Winter’s Icy Arrival Devastates Tree Canopy

With the first series of ice storms pounding parts of Texas and Oklahoma, saying that winter is here would be an understatement. It’s mindboggling to think a few short weeks ago the South was experiencing the peak of its fall foliage. As disheartening as it is, those same trees that shared their vibrant fall colors are the ones most susceptible to the after effects of the ice storm.

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Ice Friday morning in Hugo, OK

Steve Houser, president of Dallas tree care company Arborilogical Services, explains, “With the warm weather, some trees were holding their leaves longer, and that made them more vulnerable to ice.”

You see, more leaves means more surface area for ice, which means more weight on branches, causing them to break.  Fallen branches, or whole trees for that matter, pose as a threat to public safety. Fallen trees can block roadways, tear down power lines, and cause other serious damage. The combination of strong winds and freezing rain serves as winter’s favorite recipe for disaster. However, winter’s assault won’t go without some resistance. To restore the loss of trees and help communities replant after natural disasters, check out our Community Tree Recovery program.

The effect of ice on trees is brutal. In fact, ice can increase the weight of branches by 30 times (Dolce, 2013). The snow storm is plowing its way east and icing over every surface along the way. Unfortunately for us, December and January are the most common times of year for ice storms to visit, which means the worst may still come.

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Tree damage from an ice storm in Flat Rock, NC

Although we have no control over aggressive weather conditions, there are a few steps you can follow to ensure that your yard trees survive this winter. Read Brianne’s  Your questions about fall planting: answered! to see what you can do for winter tree survival. If this post didn’t reach you in time to prepare for the ice storms spreading across the country, think about donating to our Community Tree Recovery program to help plant trees and restore hope in areas affected by natural disasters.

Interested in learning how trees make it through the winter? Read Michael Snyder’s How do Trees Survive Winter Cold?

 

 

 

The importance of trees to disaster-stricken communities

700_wgiz8u07llhuw3fdmsurbtnjojmecbeb[1]The tornado outbreak that ripped across the Midwest last weekend left thousands of residents with nothing more than shattered homes, trees, rubble — the only souvenir left by the disaster covers the grounds where towns once stood— and, most importantly, hope.

The most recent storm is a reminder that natural disasters will strike anywhere, without an invitation. As a result, it’s vital we’re prepared to protect the areas affected most. The Arbor Day Foundation’s Community Tree Recovery was created out of the great need for trees in the wake of natural disasters, and began by providing tree relief to the Gulf Coast following Hurricane Katrina. Replanting trees after a tragedy helps survivors to look to the future; a reminder to be hopeful. Trees bring beauty, healing, and hope to areas in most need.

tree_tagcloud_1[1]Trees don’t only serve as means of beautification; they play an essential role in environmental sustainability. They help fight climate change by absorbing carbon dioxide and other pollutants from the air. They lower energy costs by providing shade around your home. When planted along streams and wetlands they prevent erosion and clean the water. Trees provide home to surrounding habitat, not to mention the nutritional value their fruits have to offer.  Unfortunately, in the rouse of natural disaster, trees are also the most common casualty. By replanting trees after a tragedy we help to restore a sense of hope to the community and its members.

After the severe tornado damage caused in Joplin, Missouri in the spring of 2011, the Arbor Day Foundation joined forces with the Wildcat Glades Conservation and Audubon Center to distribute 12,000 trees to residents in four Joplin-area locations.

“Trees are part of the long and important history of the people and the land of their state,” said Dan Lambe, Arbor Day Foundation vice president of programs.

As noted earlier, the 2005 Hurricane Katrina disaster is what lead the Arbor Day Foundation to team up with the National Audubon Society and launch the Community Tree Recovery campaign. The campaign has since planted more than 120,000 new trees to residents impacted by the storm.Tree Campus USA

You can help rebuild communities struck by natural disasters by donating to the Community Tree Recovery campaign. This fund allows us to be prepared to provide trees for distribution in communities like Joplin and New Orleans. Remember, trees bring beauty, healing, and hope to areas in most need.

Urban Forestry Plan is Key to Weathering the Storm

Let’s face it: no one likes to think about natural disasters, with their potential for devastation of our homes, neighborhoods, communities, and livelihoods. We’ve shared on this blog before about some of the communities hit hardest in recent years by natural disasters, and told the inspiring stories of citizens returning hope and healing to the places they call home.

Even still, there’s simply no way around it. Natural disasters are a fact of life.

When a natural disaster strikes a community, trees are invariably involved and many

Photo credit: Urban Forest Strike Team.

