Members’ hazelnuts growing at Arbor Day Farm

Last summer, staff at the Arbor Day Farm greenhouse reached out to a select group of members for their help with our hazelnut project.

Hazels270The Foundation and its Hybrid Hazelnut Consortium partners – Rutgers University, Oregon State University and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln – have worked since 2008 to develop disease-resistant hybrid hazelnuts that will thrive in a variety of soils and climates.

For years, we have been collecting hybrid hazelnuts from participating members, in hopes of getting closer to that so-called “super hazelnut.”

The results have been fascinating. Hazelnuts we’ve gotten back here in Nebraska have been brown, almost black, some even reddish, and of varying sizes. All are healthy and critical to our continued research. Read more about it at the Lied Lodge & Arbor Day Farm Blog.

The benefits of hazelnuts as a perennial woody crop are profound. The leafy bushes are ideal for absorbing carbon dioxide through much of the year. The plants are drought and flood resistant, thus able to be maintained without heavy labor. And, protein-rich nuts provide a healthy source of nutrition for the planet’s expanding population. One day, they could help feed healthy nations.

It’s happening right here at Arbor Day Farm in Nebraska City – and in the yards of our members across the country.

Bagged-Nuts_Variable

Photos courtesy of Arbor Day Farm.

Oregon Department of Forestry: Trees benefit business districts

State foresters often have their hands full with managing public woodlands miles away from the nearest home or business. But it’s becoming more common to hear them tout the numerous benefits of urban forestry, whether they work directly with cities or not.

Downtown-EugeneCynthia Orlando, a certified arborist with the Oregon Department of Forestry, makes the case for urban forestry in general and the pluses to commercial areas in particular in an op-ed in the Statesman Journal.

The research points to substantial long-term gains in commercial areas with ample street trees. U.S. Forest Service studies have found $2.70 in benefits for every $1 invested in city trees, and Orlando also points to University of Washington research showing increased foot-traffic in tree-lined commercial areas.

There’s also the qualitative element. What kind of attributes are people looking for in a business district? Orlando writes:

Healthy trees send positive messages about the appeal of a district, the quality of products there and what customer service a shopper can expect — they’re an important component of any program to attract shoppers and visitors

Portland received well-deserved attention for its growing tree canopy, but many of Oregon’s smaller cities have exciting programs as well. Oregon State University in Corvalis is the first and only Tree Campus USA in the state. Salem and Eugene (pictured above) are both drawing new housing and business to their forested downtown.

Find out more about urban and community forestry in Oregon here.

Photo courtesy of Oregon Attractions

Recycling real Christmas trees gives back to the earth all year-round

A previous blog post  emphasized the environmental, economical and social benefits of purchasing a real Christmas tree over an artificial one.

Photo Credit: Cross Timbers Gazette

As the season comes to a close, we thought we would highlight some environmentally friendly ways to dispose of real Christmas trees and give back to the earth.

It is important to recycle real Christmas trees because they contain valuable nutrients that can be used in other capacities like compost or mulch.

According to Earth911, a website that specializes in providing consumers recycling information, some of the main uses for post-harvest, recycled trees include the following:

  • Chipping (used for various things, from mulch to hiking trails)
  • Beachfront erosion prevention and river delta sedimentation management
  • Lake and river shoreline stabilization including fish habitat

The methods for recycling a real Christmas tree can vary depending on where you live, so it is important to be knowledgeable of your community’s tree recycling processes and rules.

Photo Credit:
Richmond District

The three most common options available for recycling your Christmas tree are curbside pick-up, drop-off programs and do-it yourself projects.

The most convenient (but not always available) option is curbside pick-up. In neighborhoods where this method is offered, it is important that Christmas tree owners follow neighborhood guidelines to ensure that their tree does not get picked up with the regular trash collection and end up in a landfill.

Photo Credit:
Record-Courier

Drop-off programs are only available for a limited time after the holidays but offer a one stop solution for tree recycling needs. Real Christmas trees can be dropped off at specified collection sites as long as they are completely free of all decorations. It is important to note that trees that have been flocked with fake snow are usually not eligible for recycling programs.

Finally, there is always the do-it-yourself option. Live Christmas trees can be chopped into firewood or used for home projects and crafts. For some households, they can be used as natural water habitats when placed in a pond or body of water.

You can visit Earth911’s database to find the Christmas tree recycling solution closest to you.

U.S. Forest Service says increased land use development threatens woodlands

Last month, the U.S. Forest Service released a comprehensive report on how increased population and land use development may threaten woodlands and their numerous benefits in the next 50 years.

According to the report, where regions choose to locate new residential and commercial development in the coming decades could have a big impact on the health of privately-owned forests, which we rely on to help provide clean drinking water, wildlife habit and outdoor recreation, among other benefits.

Forested land also helps remove pollutants from the air and sequester the carbon emissions that contribute to climate change.

While the amount of land currently under development or with the potential to be developed remains very small as a percentage of total U.S. land, many of the areas slated for building are both close to existing urban areas and likely to intersect with forests.

The report does not include policy recommendations, but it does point to areas where elected leaders may want to pursue a different course that betters conserves finite resources.

Most decisions about where to build rest with local governments, but their choices are heavily influenced by federal transportation, energy and housing policy. For example, a transition to more renewable fuels would reduce harmful emissions that put a strain on forests. More transportation options would ease traffic congestion and reduce the need for new highway construction. And, practical and affordable housing in more centralized locations would reduce the need for some new development in the outskirts of urban areas.

Local leaders may also begin to transition priorities themselves as their constituents advocate for woodlands and recreation for quality-of-life purposes.

How we allocate our land resources means a lot for America’s forests. With this report, policymakers and citizens can continue the discussion on how to best balance growth and conservation.

Looking back and looking forward in urban forestry

The Arbor Day Foundation was launched in 1972 during the tree-planting holiday’s centennial year. Much has happened in the 40 years since, and much work remains.

We have seen great progress, for example, in the spread of effective urban forest management. For many years, tree care at the municipal level was haphazard to non-existent. The standards and recognition of the Tree City USA program has helped to change that, due in large part to the partnership of the U.S. Forest Service and National Association of State Foresters.

The increased attention to urban trees care was alive at this year’s Partners in Community Forestry Conference, where a number of panelists pointed to street trees as central to creating great cities where people want to live.

In Richmond, California, and Baltimore, Maryland, and Camden, New Jersey, the beauty of newly-planted trees and community pride they inspire has strengthened neighborhoods and begun to put a dent in crime. Experts in planning and design say trees help attract new residents and commercial development. Trees are also central to the fight against climate change, with some communities finding innovative ways to include trees in cap-and-trade programs.

But urban forestry has also suffered from some setbacks. Heavy drought during the past two summers have killed or severely damaged millions of trees, with the U.S. Forest Service estimating that urban tree cover has been declining by 0.9 percent annually. Major storms have presented challenges for communities that contain both mature trees and above-ground power lines. And, declining resources have led some cities to pursue misguided policies that would transfer the responsibility for street trees from professionals to individual homeowners.

Solutions exist to all of these challenges, but they require continued management and resources. The Foundation will continue to advocate for both.

But some creativity may also be required. For example, rather than shifting tree care responsibility to people who not seek it, cities could follow the example of Chico, California, in pursuing voluntary tree care partnerships. With a declining tax base and abandoned neighborhoods, Detroit leaders opted for a controversial land purchase to allow for urban farming, an approach that has already found success in Chicago, Newark and elsewhere.

We look forward to your continued support and partnership as we continue to inspire people to plant, nurture and celebrate trees – both in our nation’s cities and throughout the country.