Each year, members
of the Society of Municipal Arborists (SMA) vote for the SMA Urban Tree of the
Year. Praise for this year’s winner, American hophornbeam (Ostrya virginiana),
came from fans in states as far-flung as Wisconsin, New York, Virginia, and Texas.
Here, we hear from
the Council’s Dr. Nina Bassuk at Cornell and from her colleague, Dr. Eric
Wiseman at Virginia Tech. You can see the full list of SMA Urban Trees of the
Year going back to the program’s inception in 1996 here.
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.
The 2018 SMA Urban Tree of the Year is native to much of the Eastern United States and is cold hardy to Zone 4 and heat hardy to Zone 8b or 9. You may associate it with forests, but not so much with urban forests. Yet it definitely has its place in cities so long as its basic needs are met. It is the majestic tulip tree (Liriodendron tulipifera), a member of the magnolia family that reaches 60 to 90 feet in height and 30 to 50 feet in width. It’s named tulip tree because of the shape of its leaves, which emerge first, and its showy flowers, which follow and can be borne higher up in the canopy and somewhat hidden from view by the leaves.
Recently, Council members such as Past President Andy Hillman, Secretary Steve Harris, Board Member James Kaechele, and myself (Blog Editor Michelle Sutton) attended the Annual Conference of the Society of Municipal Arborists (SMA). It was held November 13-14, 2017 in Tulsa, Oklahoma prior to the Partners in Community Forestry Conference on November 15-16.
SMA conferences are open to and welcoming of anyone and everyone interested in urban forestry but tend to draw most from professional city foresters, parks superintendents, state UCF coordinators, urban forestry nonprofit staff, and the like. Many continue on to the “Partners” conference, organized by the Arbor Day Foundation, where they are joined by hundreds of community forestry professionals, volunteers, and activists.
A bus tour of Tulsa (human pop. ~ 400,000) highlighted the long and productive collaboration between the Tulsa Parks and Recreation Forestry Section and the nonprofit group Up with Trees, founded in 1976. Urban forestry in Tulsa was first formally recognized in 1992; its longtime city forester, Mike Perkins, recently retired from the City and went to work as operations manager for Up with Trees. Arborist Dave Zucconi then took the city forester position, rising from the ranks of Parks and Recreation. Tulsa benefits from the longtime positive working relationship between Perkins and Zucconi, who gave a very animated tour and are rightfully proud of their accomplishments and those of their colleagues.
Council Board Member Mike DeMarco attended the 2017 Municipal Forestry Institute (MFI) on scholarship from the Council and NYSDEC. MFI is an immersive, weeklong leadership training for urban forestry professionals. Here, we learn about DeMarco’s takeaways from MFI, his current position, and his work and educational background.
DeMarco says, “I would like to give a big shout out and thank you to the New York State Urban Forestry Council and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. Without the support and positive push from members of these organizations, I would not have been able to take part in MFI 2017.”
Mike DeMarco: Prior to any thought of a career in urban forestry, I spent most of my early and mid-20’s following an obsession with creating music and working as a master control operator at WWNY- TV7, a local news station in my hometown of Watertown, NY. After a few years of work in TV, I felt that something was missing in my life—that is, until 2008 when I found Tree Watertown (Watertown’s Street Tree Advisory Board). I began attending meetings and quickly discovered my love for the urban forest.
Before I knew it, I was being mentored by two individuals that have since played a huge part in my journey. They encouraged me to pursue higher education and in the fall of 2012, I graduated from SUNY-ESF with a BS in Natural Resource Management and a minor in Urban Forestry.