Great Long Read

IS GMO a Bad Word or the Way of the World?

Darling 58 is on a path to become the first genetically modified tree to be released in the wild. Should we worry about this new American Chestnut? Or should we embrace it? Here’s a long read by science and nature writer Rowan Jacobsen to help you see both sides.

Posted in Chestnut, Future, GMO | Tagged , , ,

CE for All

Webinars on Your Computer

Archived webinars are an easy way to meet some of your required Continuing Education credits. All but trainees and recent graduates need to log 8 CE hours per year. Each webinar runs about an hour.

TREE Fund, associated with the International Society of Arboriculture, has archived many webinars for people interested in trees. During the June webinar, Dr. Nina Bassuk of Cornell University discussed the profound effects of human development on urban soils. Soils are inevitably compacted and regraded or paved over during construction projects. Dr. Bassuk has developed the “Scoop and Dump” method of soil remediation, akin to a compost injection into the soil. Watch her webinar to hear how this low-impact solution has been proven to remediate degraded soils and provide a long-term solution towards creating a sustainable landscape after construction. For this and other TREE Fund webinars, click here.

For archived on-demand climate webinars presented by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, click here. The latest is an analysis of climate change impacts on tree species of the Eastern United States.

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Trees and Stream Restoration: What’s the Connection?


Eroding stream banks can expose tree roots, eventually killing trees, which can fall into streams, blocking water flow and reducing precious tree canopy. But many mature trees often are lost when streams are “restored.” They cannot be replaced with like-sized trees that perform the same ecological functions, such as capturing and filtering stormwater. In addition, the soil disturbance by bulldozers can remove seed banks of native plants and invite non-native plants such as Japanese stilt grass, wavyleaf basket grass and others to invade restoration areas and outcompete the native plants that butterflies, birds and other creatures rely on for food. Anytime a stream restoration is planned, it’s a good idea to learn as much about it as possible, submit feedback and monitor the situation before, during and after. It’s a great way to stand up for trees.

Gulf Branch is the latest stream restoration project in Arlington. The introductory public meeting is Wednesday, July 17 from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at Gulf Branch Nature Center, 3608 N. Military Rd., Arlington. Here’s a link to the project. Tree Stewards have been asked by Arlington County to provide feedback. Please do so.

Posted in Advocacy, Arlington Tree Canopy | Tagged , , ,

Spring Doings

Meet Our Graduates

Tree Stewards graduates 2019
Meet a dozen of the 13 Tree Stewards graduates of the first Modular Training, April 30, 2019. Some have completed the required 30 volunteer hours to become certified Tree Stewards. They’ll receive their wooden name badges and green polo shirts at the Membership meeting on July 9. Left to right: Lauren Oschman, Jenny Johns, Marjorie Burnett, Kathryn Chiasson, Barbara Goodman, Cathy Swider, Neil Snyder, Pattee Ryan, Tom Schelstrate, Kevin Sherlock, David Chamowitz and Gretchen Crowley. Not pictured, Somer Abdeljawad. Photo by Tree Steward Jo Allen

The Training Committee is incredibly proud of the intrepid students who learned all about trees, from planting to pruning, during our first try with training in modules. They stuck with it through three seasons. They became friends, and they volunteered all during their training. We’re happy to call them our Mod Squad 2018-19! We adore all of them for their dedication not only to training but for their love of trees and their understanding of the volunteer effort it takes to try to put trees first in our changing urban environment.

Accompany this very smart cadre of new Tree Steward during their training sessions. They’re eager to enlighten their world with their new tree knowledge but remain open to learning much, much more. Here is a gallery of slides.

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Spring Doings.1

Picnic in the Rain

To celebrate our graduates and express our gratitude for our valued community partners, we held a picnic last Fort Ward Park in Alexandria on a rainy May 5th. Fortunately, there was a pavilion to keep guests dry, and a patio umbrella helped shield burgers and mushrooms from the mist. Here are photos from the event taken by Tree Steward Jane Seward.

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Spring Doings.2

Adding 33 Trees at Polk School, the First of 100

Polk Planters
Polk School staff, students, neighbors and friends volunteered to plant the trees at the Alexandria school.
Photo by Tree Steward Eileen Grant.

Tree Stewards Jane Seward and Lynn Gas and teacher Steven Neely coordinated a city-approved plan to add 100 trees to the grounds of James K. Polk Elementary School in Alexandria, and on May 4th, 27 volunteers joined in installing the first 33 trees. Thanks to a $1,000 donation by Tree Steward Bonnie Petry, all the trees will be watered for their first year. Another big planting is planned at the school this fall. Check out the planters in action, photographed by Jane Seward and Eileen Grant.

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Spring Doings.3

Adding Trees to 4MR Park

Ready to Plant
Oracle Crop. volunteers in red T-shirts joined Tree Stewards and other volunteers on May 11 to plant 30 trees in Four Mile Run Park, Alexandria. Photo by Tree Steward Jo Allen.

Volunteers from Oracle Corp. in Arlington joined Tree Stewards and other volunteers to add 30 trees around a play field in Alexandria’s Four Mile Run Park on May 11. The trees were provided by the city’s Natural Resources division and joined others that have been planted in the large park over several years. See the volunteers in action.

