Council Member Profile: Arborist & Educator Berna Ticonchuk

Berna in front of a Parrotia persica at the 2019 NY ReLeaf Conference in Rochester.

Arborist Berna Ticonchuk coordinates the Horticulture program at Finger Lakes Community College (FLCC) and teaches the Introduction to Horticulture, Tree Culture and Maintenance, Plant Propagation, and Certified Applicator Training courses. 

Prior to coming to FLCC in 2002, Berna had a 20-year career in public gardens in Rochester and Canandaigua. She brings a wealth of knowledge and professional connections to her FLCC students and to her service on the City of Canandaigua Tree Advisory Board and Sonnenberg Gardens Education Committee.  

 She says, “One of the strengths of our FLCC program is the deep and longstanding connection we have to green industry professionals around the State who we can put students in contact with. That professional networking, along with keeping up with urban forestry research and practice, are the main reasons I go to the ReLeaf Conference and to regional ReLeaf events.”

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Urban Forest Adaptation to Climate Change: Key Tools and Resources

 At the 2019 NY ReLeaf Conference last July in Rochester, Dr. Leslie Brandt presented a fascinating talk about her work on urban forest adaptation to climate change, and she offered up powerful resources and tools to our community. Here’s a brief summary of those resources compiled by blog editor Michelle Sutton in consultation with Dr. Brandt.   

Background

The Climate Change Response Framework (forestadapation.org) is a collaborative, cross-boundary approach among scientists, managers, and landowners to incorporate climate change considerations into natural resource management.

The Framework’s partners are numerous and wide-ranging, including the Bureau of Indian Affairs, National Park Service, U.S.D.A. Forest Service, U.S. Geological Survey, and dozens of state and local governments, Native American tribes and tribal organizations, universities, and ecological and urban forest institutes and organizations.

The Northern Institute of Applied Climate Science (NIACS) works with partners to lead Framework activities across the Midwest and Northeast U.S. Within the Climate Change Response Framework, the Urban Forestry focus addresses urban forest vulnerability for cities and creates tools to help local managers adapt to the effects of climate change.

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ReLeaf 2019 in Pictures, Part III

Saturday’s keynote speaker, Andrew Revkin (pictured here with his partner, Lisa) brought an international perspective and images in his talk, “Forest Lessons in a Changing Climate.” Revkin is a celebrated environmentalist and musician who, fortunately for us, lives in the Hudson Valley. 
Davey Resource Group Urban Forester/Project Developer Sophia Rodbell serves on the Council Board and volunteered at ReLeaf registration.
Just a mile or so from Mount Saint Mary College is the lovingly designed and coneflower-filled national historic site of the storied Balmville Tree, a cottonwood (Populus deltoides) that was 316 years old when it became too hazardous to the public to stand.

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What is Buffalo Rain Check? A Pictorial Introduction

Students in a summer program test out the porosity of the porous pavement installed in the bike lane as part of Buffalo Rain Check’s Kenmore Avenue Green Streets Project.

In addition to public works departments, many cities find a driving force for urban forestry is the water and sewer agencies who are responsible for managing stormwater. Buffalo Sewer is one such entity who is fighting for more tree canopy cover throughout the City of Buffalo through its Rain Check program. In partnership with residents, businesses, developers, and local institutions, Buffalo Sewer is finding myriad ways to capture and absorb water in the City and its spaces, with environmental justice and equity as a main priority.

Here’s a pictorial highlighting some of the projects. You can also take a virtual tour of eight ambitious green infrastructure projects in Buffalo through the Rain Check site.

Located at the foot of West Ferry Street on the scenic Niagara River, Broderick Park is steeped in history, most notably as a major terminus of the Underground Railroad between the United States and Canada. The park pays tribute to the people who crossed the water from that point to freedom in Canada and is listed as a designated Network to Freedom site by the U.S. National Parks Service, a national network of historic places and educational or interpretive programs associated with the Underground Railroad. Recent renovations to the park include new entrance features, a small performance amphitheater, a waterfront promenade, new shelters, and revised parking facilities—all with the intent to uplift the space as a public memorial to the incredible local history of the Underground Railroad. The City of Buffalo recently invested over $1 million in a range of renovations to the park, including updated parking facilities with green infrastructure elements. By using porous pavement in the parking areas, the pavement surface keeps over 124,000 gallons of stormwater from entering sewers in a typical rainfall event, protecting local water quality. The porous pavement looks just like regular asphalt but allows water to drain through the paved surface into a recharge bed and infiltrate into the soils below the pavement.

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Report on Forested Natural Areas in American Cities

In March 2019, the Natural Areas Conservancy, the Trust for Public Land, and Yale School for Forestry and Environmental Studies released “Untapped Common Ground: The Care of Forested Natural Areas in American Cities.” This report is based on a survey of 125 organizations in 110 cities and how they manage their forests.

There’s a lot more nature in cities than people think! Urban natural areas represent 1.7 million acres but often don’t receive the investment, recognition, or care they deserve.

Read the full report.

Urban forested natural areas can be a tool to achieve cities’ resiliency, climate change, and public health goals. More Americans are moving into cities, and for many, these places represent their best access to nature. The time to invest in urban nature is now.

What’s Next?

The Natural Areas Conservancy and its partners will convene representatives from a select number of cities from across the country for workshops in fall 2019. Next year, they’ll publish case studies on how cities manage their forest natural areas. Check this page for updates on the project.

