Karen Emmerich Reflects on Municipal Forestry Institute Experience

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Karen Emmerich

Environmental consultant Karen Emmerich serves on the NYSUFC Board, on the Region 3 ReLeaf Committee, and as Tree Commission Chair for the Town of Warwick. Last February, the Council provided a partial scholarship for Karen to attend the Municipal Forestry Institute (MFI), a weeklong leadership training for urban forestry professionals and their affiliates.

MFI_logo no year“Without hesitation, I would encourage anybody who is in the urban forestry field to attend MFI,” she says. “Do whatever you have to do to get there! I found it so incredibly valuable.” She says the leadership skill building and the networking were the most meaningful to her. She especially urges young people to go, to get the benefits of MFI early in their career. More about Karen’s MFI experience later.

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Energy-Saving Trees Program: PSEG Long Island Provided 1,000 Free Trees to Customers

PSEG tree giveaway
CCE-Nassau County Horticulture Assistant K.C. Alvey (left) helped with the distribution of free trees to PSEG customers and with giving them planting advice.

On April 30, 2016, PSEG Long Island, in partnership with New York State Urban Forestry Council and the Arbor Day Foundation, provided 1,000 of its customers with a free tree through the Energy-Saving Trees program. Designed to conserve energy through strategic planting, the program will help PSEG Long Island customers save up to 20 percent on their summer energy bills once the trees are fully grown, while also improving air quality and reducing storm water run-off for all residents across the company’s service territory.

“The Energy-Saving Trees program brings multiple benefits to Long Island, helping our customers save money on their energy bills and helping to improve the environment,” said Michael Voltz, Director of Energy Efficiency and Renewables, PSEG Long Island. “The program also helps our customers better understand how the right trees in the right location can reduce their utility bills and promote ongoing system reliability.”

PSEG Long Island customers reserved their free trees at www.arborday.org/pseglongisland, an online tool that helps customers estimate the annual energy savings that will result from planting trees in the most strategic location near their homes or businesses. All customers that participated will receive one tree and are expected to care for and plant them in the location provided by the online tool, taking into account utility wires and obstructions. The types of trees offered include the following: Black Tupelo, Eastern Redbud, Black Tupelo, Scarlet Oak, and American Linden.

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2016 NYS ReLeaf Conference Preview!

 

***Save the Dates for the 24th Annual ReLeaf Conference!***
July 14-16, 2016 at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York

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Preliminary Program for 2016 ReLeaf Saratoga Springs: 

Lantern Lead Tour at Skidmore Campus
Forest Health Update
City Woods
A Grove of Grants: UCF Community Grants and Arbor Day Grants
DEC Saratoga Nursery Tour
Tools of the Trade
Tree Planting Project Case Studies
Picnic at Skidmore College
Roadside Plants and Invasives
Fruits of the Urban Forest
Sustainable Skidmore Tour
Stewardship Projects
Technology Workshop for All

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Top Five Blog Posts of 2015

Our Council blog was viewed more than 14,000 times in 2015! Here are the top five posts:

NYC Urban Forester Sumana Serchan

Sumana Serchan: Get to Know Her! Sumana Serchan is an urban forester with NYC Parks and Recreation. Sumana has a master’s degree in Environmental Management from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and a bachelor’s degree in Natural Resources/Conservation from the Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources (University of Vermont). She grew up in Kathmandu City, Nepal.

 

 

 

B&B trees on truck Matthew Stephens
Photo by Matt Stephens

Transplanting and a Deeper Look at “Fall Hazards” NYC Director of Street Tree Planting Matt Stephens and Taking Root Editor Michelle Sutton  coauthored this story questioning commonly held beliefs about “fall hazards,” mostly as it applies to B&B trees, but they also discuss the interaction of the fall season with other production methods, like bare root. Nina Bassuk helped craft the section called “The Five Branches of Transplanting Success,” which should be of interest to anyone planting trees.

