A Champion Falls

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Training Syllabus 2018-19

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Branching Out, Fall 2018

Following are events of interest to Tree Stewards and other tree lovers. Outdoor events are weather permitting.

Webinar: Construction Damage, Severe Storms, and Tree Failure Analysis
Wednesday, Sept. 12, 1-2:15 p.m.
U.S. Forest Service’s Urban Forest Connections
Free. Connect here.
Understanding how and why trees fail can help improve how urban forests are designed and how best to manage the risks.

How Native Plants Support Wildlife
Wednesday, Sept. 12, 7:30-9 p.m.
Norma Hoffman Visitor Center, 3701 Lockheed Blvd., Alexandria 22306
Free. Sponsored by Friends of Dyke Marsh, Plant NOVA Natives, the Northern Virginia Bird Club, and Potowmack Chapter of the Virginia Native Plant Society.
How residential landscapes influence biodiversity is the focus of research and a talk by Dr. Desiree Narango. She has studied how well native and non-native trees provide food for Carolina chickadees.

Alexandria Park Maintenance and Projects Meeting
Thursday, Sept. 13, 6:30-8 p.m.
Alexandria Police Department Community Room, 3600 Wheeler Ave., Alexandria
Alexandria’s Department of Recreation, Parks & Cultural Activities will provide updates on park maintenance and planned capital improvement projects, discuss the managed meadow and conservation area, and take input on the use of developer contributions for Armistead Boothe, Ben Brenman, and Cameron Station linear parks. Ben Brenman Park was the site of two Tree Steward planting events this spring.

TreesVirginia Workshop Postponed
Friday, Sept. 14, 8 a.m.-4 p.m.
Best Western Inn and Conference Center, Waynesboro
Because of the threat of inclement weather, the workshop has been postponed.
Be sure to cancel your lodging reservation. The Best Western number is 540.942.1100.

Saturday, Sept. 15, 7:30 a.m.-8:30 p.m.
Glencarlyn Park Picnic Pavilion 1, 401 S. Harrison St., Arlington 22204
Use your tree knowledge as a citizen scientist by joining expert and amateur naturalists to inventory plants, wildlife, or other living things using the free app iNaturalist. Information collected will help the county update its Natural Resources Management Plan. Click on Sign-up Genius to pick your event and time. Questions? NaturalResources@arlingtonva.us

Four Mile Run Conservatory Kayak Cleanups
Saturday, Sept. 15, 9 a.m.-noon
Thursday, Sept. 20, 5-7:30 p.m.
Sunday, Sept. 30, 9 a.m.-noon
Monday, Oct. 8 (Columbus Day), 9 a.m.-noon
Saturday, Oct. 27, 9 a.m.-noon
Free. Register here.
Five opportunities to collect litter along the southern stretch of Four Mile Run, helping wildlife and the Chesapeake Bay.

4MR Native Ecosystem Restoration
Sunday, Sept. 23, 9-11:30 a.m.
4109 Mt Vernon Ave, Alexandria 22305
Free. Register here.
Naturalist Rod Simmons and ecologist Kurt Moser lead a walk sponsored by the Potowmack Chapter of the Virginia Native Plant Society to view the award-winning wetland restoration by the Four Mile Run Conservatory Foundation. There will be a non-native weed pull after the walk—bring a lunch and water, and help with the change for the better along Four Mile Run.

Memorial Arboretum Walking Tour
Arlington National Cemetery
Fridays, Sept. 28, Oct. 19, and Nov. 2, 9-11:30 a.m.
Free. Meet at Welcome Center Information Desk.
View more than 300 species of trees and learn about the cemetery’s Level III Accredited Arboretum.

Geology of Scott’s Run

Sunday, Sept. 30, 8:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.

