Tour Des Trees

Last week, Arbor Day Foundation staff members Pete Smith and Matt Harris rode in the Tour Des Trees bicycle ride through Wisconsin as Team Arbor Day. During the seven day, 585 mile trek, Pete kept a journal recapping the day’s events.

Day 1: Milwaukee to Madison

petematt bikeWith a windy spring and summer in Lincoln, my training has taught me one useful lesson: the ride home is a lot more fun if you begin by heading into the wind.

Today’s 92-mile stage didn’t provide that, since Madison lies directly west of Milwaukee and we stared down a relentless 25-mph headwind for the entire day.

We made a brief stop in Waukesha (a Tree City USA community) for a tree planting ceremony. We concluded our night with dinner and a movie at the University of Wisconsin-Madison arboretum, where we dedicated a tree to the memory of the parents of Wisconsin state forestry coordinator, Dick Rideout.

Day 2: Madison to Wisconsin Dells

group treeAfter a tree dedication at the state capitol, we rode through the UW-Madison campus to trails that led out of town before our first climb up the Blue Mounds. The rocky hills were untouched by the Wisconsin Ice Sheet that ground down most of the surrounding landscape, and posed a steep challenge for our tour riders. Our tour director Paul called this stage the Queen’s Day— homage to the famous tour in France each July, referring to the toughest day on the tour. From the fast decent from Blue Mound State Park, we rolled through bucolic farmland and past wooded hillsides, to the toughest climbs of the day up to and out of Devil’s Lake State Park. Steep, switchback roads that refused to show an end in sight, pulling our modest peloton apart and stretching riders for miles.

But all who wanted to were able to finish the 105 miles of all that Wisconsin has to offer in natural beauty!

Day 3: Wisconsin Dells to Stevens Point

flowersWisconsin has already shown us many of her natural wonders, from bucolic farmland to wooded hills to wind and rain, but today she showed her milder side. We headed north along the Wisconsin River to Stevens Point.

Professor Elwood Pricklethorn’s (aka fellow rider, Warren Hoselton) lunchtime lesson to the children of Nekoosa on the wonders of photosynthesis was a big hit! So was the stop for ice cream near the end of our 87-mile “active recovery” day. We visited the UW-Stevens Point – a Tree Campus USA recognized campus for dinner—which graduates more students in urban forestry than anywhere else. We dedicated a tree to longtime professor Bob Miller with a ceremonial “watering” using Wisconsin’s finest!

Day 4: Stevens Point to Green Bay

giant hambAfter a tree dedication with local scouts, we found our way east along quiet country roads, past country chapels, gently descending all the way to Green Bay on a perfect summer day.

Our 100-mile effort was the fastest of the week so far, with our small group averaging 17 mph–up considerably from the 13 mph efforts of the first two days! Fair and gentle winds, flat terrain and good roads with light traffic made this century a memorable one.

Seymour, WI, claims to be the home of the first hamburger, memorialized in large form just at the edge of town. And as a nightcap, we toured the not-so-frozen tundra of Lambeau Field.  And if the bus shows up to take us back to the hotel, I may even get some sleep tonight!

Day 5: Green Bay to Sturgeon Bay

911 tree plantingToday’s weather brought back memories of the day we left DC in 2001 after the National Urban Forestry Conference, only to be followed a couple days later by the tragedy of 9/11. The urban forestry community lost one of our own that day, Christine Snyder, who boarded Flight 93 and perished in a field in Pennsylvania. Joined by the city forester and mayor, we planted a tree at Tree City USA community Green Bay’s 9/11 memorial to honor all those we lost that day, a sapling grown from one of the only trees to emerge from the rubble of the twin towers at Ground Zero–a flowering pear tree.

A short recovery ride for most, a paltry 60 miles to the hotel.

But a hardy few of us took the scenic “bonus miles” tour of Door County to peek out along the shores of Lake Michigan, an additional 27 miles!

Day 6: Sturgeon Bay to Port Washington

lakeThere was a great deal of anticipation for today’s ride south, partly because it’s almost the end of the tour, but mostly because our legs are tired and the stage was 120 miles long.

Many riders left early to avoid being taken off the road at 5pm— myself included—watching the hazy sun rise above the glass-smooth surface of Sturgeon Bay. With Lake Michigan on our left the entire day, mostly clear skies and light winds, our progress was hampered only by our appetites–amply satisfied at each rest stop!

I want to pause to recognize the great work of Dick Rideout, the state urban forestry coordinator for the Wisconsin DNR. Dick has made the Tree City USA program the bedrock for community forestry in his state, and we witnessed his guiding hand as we rolled through dozens of Tree City USA communities along our tour. We heard mayors sing the praises of their city forester, in Madison, Stevens Point and Green Bay. They know what trees mean to their community and the importance of the TREE Fund. We riders are proud to represent the professions of arboriculture and urban forestry at the many events we conduct along our route.

