#TreeCityUSATuesday

Denver, CO

Denver has been designated a Tree City USA community for 27 years, and was awarded the prestigious Tree City USA Growth Award twice for its increased commitment to urban and community forestry.

denv skylineWith a population of more than 600,000, the mile high city offers more than just scenic landscapes. Denver’s urban and community forest, with 2.2 million trees, shades nearly 20% of the city. So how do these trees benefit Denver residents? For starters, Denver’s park systems increased property value by $31 million. More trees also mean greater energy savings, equivalent to more than $6.7 million annually.

Additionally, a comprehensive survey of 600 Denver residents revealed that Denver’s parks contributed $65 million in health savings by increasing physical activity and lowering medical expenses.

Is your city worthy of #TreeCityUSATuesday recognition?  If so, please tell us about it!

#TreeCityUSATuesday

Seattle, WA

seattle waSeattle has received Tree City USA designation for 28 years, and has been awarded the Tree City USA Growth Award 17 times.

In addition, Seattle City Light —the city’s foremost public utility company providing electricity— has been recognized as a 2013 Tree Line USA Utility.

Seattle, with a population of more than 600,000, is home to more than 4 million trees with 23% tree canopy coverage. Seattle is doing a superb job of maintaining its urban and community forest, and continually striving to improve, with a goal to reach 30% tree canopy coverage by the year 2037. Additionally, the city’s tree canopy reduces energy usage by $6 million annually.

The overall benefit of Seattle’s urban and community trees is such that their replacement value is estimated at $5 billion. That’s a significant sum and an excellent return on investment!

A city like Seattle that prides itself on its urban and community forestry efforts is worth celebrating

Is your city worthy of #TreeCityUSATuesday recognition?  If so, please tell us about it!

Can the Latest Advancement in Urban Infrastructure Benefit Your City?

One of the most common problems urban trees face is having sufficient soil and space to properly grow. Crowded cities make it challenging to mimic the natural environment in which trees thrive. Thanks to emerging green technology, cities are beginning to implement greener practices in construction that are saving cities tree repair costs down the road and creating a healthier setting for trees to grow.

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Silva cells allow water and nutrients to reach tree roots through loose soil.

Ordinarily when trees are planted in metropolitan settings they are buried under hard surfaces such as sidewalks and roads. These surfaces have to be robust enough to handle heavy vehicles. Naturally, the result of such weight is soil compaction. Soil compaction constricts water, air, and nutrients from reaching the roots, stunting the growth of trees and even leading to structural failures.

In 2007 DeepRoot introduced the Silva cell —the first commercially available soil containment system to be used in construction that supports heavy asphalt surfaces without compacting soil surrounding tree roots — a breakthrough in urban infrastructure.

So how does it work?

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Silva cells being installed in Lincoln, NE

The rigid frame is designed like a modular suspended pavement by transferring above ground loads down to a compacted sub-base while the inside of the system is filled with loose soil for roots to access. In addition to the loose soil, the system also acts as a stormwater management system, absorbing runoff and storing a large amount of water, creating an underground rain garden.

While the technology is new and still evolving, there have been more than 500 installations of Silva cells in 10 different countries. The results have been outstanding with reports of healthy tree growth, including longer bud extensions and trees flourishing to full maturity.

Lincoln, Nebraska is participating in the trend with four installations of Silva Cells at construction sites, including near the Arbor Day Foundation headquarter offices.

Is your city installing Silva cells? What other approaches is your city implementing to promote healthy urban and community forests? You may also enjoy reading our How to Save Trees During Construction, a Tree City USA Bulletin.

 

The Importance of Urban and Community Forests During Summer Storm Season

Natural disasters have a tendency to be intrusive in the least of welcome places. A city can never be fully equipped to combat the consequences of such devastation. As the anniversary of the destructive floods that overtook parts of Colorado approaches, we reflect on what communities can do to reduce the economic and environmental scars left behind from such disasters.

Tree Line StA dense tree canopy can help reduce flooding during times of heavy rain. The Tree City USA program serves as a practical guideline for cities desiring to maintain a healthy community and urban forest.

Trees serve as sponges during rainfall, soaking up rainwater. So when there are fewer trees there is more stormwater runoff. When shrubs and trees are planted along waterways they slow down flood waters, filter runoff from land, and reduce erosion in erosion-prone rivers. Check out our Trees Tame Stormwater interactive poster for a visual of how much a robust tree canopy helps a city during a storm.

Without trees, the rivers would eat away at adjoining property and fill reservoirs with silt. In addition, untreated sewage can flow into waterways, contaminating water supply and destroying natural habitat. Adding heavy rain into the mix only creates more stress and water overflow for the city.

Flat surfaces also contribute to flooding, especially in areas where trees are absent. Street puddleWhen heavy rain falls and storm drains reach capacity, rainwater has nowhere to go so it sits along streets and sidewalks accumulating in volume and damaging property.

