduced herbaceous cover, each of which was also be correlated to earthworm activity. Relationships between possible causal factors and recent growth trends and seedling counts were also examined. Maple regeneration counts were not correlated with the amount of dieback. The recent mean radial increment was significantly correlated with various soil features and nutrients. This study presents significant evidence correlating sugar maple dieback in the western Upper Great Lakes region with earthworm activity, and highlights the need for considering the impacts of non-native earthworm on soil properties when assessing sugar maple health and productivity.