Leader: Joe Marx

Audubon Naturalist Society (ANS) members $26; nonmembers $36

Scotts Run Nature preserve is a 336-acre tract of Virginia woods, ravines and palisades just upstream from the American Legion Bridge. The landscape varies from rolling upland and a narrow stream valley to rocky cliffs and riverine floodplain. The bedrock was formed in an ocean that was extinguished during the assembly of the super-continent Pangea.  One clearly visible landform in essentially a stretch mark attendant to the opening of the Atlantic. We will hike a circuit of two miles on unpaved trails that will occasionally be rocky and steep as we observe both rocks and forest.  The pace set and distance covered on our geology hikes will be faster and farther than our usual “naturalists’ shuffle.” There will also be two stream crossings on concrete “cobbles.”

TreeStewards Training Begins
Tuesday, Oct. 2, 7-8:30 p.m.
Fairlington Community Center, 3308 S. Stafford St., Arlington 22206
A new group of Arlington and Alexandria residents will be introduced to the many volunteer opportunities offered by becoming a Tree Steward. Syllabus.

Historical Geography Walk
Sunday, Oct. 7, 10-11:30 a.m.
4109 Mt Vernon Ave, Alexandria 22305
Learn about the historical geography of lower Four Mile Run on this 1.7-mile walk.

Mid-Atlantic Chapter, ISA, Annual Meeting
Monday and Tuesday, Oct. 8 and 9
Clarion Inn Frederick Event Center, 5400 Holiday Dr., Frederick, MD
Fees increase after Sept. 14. Register here.
Field events occur Monday, indoor presentations Tuesday at this meeting of the local chapter of the International Society of Arborists.

Intro to Tree Identification
Friday, Oct. 12, 10 a.m.-3 p.m.
Leader: Stephanie Mason
ANS members $34, nonmembers $48
Fall is a great time to learn to identify trees and shrubs. With brilliant leaves highlighting the twigs, new buds already formed, and many fruits hanging on, there are lots of distinguishing features that help sort out the various species. This program at Woodend Sanctuary will begin indoors with a look at some techniques of tree identification, coupled with practice using a simple key. Outdoors use your new skills to identify many of the trees growing on the grounds. Both beginners and those who want to brush up on their ID skills are welcome.

Free Tree Distributions
Saturday, Oct. 20, 8 a.m.-4 p.m.
Arlington County Nursery, 4240 S. Four Mile Run Dr., Arlington 22206
Wed., Oct. 24, 3–6 p.m.
Bon Air Memorial Rose Garden Parking Lot, 850 N. Lexington St., Arlington 22205
Tree Steward volunteers are needed to help Arlington residents select one of 400 free tree whips for planting in their yards to help expand and enhance the county’s urban tree canopy.

Fall Fungus Walk
Sunday, Oct. 21, 2-4:30 p.m.
Leader: Tovi Lehmann
ANS Members $24; nonmembers $34
Fall is a great time to learn to ID some of the most common families of fungi and their role in the ecosystem. At a local natural area, explore the natural history of your fungal neighbors. Note: this outing will focus on natural history of fungi species, not their edibility.

Window into the World of Fungi
Thursday, Nov. 1, 7-9:30 p.m.
Leader: Tovi Lehmann
Free, but registration required.
Rooted, yet not plants, heterotrophs, but not animals (growing in fairy rings, yet not even fairies), fungi are members of another kingdom. Mostly hidden under the surface, fungi have evolved their own solutions to life’s persistent problems. Gaining the recognition for their pivotal role in shaping the living world, they now reshape fundamental perceptions of biologists. In this lecture at the ANS Woodend Sanctuary, explore the natural history and ecology of local fungi neighbors. Edibility is not featured. REGISTER ONLINE.

A Year in Rock Creek Park
Fall Nature Hike in Rock Creek Park
Saturday, Nov. 3, 9:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m.
ANS members $34; nonmembers $42
Melanie Choukas-Bradley, author of the award-winning book, A Year in Rock Creek Park and the critically acclaimed, City of Trees, will offer her twelfth year of popular nature walks for ANS in the country’s oldest urban national park, created in 1890.  Hike the Western Ridge and Valley Trails during peak fall foliage and fruiting season. The hike will traverse 4-6 miles, with uphill and downhill on natural surface trails which may be rocky and uneven

A Year at Theodore Roosevelt Island
Autumn Tree Walk on Theodore Roosevelt Island
Wednesday, Nov. 7, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.