If your community has a strong community and urban forestry program in practice than it is one step closer to mitigating stormwater runoff. To qualify as a Tree City USA community, a town or city must meet four standards established by the Arbor Day Foundation and the National Association of State Foresters. The Tree City USA program is a key component of a healthy urban and community forestry program.

Is your community a Tree City USA recognized community?

August is Tree Check Month: Is your tree safe from Asian Long-horned Beetle?

Similar to undergoing an annual health physical or performing routine maintenance on your car, it’s important to carry out routine tree checks to maintain healthy trees. Trees are susceptible to pest infestation and disease, and if you neglect looking after them the result can be detrimental to the natural habitat. The latest outbreak is the Asian Long-horned Beetle, with reports from New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Ohio. With August being Tree Check Month, we encourage you to check your trees for signs of Asian Long-horned Beetle (ALB).

7109590833_ac895c61e4[1]ALB was first detected in the United States in Brooklyn, New York in 1996. ALB is a large, bullet-shaped beetle with long antennae and elongated feet. Adult beetles emerge throughout the summer and early fall. Female beetles can lay up to 160 eggs in a 10-15 day time-span. When the eggs hatch the larvae tunnel into the tree and pupate. This disrupts the tree’s natural cycle of transpiration which results in the tree drying out and dying.

ALB is a serious threat to trees because once a tree is infested the only way of eliminating ALB is by destroying and removing the tree. Damage from infestations in New Jersey, New York, and Massachusetts has resulted in the removal of tens of thousands of trees; not to mention the hundreds of millions of dollars it has cost State and Federal governments in forestry management. This pest likes deciduous hardwood trees such as maple, birch, elm, poplar and several others. Once the beetle finds a healthy tree to nestle in it leaves its mark through dime-sized exit holes, shallow bark scars, and frass—sawdust-like material on the ground or tree branches.

A heavily infested maple tree with many exit holes.

Asian Long-horned Beetles eat through tree wood, leaving behind round exit holes.

There aren’t any effective treatments of preventing ALB, other than containment. It’s important to identify when a tree is infested because ALB spreads easily. While treatment applications or insecticides with the active ingredient imidacloprid may help protect non-infested trees and reduce ALB populations, it is not guaranteed to prevent trees from infestation. Even treated trees can fall victim to ALB.

You can help prevent the spread of ALB by burning firewood where you buy it—ALB can survive hidden in firewood— diversifying the type of trees you plant— especially if you’re in a quarantined area— conducting an annual tree check, allowing officials to survey your area, and reporting signs of tree damage or spotting beetles resembling ALB.

You might find our Help Stop Insect and Disease Invasions bulletin to be especially helpful during your August tree check. Check out this map to learn if your area is at risk of the ALB infestation.

From Forest to Faucet – the importance of trees in helping to keep your drinking water safe and clean

Did you know that well managed natural forests help provide cleaner drinking water to urban communities? A report by the USDA Forest Service states nearly 80 percent of the nation’s freshwater originates from forestland. That crisp taste of fresh water is made possible by healthy forests, and when forests are neglected or destroyed it tampers with the quality of our water supply.

glassBecause forests account for such a healthy portion of drinking water, it’s important to understand the science of how water is collected and dispensed. Forests absorb rainfall and use that water to refill underground aquifers, cleansing and cooling water along the way. Certain tree species even break down pollutants commonly found in urban soils, groundwater, and runoff, such as metals, pesticides and solvents (Watershed Forestry Resource Guide). By recycling rain water we’re not only producing higher quality water, but the impacts of such methods are valued at $3.7 billion per year.

Watersheds are a function of topography and carry water runoff downhill from land into a body of water, whether it is a lake, river, or stream. Freshwater springs in forests are an example of forestland watersheds.  In urban settings watersheds serve as a key source of drinking water and can cut costs for water treatment systems. In addition, the presence of trees can retain stormwater runoff by absorbing excess water through its leaves and roots that would normally surge through gutters and pipes.According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, there are more than 2,110 watersheds in the continental United States.

Maintaining our nation’s forests is critical both ecologically for natural wildlife and habitat and economically in saving money for cities and residents. When forests are destroyed as a result of natural disasters such as wildfire, it has a profound impact on cities. In 2002 Pike National Forest experienced the largest wildfire in Colorado history, burning approximately 137,000 acres including the upper South Platte watershed—the primary source of water for the City of Denver and its residents.

5473897573_498a390849_n[1]The Arbor Day Foundation is replanting in Pike National Forest in efforts to restore it back to its natural state. Other forests linked to important watersheds that the Arbor Day Foundation is replanting on include Payette National Forest in Idaho, Manchester State Forest in South Carolina, and the North Carolina Sandhills. You can help replant our critical forests, and help to keep our water clean, by making a donation today.