 

 

 

 

Biotope 18: Landscape, Wireless, Tree bed > 54”A New Method for Streamlining Tree Selection in NYC  Council President and NYC Parks Senior Forester David Moore shares how the City streamlined its system for making tree species selections for 25,000 street tree plantings a year using an ingenious categorization of “biotopes.” A municipality of any size can use this article to think strategically about their tree selection process.

 

 

 

 

Ithaca UFMPIthaca’s Urban Forest Master Plan: A Template for Other Munis Looking for a template as you craft or revise your community’s urban forest master plan (UFMP)? Ithaca once again leads the way. The newly revised document includes a master plan, tree inventory data, and arboricultural guidelines.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Longtime Council President Andy Hillman (l) handed the torch to David Moore at ReLeaf 2015.

A Releaf to Remember Part I in a series of pictorials about the awesome 2015 ReLeaf Conference at SUNY ESF. Close behind was the inspiring Reflections from Incoming President David Moore

 

 

Jeff Kehoe on the Urban Forest Strike Team Training

Consulting Forester Jeff Kehoe
Consulting Forester Jeff Kehoe

NYSUFC Board Member Jeff Kehoe is an ISA Certified Arborist and consulting forester based out of Schenectady, NY. He has a lifelong appreciation for trees, and advanced degrees in forest management and urban planning.

Jeff participated in recent Urban Forest Strike Team (UFST) training in Syracuse organized by NYS DEC Urban Forestry Program Coordinator Mary Kramarchyk. 

Jeff Kehoe:

When I first heard about the USFT training I felt it would be an exciting way to learn more about risk tree assessment and add to my urban forestry toolkit. Also, it was a great opportunity to meet accomplished tree professionals from all over the eastern United States. The Craftsman Inn, inspired and furnished by Stickley, was a cozy setting for arborists and urban foresters to share their stories. Despite the rain, we geared up and assessed trees in and around Green Lakes State Park and Fayetteville, NY.

Every tree is unique and each observer has a different perspective on how and why a tree may fail. Strike Team responders use a streamlined evaluation process which closely follows recent ISA Tree Risk Assessment Qualification (TRAQ) standards. One of the training highlights for me was using the TRAQ program as the backbone for data collection and target/risk assessment. This advanced training uses complex language to objectively describe a potential natural occurrence. We focused on the defect in the tree which is most likely to fail within one year, the likelihood of the failure impacting a target, and the consequences of failure if it actually occurs.

It is surprising how specific and expensive dealing with trees can be, and disaster preparedness cannot be stressed enough. The cost and scale of damages can overwhelm regional resources and local budgets in a matter of minutes. Assessments made by Strike Team arborists can save healthy trees destined for the grinder or lead to improvement of a tree’s structure after emergency measures leave stub cuts or tears. Strike Team leaders stationed on-site will process field data to help control spending for FEMA, as well as the affected communities.

I applaud the USFT program, trainers, and attendees for their dedication to ensure safety for people and trees. Overall, it was an excellent experience, although having to use these newfound skills will be bittersweet.

Barb Neal on the Urban Forest Strike Team Training

Barb Neal (right) with UFST training team-mate, NYSDEC Forester Garrett Koplun
Barb Neal (right) with UFST training teammate, NYSDEC Forester Garrett Koplun

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. UFSTs conduct assessments that help communities plan needed recovery work and document to FEMA the amount of damage and cost of clean-up. You can read all about the UFSTs on this past blog post.

Organized by our state DEC UF coordinator Mary Kramarchyk, a UFST training for professionals from the Northeast area of the US Forest Service took place in Syracuse on Sept 30-Oct 1.  

Tioga County Cornell Cooperative Extension Horticulture Educator Barb Neal took the training along with many other Council members. She has an extensive background as a consulting arborist.  

Barb Neal:

It sounded interesting to me and worthwhile, especially after seeing the damage from Superstorm Sandy and how much need there was for the UFST then. My executive director, Andy Fagan was on board and supportive of the UFST training to enable me and others to help out our local NY communities in the future.