Late Autumn Tree Walk on Theodore Roosevelt Island
Wednesday, Dec. 5, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
Each walk: ANS members $28; nonmembers $38
Join Melanie Choukas-Bradley, author of A Year in Rock Creek Park and City of Trees, for a year-long exploration of Theodore Roosevelt Island, a 90-acre island in the Potomac that serves as a fitting memorial to our conservationist and naturalist 26th  president—and Audubon Naturalist Society member. The fall tree walks will take you deep into the swamp and tidal inlet along the boardwalk where willows, bald-cypresses and cattails frame views of the city behind it

Fall Leaf Drawing Workshop

Monday, Nov. 12, 10 a.m.-3 p.m.

Leader: Tina Thieme Brown

ANS members $32; nonmembers $44

There is a long tradition of naturalists keeping field notes, often accompanied by drawings. Learn how to add sketches to your field observations at a workshop at Woodend Sanctuary. Tina will lead you on a walk in the woods, where you will carry along your sketchbook and reflect on the changing season. Returning to an indoor classroom, she will guide you through the steps to create a drawing of fall leaves and acorns. The only experience required is a love of nature, and a desire to look closely at the seasonal changes in native trees. A suggested art supply list will be provided with confirmation letter.

Trees Matter Symposium
Wednesday, Nov. 14, 8 a.m.-3 p.m.
Silver Spring Civic Center, Silver Spring, MD
Fee and registration (not yet open) required through Montgomery Parks
Experts on urban forestry discuss innovative efforts to plant, protect, and preserve trees in urban and suburban settings.

Hawks at Four Mile Run
Sunday, Nov. 18, 10-11 a.m.
4109 Mt Vernon Ave, Alexandria 22305
Look for migrating hawks and other wild residents of the natural areas of the park. Binoculars and field guides optional.

Geology at Long Branch
Saturday, Dec. 1, 1- 4 p.m.
Inclement weather date: Sunday, Dec. 9
Leader: Joe Marx
ANS members $26; nonmembers $36
Arlington’s Long Branch Nature Center occupies a picturesque spot overlooking a short, misnamed tributary of Four Mile Run, itself a tributary of the Potomac. Hike a mile or so out–and a mile back–down Long Branch and Four Mile Run, returning by the same route. A variety of rock units are exposed along the trail, including an undersea landslide frozen in time, long-vanished seaside flats, and the bottom layer of the coastal plain. To add botanical icing to our geological cake, we will traverse an old-growth upland forest and a quicker-changing floodplain forest. The paved route is entirely on level to gently inclined park trails.

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Get a Free Tree

Dad snaps on bike helmet with tree in box and girls in trailer.

Dad prepares to bike home with the free tree the girls chose.

Mature trees are grand, but they were all young once. There’s no better time than this fall to plant a free tree on your property and watch it mature. Arlington’s Annual Free Tree Distribution program is open for the asking.  The County will give you one free tree per residential property. Here’s a list of available trees. Register now and then pick up your tree (and get help and advice from TreeStewards) on Oct. 20 and 24. Learn more here.

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Mature Tree Slide Deck in PDF

Mature Tree Slide Deck in PDF

Treetop and trunk.

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Limbing Up, Tying Up at the Casey Trees Farm

Three Tree Stewards of Arlington and Alexandria were among 10 volunteers who staked and pruned 1,000 saplings at the Casey Trees Farm near Berryville, Va., on June 30th.

Tree Stewards Jo Allen, Kate Donohue and Don Walsh snipped lower limb s from saplings at the Casey Trees Farm.