What are Urban Forested Natural Areas?

The term “urban forest” refers to all trees within a city including street trees, landscaped trees, private property, and forested natural areas. Forested natural areas are distinct from street and park trees in their size, biodiversity, and how they’re managed. They are important native habitats, and are the “woods” in cities.

 

Cornell Opens New Sustainable Landscapes Trail

Students in Nina Bassuk and Peter Trowbridge’s Creating the Urban Eden class, planting the bioswale in the Peterson parking lot, the site of the recent Cornell Sustainable Landscapes Trail opening ceremony. Photo from Cornell Horticulture blog (https://blogs.cornell.edu/hort)

With excerpts from Cornell Chronicle and the CU Sustainable Landscapes Trail web page

On October 5th, 2018, Nina Bassuk led a tour of the new Sustainable Landscapes Trail on the Cornell campus after an opening ceremony in which, instead of ribbon-cutting, officials celebrated with a “downpour” of water onto the permeable asphalt of the Peterson parking lot, which is underlain by CU-Structural Soil and also features a large bioswale.

A number of the 20 sites along the Trail are associated with the Urban Horticulture Institute/Nina Bassuk, including chinkapin oaks (Quercus muehlenbergii) in CU Soil outside Stocking Hall, goldenrain trees (Koelreuteria paniculata) and silver lindens (Tilia tomentosa) in CU Soil outside Weill Hall, the Tower Road Bioswale, the Ag Quad Biodetention Basins, and the Mann Library Entrance SITES Accredited Garden. Many of these projects involved Nina Bassuk and Peter Trowbridge “Creating the Urban Eden” students in their implementation. For instance, the creation of the Rice Hall Bioswale involved students using the research-based “Scoop and Dump” technique described here

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SMA 2019 Arborist Exchange Accepting Applications from Munis, Nonprofits, Utilities

The Society of Municipal Arborists has expanded their Arborist Exchange Program to include not just municipal arborists but also utility arborists and urban forestry nonprofit professionals. Applications are due December 29, 2018 for the 2019 exchange. Further details here.

 

 

 

Hybrid Oaks from Nina Bassuk/UHI Available to Communities in Spring 2019

Quercus macrocarpa x Q. turbinella hybrid in UHI research plots. Photos by Nina Bassuk

For nearly 15 years, Nina Bassuk and her grad students at the Cornell Urban Horticulture Institute (UHI) have been developing hybrid oaks for exceptional tolerance of urban conditions (drought, alkaline soil, etc.) Bassuk now has 230 hybrid oaks of 2-3 inch caliper in her research fields. “I’d be happy for villages and cities in NY to plant them out so I can continue to evaluate them over time,” she says.

She is offering them to municipalities of any size in April of 2019. The cost would be $50 per tree to cover the B&B process. Communities could arrange for transportation or pick the trees up themselves. Bassuk says it would be preferable to have at least five trees go to any one community so she can efficiently evaluate them around the state.

If your community would like to plant at least five of these unique, new oak hybrids, please contact Nina Bassuk at nlb2@cornell.edu. Read on for more background about this fascinating research.   

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Prospect Park Tree Inventory & Benefits Analysis: Results Are In!

September 14, 2018

Through a $75,000 Urban Forestry Grant from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Prospect Park Alliance recently surveyed roughly 12,000 of the park’s 30,000 trees as part of its work in caring for the Park’s natural areas.

The survey not only provides a more nuanced picture of the park’s evolving ecosystem, but important insights into the economic, environmental and health benefits of Brooklyn’s Backyard. Conducted by Davey Resource Group (DRG), a well-respected urban forestry consultancy that has worked extensively in New York City, you can examine the results on the Prospect Park TreeKeeper Interactive Map.

“The survey has provided exciting insight into what we already knew were some of the park’s most important treasures, its trees,” said Prospect Park Alliance President Sue Donoghue. “We are all aware of how special this urban green space is, but now with this data we can quantify the economic benefit our community receives from these trees. It clearly reinforces just how precious this resource is, and how we must all do our part to care for it.”

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Cornell Urban Horticulture Institute Team Evaluates Condition of National Mall Elms

Cornell UHI team Barbara Neal, Bryan Denig, and Nina Bassuk assess the health of one of the iconic elms ringing the National Mall. Photo by Yoshiki Harada

In April 2018, the Cornell Urban Horticulture Institute team of Nina Bassuk, Bryan Denig, Yoshiki Harada, and Barbara Neal released an extensive report on the elms (including American elms) of the National Mall in Washington, D.C. The report details a study conducted at the request of the National Park Service to examine the current conditions of the trees and soils on the tree panels of the National Mall, and it includes a fascinating history of the landscape. Here are some highlights from the report.

The National Mall elm trees are an important planting in the monumental core, yet they face several challenges. The soils of the tree panels are very compacted, most likely due to the constant pedestrian use and the numerous large organized events that take place on the Mall. Unevenness in the size and distribution of the tree canopy has resulted from decades of mortality (often due to Dutch Elm Disease) and the planting of certain elm varieties with growth forms that are seen as incompatible with the planting as a whole.

From June 17–20, 2017, the research team conducted a tree inventory and collected soil data and samples for later analysis. In addition, in November 2017, ground penetrating radar done by Council member Gary Raffel was used to document root growth for seventeen of the trees. This report deals with the current tree and soil conditions, while management recommendations are in a separate report to be released in late 2018 or early 2019. 

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