Funding Your Urban Forest Program: A Guide for City Foresters and their Allies 

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Author Jenny Gulick

by Jennifer Gulick, Senior Consulting Community Forester, Davey Resource GroupJenny.gulick@davey.com

This article originally appeared to broad acclaim in City Trees, the magazine of the Society of Municipal Arborists. It has comprehensive advice on funding for urban and community forestry programs of all sizes–from the seasoned to the brand-new.  

Remember the good old days when we had all the money we needed for our urban forestry programs? No? Well, me either. In over three decades of being a municipal forester, whether working for the City of Cincinnati or consulting for other communities, I’ve never heard anyone say, “Budget increase? No thank you; we’re good.”

We’ve always needed more funding. Traditionally, municipal urban forest management program funding comes from one primary source—the general fund—with some pocket-change revenue from capital budgets, grants, and even firewood sales.

But these days, urban forest managers and their allies need to take a page from a financial advisor’s playbook and seek and secure funding from multiple sources so our budgets are sustainable and to ensure against the shifting sands of the national economy and local politics. Funding for urban forest management can also be affected by factors such as competing departmental budgetary priorities, changes in public opinion, newly elected leadership, and severe weather events.

When it comes to our budgets, we need to heed our own advice against monocultures. We shouldn’t rely on just one funding source, because you never know what will happen. And, as our personal financial planners would tell us, in order to maintain a viable urban forestry program under changing conditions in an unpredictable future, diversifying our funding sources will minimize the impacts of funding cuts from any one area.

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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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WNY CommuniTREE Stewards, Part 2: Using Social Media to Connect Participants

Gregory Badger headshotBy Gregory Badger, CommuniTREE Stewards Volunteer

I grew up hiking the woods of Honeoye in Western NY and learning about trees from my father and when I moved to Philadelphia after college, I began volunteering for some of their TreePhilly programs. Yard tree giveaways, street tree plantings, pruning days, and community gardens got me involved in the community and fueled my passion for trees. Eventually I was offered a chance to volunteer for an inventory study which put me in touch with some great people and got me interested in urban forestry.

Upon moving to Buffalo I reached out to anyone I could find to get involved, which led me to the wonderful opportunity to work with Re-Tree Western NY and the CommuniTREE Stewards Project (CTS). I knew there were a lot of trees, and a huge need for even more trees and tree care. When I got involved, this program was already moving ahead, but I wanted to help any way I could. Since I seemed to have a knack for social media, when the idea was brought up to use that to get the word out, I offered to do it.

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Taking Down the Beloved Balmville Tree

Balmville tree by Mary Kramarchyk
NYS DEC Urban Forestry Program Assistant Sally Kellogg provides perspective on the size of the Balmville tree trunk. Photo by Mary Kramarchyk

On August 5, 2015 the people of Balmville in the Town of Newburgh in Orange County said goodbye to a storied old-growth eastern cottonwood (Populus deltoides) revered by many big tree lovers. Core samples showed it to be 316 years old, far exceeding the expected life span for cottonwoods (app. 70 years); it was the oldest of its species in the United States. FDR made frequent trips to admire the Balmville Tree. The hamlet of Balmville was so named because the tree was originally thought to be a balm-of-Gilead (Populus x jackii).

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Albany Tree Planting & Urban Forestry Funding from TD Bank

St Rose students and employees, TD bank staff, city employees helping plant trees Lisa Thomsom
St. Rose students and employees, TD Bank staff, and City of Albany employees planted trees around Albany’s Hoffman Park in October 2015. Photo by Lisa Thomson

Savvy community forestry programs are always on the lookout for funding opportunities. One avenue is through two urban forestry related programs of TD Bank: TD Tree Days, and TD Green Streets. Through TD Tree Days, City of Albany Forester Tom Pfeiffer and College of St. Rose Instructor and Science Education Problem-Based Learning Coordinator Mary Cosgrove received a grant from TD Bank to plant 30 trees in Albany around Hoffman Park. TD Bank volunteers and students and staff from St. Rose, guided by Pfeiffer and his crew from the City of Albany, planted the trees on October 27, 2015.

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New CommuniTREE Stewards Program Launches in Erie County

Photo by Paul Maurer for first post
Sister Johnice of St. Adalbert’s Response to Love Center in Buffalo joined the community around the Broadway Fillmore area to help plant trees. Here, a priest from St. Adalbert’s blesses the new plantings. Photo by Paul Maurer

This is the first in a series of real-time reporting by NYSUFC Board Member Lori Brockelbank, who serves on the planning committee for this new Western NY CommuniTREE Stewards program.  

Snow days from school in early October in Western New York—not a chance! But that is exactly what happened on October 12, 2006 to the City of Buffalo and surrounding communities. With leaves still on many trees, the heavy wet snow left Western NY with a challenge unlike any in the past. Thousands of trees were damaged; some needed pruning while many needed removal.

To coordinate replanting efforts after the storm, Re-Tree WNY (Re-Tree) was formed to help replace the vast canopy that was lost. Over the last ten years, the thousands of trees lost in the October 2006 storm have been replaced by Re-Tree’s volunteers, the City of Buffalo, and the Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy.

In 2016, community partners have come together to take a natural next step in the care of these young trees by organizing a CommuniTREE Stewards (CTS) program. The intent of CTS is to train project volunteers to nurture the trees planted since 2006 and also be part of future plantings. CTS is a program of Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) of Erie County, with partners that include the City of Buffalo, Re-Tree, the Buffalo Green Fund, and Wendel Companies. We looked to similar programs, specifically Onondaga County CCE CommuniTREE Stewards, for guidance on how to organize the training for a similar program in Erie County.