It’s always good to meet other arborists and foresters in New York, and the training was a very good a blend of class presentations and going out in the field to practice both risk assessment  and using the equipment: GPS Trimble and data logger. In the field, things that seemed simple were actually a little more nuanced than you would think. For instance, we kept having to think about the documentation requirements for FEMA and how we would record appropriately to fulfill those requirements.

Sometimes we would talk for ten or fifteen minutes about one tree in light of FEMA requirements. In the real world, you don’t have time to do that, but it was really valuable to slow down and work through that during the training. We all had to separate in our minds what FEMA requires from you vs. what you as an urban forest manager might do.

Barb Neal
Barb Neal

It was very well run and also very interesting hearing some of the war stories, like from the forester from Springfield, MA, whose city got hit with three storms in one year including an ice storm and a tornado that ripped a 40-mile swath of destruction from Springfield to Sturbridge. He was a big believer in the UFST after they came and worked for his jurisdiction.

My big takeaway was that municipalities have to be prepared with storm management plans in place prior to a storm event. The more you prepare, the faster the response will be and the more likely you will get reimbursed by FEMA. Also the better your existing documentation is, the more likely FEMA will pay something toward the removals of trees that were standing hazards at the time of the storm. Or if you have good documentation about how you currently manage your street trees, FEMA will reimburse for structural pruning as long as that’s documented as a normal part of your work. I will be advising the urban foresters in my area to get organized with all these things in mind.

I would wholeheartedly recommend the training to other arborists and urban foresters. It’s one of those things where hopefully we don’t ever get deployed or only very rarely, but the more people we have that we can call in, the more responsive we can be after a federal emergency. The training was fun, too.

NYS DEC’s First Urban Forestry Program Intern: Laura Grant

Laura Grant
Laura Grant 

NYS DEC Urban Forestry Program Manager Mary Kramarchyk says, “Summer 2015 was the first time our program hosted an intern. Having several projects in mind and not having enough time to do them myself, I set our new student guest on the quest of identifying possible Tree Campus USA candidates, Tree City communities, and performance measure activities to set our goals by.”

Mary continues, “Laura Grant was a quick study and I soon realized we could expand her activities to other subjects that interested her most. Not only did Laura get a first-hand experience in learning about the urban forestry world, she left us with much needed information to help steer our program into the coming year. We are looking forward to sharing our enthusiasm with a student intern again in 2016.”

Laura is a senior at SUNY ESF, working toward her bachelor’s degree in forest health and a double minor in urban forestry and environmental writing.

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Reflections from our New Council President David Moore

David MooreAt the 2015 ReLeaf Conference at SUNY ESF, it was fitting that ESF grad David Moore should be elected our new president. You can learn more about David from his profile last year on the blog. Here is David’s acceptance speech. 

Thank you for the opportunity to serve our state’s urban forestry council as president. It is my intention to uphold, and propel into the future, the values and efforts of those who came before me. Humbled by my peers and predecessors who share my mission and have fought hard to establish the principles and reputation of our young industry, I am grateful for your support.

You have taught me by example a pay-it-forward mentality that is rare in most industries. Early in my career I was nurtured by strangers who recognized that I shared a common mission with them. They took no issue with the fact that they would receive no material reward for helping me be successful in my urban forestry career. They helped me find the technical resources and guidance to do my job solely because we live on the same planet and are working towards benefiting the same environment. This ethic of selfless dedication is what draws me to our council and propels me through hard times in my everyday work.

How fortunate are we to have found each other as professionals and partners. In this life, there is no individual effort that can surpass the potential and actual accomplishments of a cooperative group. Imagine if the Lorax in the Dr. Seuss book could have teamed up with a team of other Lorax? How would the story have ended? That is the question we must ask ourselves as we consider the pursuits and collaborative potential of our urban forestry council.

