Class of 2014 TreeStewards Graduate

 

2014 Class graduates at Wakefield High School, scene of earlier pruning work day.

2014 Class graduates at Wakefield High School, scene of earlier pruning work day.

Training accomplished, final exams passed, the twenty-one members of TreeStewards Class of 2014 celebrated their graduation with former graduates and current volunteers.  Alexandria City Arborist John Noelle spoke on how useful volunteers are in maintaining our tree canopy; and he proposed a new project to examine the outcomes of city tree plantings which enthused many.

Alexandria City Arborist John Noelle thanked TreeStewards for their volunteer work and proposed new projects.

Alexandria City Arborist John Noelle thanked TreeStewards for their volunteer work and proposed new projects.

Upon receiving their certificates, all described their next volunteer project: coordinating neighborhood Tree Canopy Fund, working at information tables at Farmers Markets, assisting at upcoming Parkfairfax native plant sale, taking on restoration of trees at Timber Branch Parkway, serving on tree commissions and designing sculptures of good tree care for presentations.  Another crop of inspiring and dedicated volunteers joins the cause!

Posted in Community Service, Events | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Prevention through Education: The Home Show Strategy

The map showing tree canopy percentage was a big draw.

The map showing tree canopy percentage was a big draw.

Too often the first inkling of construction in our neighborhoods is the day the trees come down — but could this be prevented by education to the construction companies and residents planning to remodel or build a new house?

TreeStewards and the Arlington County Urban Forestry Commission tested this theory on March 8, 2014 at the Arlington Home Show. The information booth featured a large map divided into civic association areas with the tree canopy percentage shown for each so residents could compare theirs to the county average of 41%, and a sign advertising the Tree Canopy Fund.  The response was great! Over 150 individuals had conversations with those staffing the booth and many more picked up tree care materials.  We answered questions on best time to plant trees, how to select an arborist, and especially ways to prevent tree damage during construction.

Outreach to other exhibitors was also accomplished by TreeSteward John Wingard who visited vendors who often impact trees: landscapers, hardscape designers, deck builders, addition builders, remodelers and realty companies.  The brochures Avoiding Tree Damage During Construction and Treatment of Trees Damaged by Construction were provided. Builders who did larger projects of multiple houses were also engaged in a discussion of county permitting procedures that might provide flexibility in preserving trees and contacts were made for future discussions.

Finding ways to preserve trees in the midst of a building boom is challenging but necessary. We don’t know the final impact of our education at the Home Show, but we successfully reached an audience that does have ongoing impacts on trees.

If you’d like to join the small group studying ways to reform permitting and zoning, plant a seed in our comment box farther down to the right.

Posted in Advocacy, Community Service, Events | Tagged ,

Shark Attack Fears and Tree Survival

SharksDid you know that people at the beach are more worried about a Shark Attack than they are about a car accident during the long drive to and from the beach?  Guess which has a higher probability?

We learned that fact last week at the Urban Forestry Roundtable on “Disaster Planning, Response and Recovery.” Trees are a valuable community asset, but when weather strikes they can become a problem. Turns out the best way to prevent such problems is our favorite mantra: Plant the Right Tree in the Right Place.  Ensuring large trees won’t be halved by utility companies because they grow into wires, or squeezed between a house and driveway with no root space avoids the problem twenty years later.

Thousands of trees didn't come down in the storm! won't make the news headline.

Thousands of trees didn’t come down in the storm! won’t make the news headline.

So what does this have to do with Sharks?  After Hurricane Isabel, Derrecho, Snowmaggedon, and many more storms, people react through fear.  One tree comes down on a neighbor’s house — but they don’t notice the 1,000 other trees that did not lose a single limb. Many people’s gut reaction is to have the tree taken down by those who go door to door offering their services, rather than contacting certified arborists to maintain the tree in a preventive manner.