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ReTree the District is Taking Root in Buffalo’s University District

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Hundreds of students from the University at Buffalo have participated in ReTree the District. For many, this is an opportunity to meet neighbors and learn more about the community surrounding campus. Photos by Darren Cotton

by Darren Cotton, Board Vice President, University Heights Collaborative

What started as a group of neighbors in Buffalo sitting around a table talking has transformed into a multi-faceted, multi-phased project that is uniting their corner of the city. ReTree the District is a collaborative project of community partners in Buffalo’s University District that is working to plant 1,000 exclusively bare root trees across the northeast corner of the city. The project utilizes the Cornell Urban Horticulture Institute bare root method and the trees come from Schichtel’s Nursery. ReTree250

Started in early 2014, ReTree the District has made great strides toward its goal of planting 1,000 trees. Between fall 2014 and fall 2015, 585 trees were planted on residential streets throughout the district’s neighborhoods. The project has already brought over 1,000 volunteers to the community who invested $85,000 in volunteer hours, it has raised over $20,000 to purchase trees and tools, and it has supported the development of many new partnerships and collaborations within the community. Planting trees has become a great way for neighbors to meet one another and contribute positively to their community. Block clubs have gotten organized, student renters have worked alongside longtime homeowners, and dozens of different organizations are working together toward the same vision.

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Saratoga Tree Nursery Kicks Off Annual Low-Cost Tree and Shrub Seedling Sale and School Seedling Program

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Spruce seedlings in the Saratoga Tree Nursery

Landowners Can Take Advantage of Low-Cost Native Plants; Available to Schools for Free

More than 45 species of trees and shrubs from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s (DEC) Saratoga Tree Nursery are now available to public and private landowners and schools, DEC Acting Commissioner Basil Seggos announced today.

“The seedlings from our Saratoga Tree Nursery help landowners create habitat and improve air and water quality in their backyard and schoolyard” Acting Commissioner Seggos said. “In addition, many types of trees and shrubs provide important food sources for bees, butterflies and other pollinating insects which have declined over recent years. I encourage all New Yorkers to take advantage of this great resource, and to work with our foresters and experts at the nursery to maximize the conservation benefits of your plantings.”

Low Cost Options for Public and Private Landowners

The program provides low-cost, native planting materials from New York sources to encourage landowners to enhance the state’s environment for future generations. The Saratoga Tree Nursery also offers a few non-native species which can enhance wildlife plantings and assist with stream bank stabilization. For instance, toringo crabapple provides a winter food source for wild turkey, grouse and deer while streamco willow is used in many stabilization projects.

Species attractive to pollinators and offered by the nursery include maples, sycamore, buckeye, willows, bristly locust, roses, viburnum (highbush cranberry, arrowwood, nannyberry), dogwood, crabapple, sand cherry, buttonbush, wild grape, and, black cherry.

The Saratoga Tree Nursery sells primarily bare-root stock for direct plantings, but a few species are available as containerized stock. Landowners can receive planting advice from their nearest DEC forestry office or private forestry consultant. The 2016 Tree and Shrub brochure (PDF) (170 KB) can be found on the DEC’s website or by calling the Saratoga Tree Nursery at(518) 581-1439. Some species sell out quickly.

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Nyack’s Tree Inventory Propels Nursery and Planting Program

Nyack's Tree Inventory began in the Village's Memorial Park
Nyack’s Tree Inventory began in the Village’s Memorial Park

Here, Nyack Tree Committee Chair Marcy Denker discusses the tree inventory recently completed in her Village. You can see the full tree inventory report here, and the key findings from the inventory can be seen after Marcy’s narrative.   

New York State Urban Forestry Program Coordinator Mary Kramarchyk says, “Nyack uses the principles of good urban forestry management to gain the best outcomes for their projects. Like Nyack, other New York communities can use the resources around them, like ReLeaf and the NYSUFC, to find tools to benefit their community programs.”

Tree Survey Photo Op-1
Foresters Allison Huggan and Carl Koehler (yellow jackets) of Davey Resource Group with Nyack Village Trustee Doug Foster, Mayor Jen White (center), and Tree Committee Chair Marcy Denker.

Marcy Denker:

When the Village of Nyack organized a Green Infrastructure Roundtable to address stormwater problems three years ago, tree planting and stewardship emerged as priority actions. The Village took the steps to become a Tree City USA the following year and received a NYSDEC Cost-Share Grant for a tree inventory. Completed in 2015 by Davey Resource Group (DRG), the inventory identified over 500 locations for tree planting on public land. That’s a lot of sites for a village of one-and-a-half square miles!

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New Guide to CU Structural Soil®

Cover of CU Soil guideRecently, the Cornell Urban Horticulture Institute, headed by Nina Bassuk, published a 57-page Comprehensive Guide to CU-Structural Soil.

This is THE publication to share with your municipality’s engineers and leadership, to show the why and how of CU-Structural Soil.

CU-Structural Soil®, also known as CU-Soil®, is a two-part system comprised of a rigid stone “lattice” that meets engineering requirements for a load-bearing paving base, and a quantity of uncompacted soil that supports tree root growth.

The first section of the Guide discusses the role of soil volume and how to calculate how much soil volume a tree needs.  No matter how well matched your tree species is to its site, limited soil volume is something few trees can abide, much less thrive in.

CU schematic
CU-Soil conceptual diagram

The Guide goes on to give the case for CU-Structural Soil  in particular, and answers FAQs like “How much CU-Soil will I need?”, “How do you plant trees in CU-Soil?”, “Can it be retrofitted for use under existing trees?”, and “How is irrigation and drainage handled?” It also explains how to obtain CU-Soil that meets quality control specifications. (This, by the way, is why CU-Soil is licensed—to ensure quality control. Otherwise, anyone could mix up rocks and soil and claim to be selling “CU-Soil.”)

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