Day 7: Port Washington to Milwaukee

group challengeOur final day is as much pomp-and-circumstance as it is a bike ride, just a short 42-mile “noodle” through leafy lakeside suburbs, staging at several spots to keep the 80+ riders together for the mass roll-in at the International Tree Climbing Championships being held at Mount Mary University. We had time for group photos of the various teams, as well as those sponsored by the various ISA chapters. We can be grateful for having the strength of mind and legs to pedal through more than 600 miles on behalf of the TREE Fund. As donors, you helped all of us raise more than $513,000 to support tree research and education projects around the country!

We can bask in the glory of rolling into the climbing championships to the cheers and applause of the real athletes of the day–those climbing arborists who work daily to care for our urban trees. This is the joy we share with one another, brought together by the love of trees and riding bicycles.

Epilogue

It seems like eons ago we left Milwaukee headed west. Time and miles melt away, leaving us with precious memories…and friends, both new and old. This was my third consecutive tour and I think I’m finally getting the hang of it. I could tell when I filled out the informal awards ballot on Thursday night and knew who the “Most Improved Rider” (Laurie Skul) and the “Best New Rider” (Karen Jenkins) were. I think I could recite Professor Pricklethorn’s tree blessing in my sleep! These are my friends. Now and forever. I am indebted to them–and to you, dear sponsor for your support–and I offer my hand and a hug to you all…. Until next year, and the Sunshine State, I remain… Your friend in trees, Pete

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.

silvaCell2[1]

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?

photo 4

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?

Faces in Forestry

Bob Roney:  Park Ranger, Master Naturalist, and lifelong steward of the land

Bob Roney has worked in Yosemite National Park for parts of six decades. The park enthralls him as much today as when he first set foot there in 1967.bob roney

“It’s like falling in love really,” he says. “You know when you first meet somebody and you just want to learn everything you can about them — it’s been that way for me for forty years.”

Learn more about Bob’s work and love for Yosemite:

• Visit Ranger Bob’s Facebook page to see stunning nature photography of Yosemite

• Listen to this NPR story to hear an interview with Bob and his Yosemite sound recordings

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.

Trees, Water and Sustainability

loch katrine trossachs national park

Loch Katrine— nestled on The Trossachs National Park in Scotland— depends on surrounding trees for Glasgow’s clean water supply.

When we think of forests, we think of trees, the wonders of nature, of sheer beauty, and clean, fresh air. We often don’t think about the water we drink.

We should.

More than 180 million Americans, 56 percent of the U.S. population, have abundant, healthy drinking water thanks to forests.

Forests help snow melt and rain water soak into the soil to replenish rivers and streams during dry times. Trees stop silt from eroding into our waterways. They serve as natural filters to clean sparkling mountain streams, healthy lakes and reservoirs, and our nation’s vast web of rivers.

Why is that important to us? As U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said, “While most Americans live in urban areas, most of us depend on rural lands, particularly forest lands, for clean water and a healthy climate.”

One example is New York City. In the late 1990s, city leaders balked at a $6 billion water treatment system and instead opted for natural forest management to clean the water it receives from the Catskill/Delaware watershed in upstate New York. The focus is on creating conservation easements along streams and reservoirs, and protecting forest lands to keep sediment and runoff from entering the water supply. The watershed provides New Yorkers with more than 1 billion gallons each day of some of the cleanest, healthiest drinking water in the world.

Millions of Californians rely on crystal-clear water flowing from the San Bernardino National Forest and other California forests to quench their thirst.

In Colorado, the South Platte watershed, which rises high in the Pike National Forest, supplies Denver with drinking water.

In Scotland, trees in The Trossachs National Park protect nearby Loch Katrine, which provides Glasgow its water supply. These are just a few examples of how our dependence on clean water also depends on healthy forests.

One way of keeping our forests healthy is to plant trees.

Klamath National Forest-California – After a fire, tree-planting crews are often in a race against time to plant new native trees.

The need to replant our forests is vitally important because of damage from insects, disease and unprecedented wildfires. Every year, new areas in critical need of replanting are identified – places where fires burn so hot that the seeds of future forests are destroyed.While we don’t know where the critical needs will be 10 years from now, or 40 years from now, we do know that our forests will continue to need our help, and that trees will be planted wherever they will best serve people, our environment, and water resources for generations to come.

There is no substitute for clean water. Water is a vital resource that we rely on every day. We can’t create something else to take its place.

But we can plant trees.

The next time you turn on the tap, remember the role trees play in keeping our drinking water clean and safe. And when we next think of forests, we’ll think of majestic beauty, clean air, habitat for wildlife…and healthy, abundant water for this and future generations.

 

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.

Iron_Chlorosis576[1]

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