So let’s be proactive and provide education on tree maintenance and direct our neighbors to qualified tree services.  (See post below)http://treestewards.org/2012/08/24/how-to-select-an-arborist-or-tree-service-company/

Posted in Education, Tree Care | Tagged , ,

Making a Difference in 2013: 4,000 Trees and 5,000 People

The numbers have been crunched from our on-line reporting system and 64 TreeSteward members reported 3300+ service hours in calendar year 2013. More importantly, we provided education over 5,000 times and worked directly with trees 4,000 times. For statisticians reading this, that’s duplicated counts in that one TreeSteward may have watered the same 10 trees 4 times throughout the late summer drought (trees want duplicated watering!).

TreeStewards Educate People about Trees
We provided tree care information to residents at the Parkfairfax Native Plant Sale, Alexandria Earth Day, Farmers’ Markets at Courthouse, Westover, Falls Church,Del Ray. Tree Stewards provided individual education to more than 400 families who “adopted” tree whips at the fall Tree Distribution Program. TreeStewards participated in Arlington County’s Notable Tree Program with the result that 17 new specimen trees received recognition by the County Board. Neighborhood participation by TreeStewards resulted in six being put on their HOA Boards or greens committee, others wrote articles for community newsletters, and coordinated for the Tree Canopy Fund.

Poster with children viewing

TreeStewards enjoy providing education at community events.


Presence in Cyberspace
Over 12,000 Visitors had 25,236 Views to this website with information on tree care and advocacy for trees. “Take Ivy off Trees” had 900 viewers and groups from around the nation requested permission to use materials or link to our site.

Tree Planting and Maintenance
In Alexandria, Alliance for Community Trees and TD Bank partnered with us to plant 30 trees at Tarleton Park and provided funding to purchase equipment for ongoing projects. Watering of the trees is funded for two summers as well. Casey Trees partnered with us to plant another 25 trees at Four Mile Run Park.

TD Bank employees and TreeStewards planted 30 trees at Tarleton Park on October 15, 2013

TD Bank employees and TreeStewards planted 30 trees at Tarleton Park on October 15, 2013


In Falls Church, TreeSteward members assisted at three weekends of tree planting. In Arlington, twelve members worked through the Arlington Tree Canopy Fund and assisted homeowners and associations in selecting the Right Tree for the Right Place for 400 trees. Habitat restoration by removing invasive plants and planting natives was a core volunteer effort that occurred in each jurisdiction.

Standing Up for Trees
TreeStewards serve on Urban Forestry Commission in Arlington and Tree Commission in Falls Church to advise local governments on tree related issues. A tree census was conducted of forested land beside the W&OD Trail in an effort to preserve the 170 native trees present, with the results circulated at public meetings. Meetings were held with VDOT officials to increase the use of native trees along roadways.

The Learning Never Stops
TreeStewards increased their knowledge through participation at the Quarterly Urban Forestry Roundtables on urban watersheds and tree production, pruning practicum with Arlington County staff, a tree walk at the US Capitol with Alexandria arborist, and tree root exploration with Falls Church arborist. This year Casey Trees kindly invited us to their trainings.

Casey Trees included us in their pruning workshop taught by Barry Stohl, NPS.

Casey Trees included us in their pruning workshop taught by Barry Stohl, NPS.

And now we are training 21 new members to increase our presence in 2014!

Posted in Community Service, Events, Uncategorized | Tagged ,

Another Tree Benefit: Good Cell Reception

While hiking in a nearby National Park, I came upon the specimen shown to the right, which was unlike any other tree in this oak/hickory forest.

Note the unusual evergreen branches in this hardwood forest.

Note the unusual evergreen branches in this hardwood forest.


I pulled out my trusty Smartphone App Guide to Trees of North America and started searching. Hmm, the trunk was a dark brown metallic looking color and smooth with no branches until 60 feet in the air. I could see this was an evergreen species with alternate compound leaves. Although the specimen was behind a locked fence, there were bumps all around the base sort of like the knees one sees on some Cyprus trees, although these circular ones resembled nuts and bolts.
The final tip came when I realized how strong reception was on the cell phone. This was most likely Sequoidendrum cellamturrim which has been discretely “planted” along interstates, golf courses, and alongside buildings. Like all non-native trees, we’ll have to be sure it doesn’t become invasive in the future.