We are at a pivotal point in history that makes our council’s work exceptionally relevant and necessary. Our state and nation are undergoing a swell in urban population growth–our partners at the U.S. Forest Service who have quantified current trends and projected future trends can verify this. Every town and city that has existing infrastructure is due for a swell over the next 30 years. Our state’s largest city, which accounts for 45% of our state’s population, is projected to grow by a million more people between 2007 and 2030.

The generation of foresters who came before me laid the groundwork in establishing urban forestry as a strategy for city planning and not just city beautification. Through tireless research and demonstrative efforts, they have validated tree planting, management, and maintenance as necessary measures for making town and city life functional and desirable.

Similarly to how networks of influential and dedicated conservationists, foresters, and policy makers helped develop public policy that protected the Adirondack Park, we now have the opportunity to provide advocacy for protecting the value of forests where the average New Yorker experiences them in everyday life–in the towns, villages, and cities where we live.

We have every right to feel optimistic about our progress and our potential. In New York City, the past ten years have provided us legislation that protects biodiversity in parkland and natural areas, that protects street trees at their full replacement value, and that mandates a street tree be planted every 25 feet along the frontage of any new real estate development. These laws represent a shift in cultural perception of the value of trees in our lives and a justification of our efforts. We aren’t just planting trees anymore, we are establishing green infrastructure by installing air filters, street cooling features, and storm water filters. The justifications for our efforts continue to be quantified in new and exciting ways as technology and research evolve with the times.

Knowing the importance and potential that progressive, technically informed tree planting and management will have on our state in the face of urbanization, can we afford to not help each other succeed? The benefit we bring each other through support, camaraderie, and networking is ten-fold the cost of the time it takes. Our strength is in our diversity of experience and in numbers. Our call to action is the need to establish livable, desirable, sustainable communities in the face of urbanization. It won’t take rocket science, but it will take tree science. It’s a technical field, but also a quite natural one.

With these words, I wish to unite us by our common interests and intentions of creating a better world for future generations through urban forestry. Together as a diverse group, seeing our differences as our strengths and our commonalities as our life blood, we are equipped to carry on our state’s tradition of environmental greatness through the 21st century.

Betty Shimo Looks Back

Betty Shimo served as Executive Secretary of the NYSUFC from 2005-2015 and she helped plan and coordinate and also facilitated 11 ReLeaf Conferences held all over the state.

RELEAF 130Betty first got connected to the Council when she was hired to facilitate the ReLeaf Conference in Utica in 2003. In 2004, she was contracted by the Council to conduct a statewide urban forestry needs survey for the Council.  This survey was beneficial in helping DEC increase their yearly grant total from the state EPF funding line from $150,000 to $500,000.

Betty says, “My time with the Council has been one of the best experiences of my life—not just in terms of work, but because of all I learned and the friends I made along the way. They will be in my heart always. The position was challenging for me in a good way, and the experience of being part of that group for 12+ years was warm and wonderful.”  

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Registration Open for ReLeaf at SUNY ESF!

It’s going to be a great ReLeaf 2015! July 16-18 at SUNY ESF in Syracuse.

Program, registration form, and conference details are available now on the NYSUFC website HERE

SUNY ESF

The theme, fitting for the conference venue, is “Environmental Science and Urban Forestry.”

Some conference highlights: 

*American Chestnut Research and Restoration Project laboratory tour and keynote talk

*Tour of SUNY ESF Gateway Center Green Roof and Illick Hall Rain Garden 

*Popular presenter Dave Nowak on Urban Forestry in a Changing Environment 

*Opportunities and Solutions for Green Infrastructure

*Onondaga Lake Ecosystem Restoration 

*Lessons from the Deer Abundance and Distribution Study in the Town of Dewitt

*Oakwood Cemetery Tree Identification

Please join us for the 23rd Annual NY ReLeaf Conference to learn, network, and connect with new friends and old!