American Chestnut Program at SUNY ESF Featured at the Upcoming ReLeaf Conference

At the 2015 ReLeaf Conference, you will have the opportunity to go behind the scenes of the SUNY ESF Chestnut Research and Restoration Project. Why is this research so critical? Why is bread mold key to the restoration of the American chestnut (Castanea dentata)? Watch these videos, and just try not to become infected with enthusiasm for this effort!

On ReLeaf Thursday, take a tour with Dr. Chuck Maynard of the laboratory and greenhouse where this groundbreaking research takes place. On Friday, hear the keynote talk from Maynard and Dr. Bill Powell, codirectors of the American Chestnut Research and Restoration Project, about restoring the American Chestnut.

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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! 

 

NYC ReLeaf’s COUNT TREES Workshop, Part I

NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver gave the keynote address.
NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver gave the keynote address.

With the exception of Sumana Serchan’s reflections, this two-part post was written by NYS DEC Division of Lands and Forests Outreach Coordinator Nina Medakovich. Part I brings us workshop highlights. Part II delves into the power of letter-writing advocacy and includes an advocacy template letter written by Nina. Thank you, Nina and Sumana.   

NYC ReLeaf’s Spring workshop “COUNT TREES: Why Do a Tree Census?” was held on March 6th at Brooklyn Borough Hall to highlight the value of collecting and analyzing data on urban trees. With the NYC Parks Department preparing to undertake the decennial Street Tree Census this summer, NYC ReLeaf considered it a timely and relevant topic.

The workshop aimed to convey why collecting data on urban trees is so crucial to survival and growth of the urban forest, investigate federal research on urban forests, reflect on the success of and lessons learned by NYRP’s Tree Giveaway program, equip volunteers with tree advocacy skills, and introduce the 2015 Street Tree Census.

NYC Releaf workshop
Settling in for the workshop. Photo Courtesy Million Trees NYC

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Underutilized Trees for Urban Use: American Smoketree

A young specimen and adjacent mature one can be found on the Hofstra University campus on Long Island. Photo by Michelle Sutton
A young single-stem specimen and adjacent mature multi-stem one can be found on the Hofstra University campus on Long Island. Photo by Michelle Sutton

During her 2014 New York ReLeaf Conference plenary talk, Urban Horticulture Institute Director Nina Bassuk lifted up some underutilized trees for urban use. One of them, American smoketree (Cotinus obovatus) was growing just outside the conference room doors on the Hofstra University campus, where a mature specimen stood protectively behind a newly planted youngster. American smoketree is native to the U.S. South and Midwest.

Naturally and by training, American smoketree has a more tree-like habit than European smoketree (C. coggygria), and it matures up to 30 feet (9 m) tall and 20-30 feet (6 to 9 m) wide—twice as big as C. coggygria. It is hardy to zone 4 or 5, depending on which reference you consult. It is deer resistant and tolerant of drought and poor soils but doesn’t like to have wet feet for prolonged periods. Missouri Botanical Garden voted it one of its “Tried and Trouble-Free” tree species.

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Vinnie Drzewucki on Tackling the Public’s Dendrophobia, the Fear of Trees

CCE Nassau County Horticulture Educator Vinnie Drzewucki
CCE Nassau County Horticulture Educator Vinnie Drzewucki

At the 2014 ReLeaf Conference in July at Hofstra University, CCE Nassau County Horticulture Educator Vinnie Drzewucki (pron. “Sha-VOOT-ski”) gave an engaging talk on “Breaking the Fear of Trees: How to Help the Public Overcome their Dendrophobia.” He graciously shares the highlights of his talk here on the blog. Thanks, Vinnie!

Fear of Trees title page

Breaking the Fear of Trees, by Vinnie Drzewucki
For most of you reading this blog, being afraid of trees is probably just about the strangest thing you’ve ever heard of. Lately, though, I meet many citizens who are afraid of trees.

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A Whitman’s Sampler of ReLeafers

Urban and community foresters (both paid and volunteer) and their advocates and allies are some of the most interesting and warm people you will meet. I endeavored to meet everyone at the 2014 ReLeaf Conference at Hofstra, but alas, the buzzer went off too soon. I wish there had been more time to trade our stories! But thankfully, sharing our stories is something we can do in TAKING ROOT. For now, here are some of the ReLeafers I did get to meet. Warmly, Michelle Sutton, your TR Editor

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Region 7’s Kate Woodle worked for over 25 years as Exhibit Designer, Graphics Artist, and Illustrator at the Rosamond Gifford Zoo in Syracuse. Retired from that position, she now works freelance and is also a photographer and children’s book illustrator. You can see her work at katewoodleillustration.com.

