Elizabeth Murray is a former Village of Scottsville Trustee and a past chairperson of the Village’s Forestry Board, and now serves as the Forestry Board’s clerk. She provided this background narrative about Scottsville’s two successful cost-share grant awards and their implementation. Following that is a quick Q&A with Elizabeth.
In late 2009, the Village of Scottsville assembled an ad hoc “Forestry Committee” comprised of several residents, an Eagle Scout candidate, two Village Board trustees, the mayor, a local member of the U.S. Forest Service, and the Village’s Superintendent of Public Works. This committee was formed in response to concern over the village’s aging tree population and tree work recently conducted by a utility company on right-of-way trees.
You can count on Mike Duran-Mitchell to live-tweet important events in urban forestry, like our own NY ReLeaf Conference at Hofstra on Long Island last July and the recent Partners in Community Forestry (PCF) Conference in Charlotte. Mike is the Director of Tree Giveaways for the New York Restoration Project. Here’s a short reflection by Mike on the PCF Conference followed by some of his tweets, which are infectiously enthusiastic.
Mike Duran-Mitchell: This year’s Partners in Community Forestry (PCF) conference, held in Charlotte, NC, was a wonderful opportunity to forge broad partnerships and share best practices from across the country. The challenge, issued by Arbor Day Foundation’s Dan Lambe at the beginning of the conference, was to think about your program through a “what if?” context.
Whether it was the NYS Urban Forestry Council’s own Andy Hillman sharing an anonymous quote comparing the pain of “a trained volunteer who leaves” to the “untrained volunteer who stays,” a trip to the Bartlett Tree Lab to watch researchers chop up container-grown tree rootballs with an ax, or Dr. David Howlett at the Nevada Division of Forestry describing the results from researching biochar as a street tree planting medium, best practices were revealed to us through the “what ifs?” of programs involving planting, maintenance, stewardship, and many other aspects of urban and community forestry.
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.
As part of her plenary talk at the 2014 ReLeaf Conference at Hofstra, Urban Horticulture Institute Director Nina Bassuk held up some underutilized trees that have worked well for her in Ithaca’s urban environs. Among them was ‘White Shield’ Osage orange (Maclura pomifera). In future posts we’ll cover others she recommended, like American smoketree (Cotinus obovatus).
‘White Shield’ Osage Orange
‘White Shield’ is the most readily available cultivar of Osage orange (Maclura pomifera) on the market. Although Osage orange is native to Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Texas, it grows readily beyond its native range. Because of the thorny nature of its juvenile (non-fruiting) stems, it was used as a natural fence for keeping in livestock. By hedging the tree, the juvenile, thorny form is perpetuated. In Ithaca, there is a remnant of such a hedge right in the middle of a residential neighborhood.
Osage orange is dioecious, meaning that male and female flowers form on separate trees. This is important because the fruits on female trees are enormous, about 6 inches (15 cm) in diameter. They are a conglomerate of beautiful green seeds and fruit that hangs on the tree until ripe in early fall. They then fall to the ground and could cause injuries and property damage, not to mention the mess. I’ve heard it reported that the fruits repel cockroaches and were sold in urban greenmarkets as a natural insecticide.
Luckily, male (fruitless) cultivars like ‘White Shield’ are readily available. ‘White Shield’ is an exceptionally fast-growing form once established. Branches are distinctly upright with glossy green leaves. Another especially beautiful cultivar is ‘Wichita’, selected by the late John Pair. Both of these selections originate from Oklahoma.
Osage orange has a lot going for it as a tough urban tree. Once established, it tolerates very droughty, windy, and hot sites. It can handle a wide range of pH, including highly alkaline soils, and is purported to be tolerant of wet conditions as well. It can also tolerate salt spray. It has no serious pests, and transplants easily. It matures at 20 to 40 feet (6 to 12 m) tall and similar spread.
It is considered hardy to Zone 4a; however, we have occasionally noticed some twig dieback perhaps due to failure to harden off sufficiently before winter in our zone 5. It readily grows out of the dieback during the following summer. Fruitless cultivars of Maclura pomifera like ‘White Shield’ are definitely worth a look. —Nina Bassuk, Director of the Cornell Urban Horticulture Institute
In this second blog post about Nina Bassuk, we learn about her extensive home landscape. She is also an accomplished flutist who graduated in 1969 from the Music and Arts High School (now known as the Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts) in her native NYC. Nina says that recently she reunited with some members of her high school class to play chamber music at the art exhibit of some other former classmates. She is also accomplished on the piano.