Photo credit: Urban Forest Strike Team.

times on the losing end of the event. Using the framework of the Arbor Day Foundation’s Tree City USA program, sound urban forestry management has proven essential to loss prevention and recovery of our treasured trees.

The scientific consensus is that climate change is occurring and that, in many cases, it is making natural disasters worse. Any planning to mitigate disasters should also include planning to reduce human-caused acceleration or magnification of climate change.

According to a survey by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, nearly three-quarters of U.S. cities are now seeing environmental shifts that can be linked to climate change. More than 1,000 city leaders have signed the U.S. Conference of Mayors Climate Protection Agreement to strive to meet or exceed Kyoto Protocol targets in their communities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

A healthy canopy of trees plays an important role in this effort. Trees need to be considered a vital part of every city’s infrastructure – right alongside the bridges, roads, sewers, electrical, and telecommunication grids – and appreciated for the natural workhorses that they are. For proof, one need not look further than the great role trees play in taming stormwater runoff during and immediately following natural disasters.

Sound urban forestry management through the framework of the Tree City USA program has been proven to be essential time and again. In fact, green infrastructure is the only part of a city’s infrastructure that actually increases in value and service over time.

Whether for preventative measures or recovery efforts, here are four key ideas your community needs for the best possible outcomes:

  • Communities with an established budget for tree care are in a better position than those that must compete for grants or appropriations. If your community is a recognized TreeCity USA, your community allocates the standard minimum of $2 per capita in a community forestry program.
  • Be prepared with an emergency management plan – and even better if it specifically includes a storm contingency plan. Unfortunately, it’s likely not a matter of IF you’ll need it, but rather WHEN you will.
  • Take time to “get it right” after a disaster. As in most things, it’s far better to move slowly with deliberate, well thought-out decisions and wise judgment than to rush into hasty action. This is particularly important when considering where reconstruction efforts will take place across a community and where trees should be replaced.
  • Lean on the expertise of your local tree board and their extensive list of contacts. These people will be an invaluable resource when it comes time to actually do the work of replanting trees.

For more information on best practices and ways your community can recover from natural disasters, see Tree City USA Bulletin #68.

Donate Now: Plant trees where they’re needed most.

 

Summer storms keep disaster recovery top of mind

Strong storms, tornadoes, and wildfires have rocked communities all across the U.S. this spring and summer, leaving paths of destruction in their wake.

In the past few weeks alone, thousands of acres have burned in Southern California and New Mexico. Oklahoma and Texas each have seen rampant devastation by multiple tornadoes – some bringing the strongest winds ever recorded. And with the 2013 tropical storm season now officially underway, climatologists are predicting more and stronger storms for the coasts this summer. Read more…

Foundation and Texas partners launch campaign to restore Lost Pines Forest destroyed in Bastrop fire

Earlier this morning, we joined key Texas partners in launching the Lost Pines Forest Recovery Campaign, a multi-year public-private partnership to raise money to plant more than 4 million trees on public and private land.

Dan Lambe, the Foundation’s vice president of programs, attended and spoke at today’s event in Bastrop State Park, the nucleus of the September 2011 fire that destroyed more homes than any other in state history and raged through 95 percent of the park’s 6,600 acres.

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and Texas A&M Forest Service are serving as on-the-ground partners in the five-year replanting effort. Both were crucial to making today’s launch happen.

The Lost Pines ecosystem includes more than 75,000 acres of loblolly pines scattered across sections of five Texas counties. It is a precious natural resource for Texans and the state’s visitors, and we’re honored to be a part of restoring it.

The Foundation is taking the lead on fundraising for what is expected to be a $4 million effort. So far, we have secured commitments from Mary Kay, Inc., FedEx, Chili’s Grill and Bar, Nokia and Apache Corporation, and we’re looking forward to adding even more corporate sponsors to the list.

We still need you help to restore the Lost Pines forest to pre-disaster condition. You can donate today at arborday.org/texas.

Carter Smith,Texas Parks and Wildlife Department executive director, summed up the need well when he said “no one entity has the resources to do it all alone, but we’re fortunate that people care deeply about natural treasures like the Lost Pines and Bastrop State Park.”

He added: “Bringing back the trees is an essential step to restore the region’s ecological lifeblood. If we each donate a little, together we can do a great deal.”

Learn more about the Lost Pines Forest Recovery Campaign and make a donation today.

UPDATE: Here is the Foundation’s Dan Lambe (far right) watering longleaf loblolly seedling with other speakers, dignitaries and corporate sponsors in Bastrop State Park this morning. Additional photos are available from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

Left to right: Texas A&M Chancellor John Sharp, Texas State Rep. Tim Kleinschmidt, Carter Smith (Texas Parks and Wildlife), Dan Lambe