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ReLeaf Rock Band! Video of Bram Gunther and Friends

 

For the members’ reception Thursday night of 2014 ReLeaf Hofstra, we were delighted to have a live rock band, Billy Goes Buffalo. The lead singer is Bram Gunther, Chief of Forestry, Horticulture, and Natural Resources for NYC Parks and Recreation. (Bram is also a novelist in his “free time.”) The bass guitarist is carpenter Tim Foster, and the drummer is David Maddox, publisher of The Nature of Cities. When asked for the story behind Billy Goes Buffalo, Bram says, “We are just friends having fun.”

 

ReLeaf 2014: Horticulture at Hofstra

Many college campuses have arboreta or like to say, “The whole campus is an arboretum!” At Hofstra, they take their arboretum to the next level, adding diverse, intensively planted gardens around every corner. I was truly blown away. Each evening after workshops and a happy frenzy of socializing, I strolled around the campus grounds by myself, mouth agape at the beauty and diversity, and took hundreds of pics.

For background, check out this terrific short video interview of Hofstra Arboretum Director Fred Soviero. Fred was truly on fire when giving us our tours; we loved his energy and great sense of humor! Then read on to the pictorial that follows.

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ReLeaf 2014 at Hofstra, Part III: Deconstructing a Special Picture

I love this picture so much. To me, it captures the exuberance of ReLeaf 2014. Let’s break down who’s who and also talk about the Thomas Jefferson statue. -Michelle Sutton, Ed. 

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AnnaRELEAF 209 Carragee is the Forest Program Assistant for Cornell Cooperative Extension Syracuse. Anna works on Onondaga County’s Save the Rain program to provide street trees to properties around the city in order to beautify neighborhoods, provide environmental benefits, and reduce combined sewer overflow events. Prior to that, she was an urban forest technician for the City of Syracuse. Anna received her BS in Natural Resources: Resource Ecology from the University of Vermont and is working on her Master’s in Environmental Horticulture.

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Kim Zhang is the Forestry Program Educator for CCE Onondaga County. Kim earned her Bachelor of Landscape Architecture from SUNY – College of Environmental Science and Forestry with a concentration in community planning. During her time in school she interned at Wave Hill, working with youth in forest restoration. Prior to starting at CCE on the Save the Rain program, Kim worked at New York Restoration Project on the MillionTreesNYC initiative, working with cemeteries, faith-based institutions, and NYS Department of Transportation to get trees planted throughout NYC. Since then, she has worked with citizens on community planning meetings, garden designs, and supervised the construction of community gardens. Kim really enjoys working with communities at large and hopes to improve neighborhoods through green infrastructure.

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ReLeaf Retrospective: Part II

The speakers for 2014 ReLeaf at Hofstra were dynamite! Here are some of them: 

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ReLeaf 2014 at Hofstra: The Nature Conservancy’s Director of Forest Health Protection Bill Toomey was our keynote speaker on the many urban-forestry related initiatives TNC is now involved with, including the Healthy Trees, Healthy Cities project. Bill brought a great sense of humor to his presentation.
ReLeaf 2014: Why is 'Right Plant, Right Place' not enough anymore? What underused street trees, like American smoketree, hardy rubber tree, and Miyabe maple should we be considering? Also, how are uniform allees akin to "tree pornography?" Dr. Nina Bassuk covered a lot of territory in her talk, "Trees for the Urban Landscape."
ReLeaf 2014: Why is ‘Right Plant, Right Place’ not enough anymore? What underused street trees, like American smoketree, hardy rubber tree, and Miyabe maple should we be considering? Also, how are uniform allees akin to “tree pornography?” Dr. Nina Bassuk covered a lot of territory in her talk, “Trees for the Urban Landscape.”
The beloved Jim Kisker of Schichtel's Nursery has been a steadfast ally to the urban forestry community. His and Schichtel's support of affordable bare root transplanting has revolutionized the UF landscape! Jim presented with his colleague Bill Snyder of Greenleaf Supplies on "The Decline of the Urban Forest and Pesticide Resistance: How to Make Your UF More Resilient."
The beloved Jim Kisker of Schichtel’s Nursery has been a steadfast ally to the urban forestry community. His and Schichtel’s support of affordable bare root transplanting has revolutionized the UF landscape! Jim presented with his colleague Bill Snyder of Greenleaf Supplies on “The Decline of the Urban Forest and Pesticide Resistance: How to Make Your UF More Resilient.”
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CCE Nassau County Horticulture Educator Vinnie Drzewucki (pron. “Sha-VOOT-ski”) gave a great talk on “Breaking the Fear of Trees,” How to Help the Public Overcome their Dendrophobia. Would love to do a blog post of Vinnie’s talk; it was very enlightening — e.g., more people die from jellyfish encounters than from tree encounters! 
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Hofstra Arboretum Director Fred Soviero gave an unforgettable, high-energy tour of the Campus/Arboretum. More about the campus in the next blog post!