Tree Stewards Jo Allen, Kate Donohue and Don Walsh snipped lower limbs from saplings at the Casey Trees Farm with other volunteers. Photos: Casey Trees

The pruning was not the usual structural pruning that Tree Stewards perform on young trees to help them grow big and strong. The saplings at the 750-acre farm were two and three years old and needed to have their small, lower limbs removed so they would develop more robust canopy. As farm manager Todd Woodfield explained, “These are not pruning cuts you have to think about or agonize over. Just prune the trunks up about two feet.”

After completing pruning of several long rows of saplings, volunteers trekked to another field on the rolling farmland to limb up slightly older saplings and then began tying the leaders of each tree securely to tall stakes so that the trunk would grow straight and tall.

Todd Woodfield, right, demonstrates how to tie a tree's leader to a stake.

Casey Trees Farm manager Todd Woodfield, right, demonstrates how to tie a tree’s leader to a stake.

Once the trees reach planting size in a few years, they will be dug up in their root bags and transported to the District of Columbia to help replenish the urban forest. Woodfield said the farm’s goal is to eventually raise enough trees to supply the needs of the District, Casey Trees and, if possible, other non-profit urban reforestation projects on the East Coast.

Volunteers secure saplings to stakes so the trunks will grow straight.

Volunteers secure saplings to stakes so the trunks will grow straight.

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How to Select an Arborist or Tree Service Company

If you need a ladder, you need an arborist.

As Tree Stewards say: If you need a ladder, you need an arborist!

While Tree Stewards do not recommend specific companies, we do provide advice for selecting a good service. Above all, we recommend contacting a certified arborist working with a bonded and insured tree company. You could ask for recommendations from neighborhood list serves only, but not all tree services employ professional arborists or have the bonding you want. You want a certified arborist caring for your trees the same way you want a licensed veterinarian caring for your pet. Here is a step-by-step for selecting and contracting with an arborist:

(1) GoodTreeCare.com is the listing of the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) certified arborist for our region. You click on Accept and are given a choice of states and counties. You can choose either Arlington or Fairfax county since only counties are listed (sorry Alexandria) and up will come more than 50 names of arborists along with the services they provide as well as each one’s advanced trainings. You’ll note most arborists are employed by tree service companies, and they will list services such as pruning, health care, cabling, etc. Others only provide consultation services of assessment, expert witness, pre-construction, etc., and will refer you to other tree service companies for the actual work.  You can find local consulting arborists at Consulting arborists

Select several and call or email describing your need. You want to select an arborist who has experience in your area of need, whether it is construction issues, risk appraisal or getting a healthy tree check-up. Do ask about fees over the phone. A consulting arborist charges for her/his time coming to assess your tree while many tree service arborists do not charge for an initial visit and provide a quote on future work to pay for their time. If you are concerned as to whether your large tree is a risk, but you really don’t want to lose it, then you might feel more comfortable with the advice from a consulting arborist who has no economic interest in promoting additional services.

(2) Schedule meetings in your yard with at least two or more certified arborists the same way you’d ask more than one remodeler to view your home. Certified arborists carry their license on their person, so don’t hesitate to ask to see it. Ask if a certified arborist will be supervising the actual work, and if not, inquire about the training and experience of the work foreman. Use that knowledge as a factor in your decision. If there is a significant difference in suggested treatment of the trees, ask for explanations. Just like physicians, arborists may approach a problem with different strategies but each should be able to explain the rationale. If you do internet research on the recommended services, Tree Stewards recommend using only sites from University Extension Services (ending in “.edu”) or from governmental forestry websites (ending in “.gov”)

Climbers must practice safety first.

Be sure the tree service you use requires tree climbers to practice safety first. Climbers need to be adequately roped to prevent falls.

(3) Reach an agreement on the scope of the work to be performed, obtain a written estimate and ask for proof of insurance. Working on large trees has risks, for the worker high up and any targets on the ground so be sure the company has trained workers, uses safety equipement and carries adequate liability insurance. Ask for referrals and take time to follow-up and make the calls. Always get a second opinion.