Posted in Education | Tagged , | 1 Comment

To Preserve Forested Land, Count the Trees

Forested intersection

County owned parcel of forested land at eastern corner of Walter Reed Dr. and the W&OD Trail

This forested parcel of land owned by Arlington County is being considered for relocation of the Phoenix Bikes Program and so it was inventoried by members of the Arlington Regional Master Naturalists and TreeStewards to determine the benefits from the trees and impact of tree loss if a building replaced the trees. The wooded parcel of land (about an acre) is located along the Washington and Old Dominion Trail (W&OD Trail) at the intersection of South Four Mile Run Drive and Walter Reed Drive (eastern side of intersection).

A tree inventory is an important scientific, technical, and educational tool. Fieldwork for this tree inventory was initiated December 27, 2013, and completed December 31, 2013. This tree inventory identified the species and diameter of each tree 2 inches or greater in diameter. Tree diameter is usually measured at 4.5 feet (137 cm) above ground level. Measurement at this height is referred to as diameter at breast height or DBH. The volunteer team measured over 200 trees with a DBH of 2 inches or greater. The results show that this parcel of land contains:

• Over 170 trees that are native tree species.
• High species diversity with almost 30 different tree species including: American elm, ash (white and green), black gum, black locust, eastern red cedar, northern red oak, pin oak, red maple, scarlet oak, southern red oak, sweet gum, sycamore, and black cherry.
• More than 120 trees with DBH’s greater than 6 inches.
• Five trees of impressive size and shape: three native oaks, one native ash, and one native sweetgum between 30 and 40 inches DBH.

Need to measureAlthough the footprint of the building and parking lot is undecided, over 70 trees could be lost, and clearing this land would endanger the health and stability of trees in the adjacent uncleared woodland. Estimates derived from the Tree Benefits Calculator indicate that Arlington County would lose the ability to collect almost 68,000 gallons of stormwater along with mitigation of air, noise, and visual pollution and urban cooling effect if these trees were removed

The outer rim of invasive vines on this site hides a forest community that reminds naturalists of the resilience of nature despite all circumstances. During the tree survey, our team spent time watching birds and hawks, guessing what was burrowing under decaying logs, imagining the array of spring wildflowers set to pop out this spring, and forecasting the bouquet of brilliant fall color the diverse species boast. Despite this parcel’s small size, it hosts an intact forest ecosystem that is remarkably beautiful and vibrant; it is an urban gem.

More than Sweetgums (Liquidambar styraciflua) were counted, an unusual number for Arlington.

More than 30 Sweetgums (Liquidambar styraciflua) were counted, an unusual number for Arlington.

Performing a tree census is generally the best first step for advocates. Now that volunteers have provided detailed information on what would be lost due to development, other citizens and organizations can use it when making their views known to the Arlington County Board.
For additional information on how a tree inventory is conducted, leave a comment. Remember, we value what we can count.

Posted in Advocacy, Community Service, Education

Return of the Mighty Elm

Barry Stahl, who is responsible for growing American elms for the National Park Service, here instructs TreeStewards and other citizen volunteers on the best way to prune trees to insure good structure and health. These American elms have been grown from seed at a nursery along the Potomac River and are part of an effort to boost on the National Mall the number of native elms, whose numbers were decimated after Dutch Elm disease spread rapidly across the country in the mid-20th century.

On Jan. 11 Barry Stahl, who runs a nursery of American elms for the National Park Service, here uses one of the elms to demonstrate to Tree Stewards and other citizen volunteers  the best way to prune trees to insure good structure and health. These American elms have been grown from seed at the nursery along the Potomac River and are part of an effort to boost on the National Mall the number of native elms, whose numbers were decimated after Dutch Elm disease spread rapidly across the country in the mid-20th century.

 

Posted in Uncategorized