Proper summer watering of trees

Summer has an intriguing way of luring in longer days, sunnier skies, and vibrant landscapes. For many, summer is a calming retreat after enduring what felt like an endless winter. Naturally, with heat waves we feel inclined to water our trees regularly, but it’s easy to get carried away and over-water. While we have suffered through drought conditions here in the Heartland, other areas have had to deal with heavy rainfall, even flooding. The following are a few rules of thumb to keep in mind when watering your trees.

With differing climates and varying landscapes, it’s hard to quantify how much water trees need because irrigation will vary from one species to the next. Young trees and those transplanted will call for more water because they’re burning lots of energy establishing their roots in the soil.

Hose_deepwater[1]For young trees we encourage a deep-watering by running the hose over the root zone for about 30 seconds. The idea is to reach the full root depth and keep the soil damp, not soggy. Mature trees are best left to nature; unless you’re suffering from severe drought conditions, let your rainfall do the watering. Be cautious not to overwater, as it can drown the tree roots. If a puddle remains after watering then take it as a sign of too much watering. Other signs to look for include yellow leaves, usually starting on the lower branches, wilting, brittle green leaves, or fungus growing on soil surface. If your soil is wet and you notice any of these changes, you may be overwatering your trees.

Ooze-TubeGallons_1-885[1]A soil probe is helpful in learning how dry or saturated your soil is and can set the tone for watering frequency.You can also test soil moisture by hand. If a planting site is properly hydrated you should be able to compress the soil into a ball that will crumble when gently rolled between the palms of your hands. No need to dig deep, one to two and a half inches below ground level is sufficient in testing the moisture content.

Ooze tubes—an automated drip irrigation system— are another great method for controlling water time and ensuring your trees are receiving adequate water.

Mulching is a great practice to implement in tree care, especially if you’re dealing with drought conditions. Mulch retains water, helping to keep roots moist. DSC00575_000[1]Another tip to avoid drying out soil during times of drought is to stay away from commercial potting soils and fertilizers. Salts and other additives in fertilizers such as Miracle-Gro can cause root burn, adding additional stress to trees. Proper tree pruning improves limb stability and structure, and removes dead branches, which decreases tree tension and allows water to move where needed most in the tree.  Also, avoid digging holes in the ground as an effort to water deeply; it will only dry out the roots even more.

With your help, the season of sun can work in favor of your trees. You can read up on other great ways to save water in our How to Landscape to Save Water Tree City USA bulletin. What other tips do you practice in keeping trees appropriately watered during the summer season?

The dish on dirt: why soil is important to tree health

Have you ever planted multiple trees or shrubs at the same time and noticed one variety flourishing while the other has no progress? There are numerous factors that could be affecting your plant health, including soil. It’s not uncommon to overlook soil care while planting if you’re new to the green scene. We become so caught up with tree care above ground that we forget what’s happening below is just as important. Since trees grow from the ground up, it’s essential to understand their relationship with soil and the role soil plays on tree health. Using the wrong type of soil, or neglecting to use healthy soil altogether, can be detrimental and cost you your trees.

What works for your pink dogwood trees won’t necessarily work for your blueberry bushes. You see, each tree calls for a different soil type, the most common being sandy, silt, and clay. landsoils1[1]Soils vary from one location to the next. When high-quality soil isn’t present you can mix soils to change textures and create a soil more suitable for planting. Sandy soil has larger particles and a rough texture. Since the soil base is loose it’s harder to retain moisture, making it harder for plants to access nutrients. Silt is comprised of fine particles and has a smooth, slippery texture. Its tight compaction can serve as an advantage in retaining moisture and nutrients, or a problem if planted with the wrong tree.  Clay is the most tightly packed soil with little air space; as a result it makes it difficult for air and moisture to penetrate the soil.

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Signs of Chlorosis are typical of a nutrient deficiency.

Soil performs five essential functions; using the wrong type of soil or unhealthy soil can impede tree health by constricting roots from accessing the water and nutrients necessary. Soil helps regulate water, supports biodiversity, filters pollutants, provides physical support, and cycles nutrients. You can understand why attempting to plant a tree that requires less soil saturation may not thrive if it’s planted in silt or clay soil. Signs of unhealthy soil include leaf discoloration, brittle limbs, and even stunted tree growth.

roots

Exposed roots pose as a threat to tree health.

It’s also important to dig a hole deep enough for tree roots to grow. Planting in shallow soil makes tree roots more susceptible to exposure which can lead to tree stress and even toppling due to wind gusts. If you have bedrock near the surface of your soil that prevents you from digging deep you might consider mixing in top soil to add depth.

Plant growth is directly influenced by soil conditions. That’s not to say that if your plants show these signs that it’s a result of poor soil. Several varying factors go into tree health and soil care is one of them to keep in mind while planting young trees.