(4) When you have selected a tree service, try to schedule the work when you are home and available to meet with the crew prior to the start of the work. Talk with the arborist or the crew chief or foreman who will supervise the work. Be sure to review the scope of the job with the foreman to ensure there are no misunderstandings. If anything concerns you, insist on speaking with the certified arborist who estimated the job.

You want the best service for your trees, and reputable firms do not want dissatisfied customers. Communicate often and well with the company and give it a chance to make corrections if you are not satisfied with the work.

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Champion Dawn Redwood Threatened

In an effort to preserve a unique, mature tree in Arlington, the Williamsburg Civic Association and Arlington Tree Action Group have asked the County Board and county staff to not let the Commonwealth’s Champion Dawn redwood be removed by a builder who intends to subdivide a large lot, tear down the existing house, and build two new six-bedroom houses.

The one-of-a-kind tree species was thought to be extinct until it was found growing in China. It was imported in 1948 and proved a fast-grower with feathery needles it sheds in the fall. Read the civic association’s letter, which notes the tree’s large size and location in the Resource Protection Area (RPA) of a nearby stream.

Arlington’s Urban Forestry Commission joined the debate with a July 6 letter urging the County Board to direct the county manager “to pursue all possible alternatives to protect this magnificent tree and the RPA.”

Some local jurisdictions, such as the District of Columbia, have strong tree-preservation ordinances and impose significant financial penalties for removing a healthy, mature tree. That is not the case in Virginia, where local governments are restricted from enacting ordinances that are more stringent than statutes that govern the Commonwealth. This so-called Dillon Rule thwarts local action on many issues, including enacting more effective tree-preservation controls.

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Mature Trees Are Valuable Trees

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2018-19 Training Course Is Full

Enrollment for the 2018-19 training course for Tree Steward volunteers is full. Additional applicants will be added to a wait list and notified if any vacancy occurs.


Please consider enrolling in the 2019-20 training sessions.

What do Tree Stewards do?
Tree Stewards
Increase public awareness of intrinsic value and beauty of trees
Help in caring for the urban forest and work to increase canopy cover
Educate residents about urban forestry and the care of trees
Involve the community as volunteers in caring for trees

How do I become a Tree Steward?
Take the Tree Stewards Training Class
Volunteer for 30 hours on approved projects—many are available throughout the year

To remain a Tree Steward in good standing, each year you must:
Complete 20 volunteer hours
Complete 8 hours of continuing education (opportunities provided by TSAA and others)
Pay $20 dues

About the Training Class

Training is divided into Four Modules:
Fall (beginning October 2) covers introductory material, Fall Tree ID, Soils, and Planting
Winter (beginning January 12) covers Winter Tree ID and Pruning
Early Spring (beginning March 19) covers Spring Tree ID, and Native vs Non-native Invasive Plants and Vines
Late Spring (beginning April 16) covers Right Tree/Right Place, Pests and Diseases, and Care of Mature Trees

Each module includes two to four mandatory classes. No more than two classes can be missed throughout the training, and any missed classes must be made up either by attending the class during the next round of training or finding a suitable replacement with the training coordinator.

Trainees must also attend one field session each module—in most cases, two sessions are scheduled for each topic, and trainees must attend one but could opt to attend both.

See the Training Syllabus for details on dates, locations, and learning objectives.

What does the Training Class cost?

The $120 fee pays for all course materials and facility expenses. If you need a scholarship to attend, tell us what you will be able to pay and what your plans are for volunteer work. No one willing to volunteer is turned away for lack of funds.

How do I apply?

You can apply online by completing our Application Form

Once you are accepted, you will receive an email instructing you how to pay the fee via Paypal or by sending a check to our Treasurer.

I still have questions—how do I contact you?

Email us at info@treestewards.org We will get back with answers to your questions as soon as possible.

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