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

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?

Arbor Day Award Winner Highlights: Award for Education Innovation

Each year the Arbor Day Foundation recognizes outstanding individuals, environmental leaders, and innovative organizations for their sustainable conservation efforts on an international, national, state and community level through the Arbor Day Awards Program. The 2014 Arbor Day Awards were presented April 26 at the Lied Lodge and Conference Center in Nebraska City. During May we’ll highlight the award winners.

Award for Education Innovation—Delaware Center for Horticulture:

The Award for Education Innovation recognizes innovative education programs that successfully introduce and teach their audience the importance of trees and serve as an inspiration for future environmental stewards.

DSC_0124

Jen Bruhler of the Delaware Center for Horticulture plants a tree at Arbor Lodge State Historical Park. Photo by Carrie Benes.

The Delaware Center for Horticulture believed that combining job training with tree planting helps not only individuals, but the community at large. That philosophy lead to the launch of the Return to Work Green Jobs Program in 2009. What started as an education program to employ ex-offenders to plant trees has now grown to become a meaningful life changing model, transforming both lives and communities.Since its inception, dozens of men and women have received classroom and field training focusing on urban forestry, urban agriculture and public landscapes and have been gainfully employed.

A recent program graduate shared:

“Coming from prison, to working with trees, to be honest with you… trees saved my life. I’ve seen the other side, and it was very rewarding to have the opportunity to work with the staff at the Delaware Center for Horticulture.  The staff there gave me a new view not just on trees, but also on people.  This program gave me the tools to work in my neighborhood, and finding out about these different lifestyles gave me the vision to want to do something better with my life.”

The Return to Work Green program demonstrates firsthand the lasting impact a tree planting can have in restoring hope where it is needed most.

Are you aware of an outstanding individual or organization that is an exemplary steward of our Earth?  If so, please consider nominating them for our 2015 Arbor Day Awards.

Arbor Day Award Winner Highlights: Public Awareness of Trees Award

Each year the Arbor Day Foundation recognizes outstanding individuals, environmental leaders, and innovative organizations for their sustainable conservation efforts on an international, national, state and community level through the Arbor Day Awards Program. The 2014 Arbor Day Awards were presented April 26 at the Lied Lodge and Conference Center in Nebraska City. During May we’ll highlight the award winners.

Public Awareness of Trees Award—American Chestnut Foundation:

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Bryan Burhans from the American Chestnut Foundation plants a tree at Arbor Lodge State Historical Park. Photo by Carrie Benes.

The Public Awareness of Trees award is presented to an organization or individual whose innovative work elevates the public awareness and understanding of the importance of trees.

The American Chestnut tree comprised more than 200 million acres of eastern woodlands up until the first half of the 20th century when the chestnut blight infested the region, affecting one-fourth of the hardwood tree population. The mission of the American Chestnut Foundation is to restore this tree to our eastern woodlands to benefit our environment, our wildlife and our communities.

The return of the chestnut to its former role in the Appalachian hardwood forest ecosystem is a major restoration project that requires a multi-faceted effort involving extensive public engagement.

The foundation has two major public awareness initiatives: the American Chestnut Learning Box—an educational tool that brings the story of the chestnut to classrooms, nature canters and civic groups—and The Charlie Chestnut Environmental Education Program—curriculum designed to inspire students to learn more about the environment and American chestnuts. With 16 state chapters and more than 5,000 members, the American Chestnut Foundation is better able to generate public awareness toward the campaign.

Are you aware of an outstanding individual or organization that is an exemplary steward of our Earth?  If so, please consider nominating them for our 2015 Arbor Day Awards.