What tips do you have in maintaining healthy soil for planting?

References:

USDA Soil Health

University of Florida IFAS Extension

 

 

 

 

NBA Community Forestry Matchup: Miami Heat V. San Antonio Spurs

The National Basketball Association’s finals are set to begin tonight. With two respected teams battling for the championship, we examine each city’s urban forestry program in a challenge of our own. Who will win the championship in our Urban Forestry Matchup?

Miami

bayfront1[1]This diverse city of culture, entertainment, and commerce has a lot to offer to travel enthusiasts and international investors; is the city’s tree canopy impressive enough to lure in tree huggers and environmentalist? Let’s see if Miami’s urban and community forestry program lives up to the bill.

Through the Million Trees Miami Campaign, the city aims to improve its current tree coverage standing from 14 percent canopy coverage to 30 percent by the year 2020. The effort engages local organizations, cities, and residents in tree plantings to make Miami a more sustainable city.

The city’s trees remove 2,300 tons of air pollution every year. In addition to the cleaner air the city saves as much as $300,000 in energy savings, not a bad deal for a city with regular sunshine. Miami continues to strive to improve its green standing.

San Antonio

sanantoniotx-downtown-san-antonio[1]Rich in history, sports, and family fun, San Antonio proves to be a city with something for everyone. Does Texas’ second largest city have what it takes to set itself up as a sustainable city? Let’s take a look at San Antonio’s urban and community forest.

Despite impressive tree coverage of 38 percent, in 2011 San Antonio set a goal to increase its tree coverage to 40 percent by the year 2020. With tree initiatives in place and community engagement, the city is continually striving to meet its target.

In fact, the tree canopy removes as much as 13 million pounds of pollution from San Antonio’s air. With cooling costs estimated at as much as $17.7 million annually, the shade provided by city trees confirms the benefits of investing in urban and community forestry.

Community forestry programs are an asset to cities, communities, and neighborhoods, contributing to their environmental and economic well-being. The benefits made possible by a healthy, vibrant community tree canopy are enjoyed by current and future generations.

Which city do you think earns the championship trophy in our community forestry matchup?

 

References:

American Forests Urban Exosystem Analysis http://www.systemecology.com/4_Past_Projects/SanAntonio_low%20res%20final.pdf

University of Florida IFAS Extension http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/fr347

Million Trees Miami Campaign http://milliontrees.miamidade.gov/

Multiple benefits of urban ecosystems: spatial planning in Miami, USA http://www.teebweb.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/TEEBcase-Multiple-benefits-of-urban-ecosystems-spatial-planning-in-Miami-USA.pdf

NHL Community Forestry Matchup: New York Rangers V. Los Angeles Kings

Anticipation fills the air as hockey fans await the National Hockey League’s final series where the New York Rangers will play the Los Angeles Kings for the Stanley Cup. While ESPN looks at the team stats, we turn our attention to the teams’ city urban forestry stats. Which city will take home the Stanley Cup in our community forestry matchup?

New York City

This city of dreams has a vision of its own: it wants to be America’s first sustainable city. For outsiders, the idea of a greener New York may seem ambitious for such a congested social hub. How will the city achieve such a goal? Simple, through an exceptional and practical effort introduced by former Mayor Bloomberg called PlaNYC. The plan— unveiled in 2007— brought together 25 city agencies to work toward strengthening the economy, combating climate change, and enhancing the quality of life for all New Yorkers. Let’s take a peek at how this plan spans out.

2007-08-18_11-51-18_corrected[1]This city of eight million residents is currently home to five million trees. Don’t be deceived by the concrete jungle, as nearly 40 percent—11,000 acres— of New York City is parkland. The city’s trees remove 2,202 tons of pollution per year. In addition, building energy savings equate to $11.2 million per year. Under MillionTreesNYC, the city aims to plant one million trees by 2017.

Los Angeles

echoparkpic[1]Los Angeles is part of the million tree initiative aimed at planting one million new trees throughout the city. Million Trees LA is a public-private partnership between the City of Los Angeles, local non-profit organizations and businesses. In an effort to reach its goal, Million Trees LA actively provides trees to local residents and businesses.

Los Angeles may be ahead of its time when it comes to Hollywood glamour, but will the city set the trend in environmental sustainability? The city of nearly four million residents is home to 10 million trees. In fact, 11 percent of LA is comprised of trees—15,000 acres. The city’s tree canopy removes 2,000 tons of pollution annually. The city saves as much as $10 million annually in energy savings.

Community forestry programs are an asset to cities, communities, and neighborhoods, contributing to their environmental and economic well-being. The benefits made possible by a healthy, vibrant community tree canopy are enjoyed by the current and future generations.

Which city do you think earns the Stanley Cup in our NHL community forestry matchup?