“The New York State Urban Forestry Council has taken another major step forward in its mission to support the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Urban and Community Forestry Program. As one of the most active councils in the United States, we are very excited about administering a grant program that is designed to help New York State communities celebrate Arbor Day and make efforts toward attaining Tree City USA status.” —Andy Hillman, President, NYSUFC
The NYS Urban Forestry Council is pleased to announce available funding for projects in small communities (population up to 65,000) to have an Arbor Day event and begin a community forestry program. This funding is provided by the USDA Forest Service and the New York State DEC Urban Forestry Program.
Grants of up to $1,000 will be awarded to communities or non-profits that work in partnership with municipalities to celebrate Arbor Day 2015 and form a shade tree committee within the municipality.
NYS DEC is committed to providing support and assistance to communities in comprehensive planning, management, and education to create healthy urban and community forests and to enhance the quality of life for urban residents through its Cost Share Grant program.
The availability of the next round of funds will be announced in late spring 2015, and the due date for applications provided at that time. At least $900,000 in grants will be available to municipalities, public benefit corporations, public authorities, school districts and not-for-profit organizations that have a public ownership interest in the property or are acting on behalf of a public property owner.
Communities may request from $2,500 to $50,000, depending on municipal population. Funds are made available from the Environmental Protection Fund and will be managed and allocated by DEC.
Previously we featured super dynamo Council cofounder Nancy Wolf. Continuing in that series, we talk here with another beloved Council cofounder and current board member, Cornell Urban Horticulture Director Nina Bassuk, who prefers to go by “Nina.” We asked her about her recollections about the early days of the Council. In a subsequent post, we’ll get some updates about things going on in the life and garden of Nina and her husband, the landscape architect Peter Trowbridge.
Nina, a native of NYC, received her bachelor’s degree in Horticulture at Cornell and then went on to receive her Ph.D. from the University of London while carrying out her research at the East Malling Research Station in Kent, England. Her current work in Cornell’s Urban Horticulture Institute focuses on the physiological problems of plants grown in urban environments, including plant selections, site modification and transplanting technology.
Nina is the coauthor with her husband of Trees in the Urban Landscape, a book for arborists, city foresters, landscape architects, and horticulturists on establishing trees in disturbed and urban landscapes. Nina is on the technical advisory committee of the Sustainable Sites Initiative (SITES) and helped to develop the Student Weekend Arborist Team (SWAT) to inventory public trees in small communities. She is a recipient of the Scott Medal for Horticulture and an ever-popular speaker at the ReLeaf Conference.
Nina Bassuk on the Council’s Origins: “The impetus for the creation of the Council—which was then known as the NYS Urban and Community Forestry Council—was the fact that federal grants were coming from the US Forest Service to the states for the first time for urban forestry related projects. Each state had a different way of handling the grant funds; for instance, in Pennsylvania the money went through Cooperative Extension, while in New York the money went through DEC.
One of the requirements of the federal grants was to have an advisory group advising the DEC, who would in turn handle grants to municipalities, on urban forestry matters. The state foresters had to learn about urban forestry in a hurry! Some of them embraced the new urban forestry aspect of their positions, while others didn’t.
This essay comes to us from NYC Parks Forester Bill Schmidt. Bill is a Certified Arborist who coordinates urban forestry for the Greening Western Queens project.
Last Sunday, September 21, 2014, I joined over 300,000 of my fellow human beings in Manhattan for the largest climate change march in history. I was delightfully overwhelmed by the incredible turnout and the diversity of the participants.
There were young people, senior citizens, middle-aged Gen Xers like myself, faith-based organizations (I was marching next to a lovely group of elderly nuns), Native and African American groups, and organizations representing a variety of issues not directly related climate change who were marching out of solidarity.
It was a truly inspiring experience. During the march, I thought about what climate change meant to me as a forester, a father, and a global citizen. When I returned to the office Monday morning, a colleague suggested that I should encapsulate these thoughts about the march and share them with others in my field. So, here is my attempt to express how I felt in eight paragraphs or less.
“Collaboration” and “Partnership” can be empty buzz words or they can be impressive manifestations of passion, hard work, and HEAPS of patience. In his article, “Collaborative Effort in Columbia, MO Spearheads the Renewal of a Former Sewage Plant Site into Wetlands Habitat,” Columbia Park Natural Resources Supervisor Brett O’Brien tells an exceptional tale of collaboration, with abundant pics. The article starts on page 28 of the Sept/Oct 2014 edition of City TREES, the magazine of the Society of Municipal Arborists.
How did Columbia go from this:
and from this:
This is a must-read for all urban foresters and their allies, even those with no connection to urban wetlands restoration, because the collaborative aspect speaks to us all.