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Spring Doings.4

Cover Story: We’re on the Front Page

Over five sessions this spring, Tree Stewards visited two Arlington parks to sleeve nearly 1,000 saplings with biodegradable tubes that will protect from wind, wildlife, and chemicals until the trees can survive on their own. The bare-root trees were planted in November by contractors and volunteers from Tree Stewards of Arlington and Alexandria, Arlington Regional Master Naturalists and Master Gardeners of Northern Virginia.

This Arlington Connection cover story on the Lower Bluemont Park tree tubing team was prepared by author and photographer Eden Brown, a Tree Steward who also participated in the work. Thanks, Eden! 

The 78 hours of volunteer work by Tree Stewards was the up side of the decidedly down down-page story on Page 3 of the Arlington Connection describing the recent County Board’s unanimous vote to permit Accessory Dwelling Units within five feet of property lines over the objections of its own Urban Forestry Commission and the Arlington Tree Action Group. 

Tree experts and advocates argued that lot perimeter trees would likely be cut down to make room for these new buildings and suggested that incentives to preserve mature trees as well as requirements to monitor impacts to trees be added to the amendment. County staff declined to change the text.

Click here to see the May 22 issue of Arlington Connection.

Posted in Arlington Tree Canopy | Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Young Trees Need Your Help Now

Tree Stewards of Arlington and Alexandria invite you to join us in volunteering to sleeve saplings with biodegradable tubes that will protect from wind, wildlife and chemicals until the trees can survive on their own in our parks. This is an easy, rewarding task that can demonstrate your deep love of Arlington trees. 

Last fall, nearly 1,000 bare-root trees were planted by contractors and local volunteers from Tree Stewards, Arlington Regional Master Naturalists and Master Gardeners of Northern Virginia. The trees did very well over the winter, but they’re beginning to tempt hungry rabbits and deer whose chomp could easily kill the young saplings. They need your help now so they can become the next generation of stream-side trees.

No experience necessary. Gloves, tools, snacks and water will be provided. Click on one or both dates to volunteer via Eventbrite:

1 to 4 p.m. Wednesday, May 15
Benjamin Banneker Park, 6620 18th St. N., Arlington
1 to 4 p.m. Sunday, May 19
Lower Bluemont Park, 401 N. Manchester St., Arlington

Posted in Arlington Tree Canopy, Benjamin Banneker Park, Bluemont Park, Community Service, Events, Growing Tree Canopy, Re-Tree, Tree Care, Volunteer | Tagged ,

City Nature Challenge Starts Friday

Over four days starting this Friday, which cities worldwide will engage the most people to record the most observations of wildlife and plants, and find the most species? This is the City Nature Challenge, and it’s open to all, including you. Last year, 68 cities participated and tallied 441,888 observations by 17,329 people. This year, more than 160 cities around the globe will join this citizen science effort.
The free iNaturalist app ( is how data is recorded by those participating in the City Nature Challenge. First, install the app, or the even snazzier Seek version ( on your smart phone or tablet. Second, with a fully charged device, go outside from Friday, April 26 through Monday, April 29 and photograph living things with the app. Seek will tell you instantly what you have seen. The standard version can be asked to suggest possibilities. Third, be sure to upload your photos to iNaturalist. Save precious battery power by uploading your images from your home computer. Scientists and researchers will help identify your findings. To reduce their burden, do not submit photos of your pets, common birds or commonly cultivated flowers. No fido, no robins, no tulips. A short instructional video about how to use iNaturalist can be found here:
If you plan to focus on trees, take several photos: one with the entire tree and its surroundings, one of the branching pattern (alternate or opposite), one of the bark, one of the leaves and any flowers or fruit, and be sure to include any evidence of pests or disease. Submit all of the images of the same subject so that scientists have a better chance of correctly identifying what you saw. Your aim is to get “research grade” status for your work. Sometimes a piece of white paper or foil can help illuminate your subject, such as bark or a stationary salamander, so that researchers can see more detail of telltale markings.
For those fascinated by fungi, a good technique is to take a mirror with you and place it under the subject so that in one shot you can capture the base, stem, connection to the cap, gills and top of the mushroom. Detail of the area where the stem connects to the cap is crucial in identifying fungi with photos, so be sure to focus on that.
This type of crowd sourcing allows scientists worldwide, including many at our own Smithsonian Institution, to mine the data for information they need to track species. You might even find a new species! It has happened in our area before with insects, so go chase some bugs with your phone and see what turns up.
Last year, the DC Metro area did well during the City Nature Challenge, according to Alonso Abugattas, writing on the Capital Naturalist blog. He said the area’s 22,809 observations ranked it fifth overall, behind San Francisco—which with Los Angeles started the competition three years ago—(41,737 observations), Dallas/Fort Worth (34,218 observations), San Diego (33,448 observations), and Klang Valley/Greater Kuala Lumpur (25,287 observations). Just behind DC were Houston and New York. Coming in last was Palmer Station Antarctica, whose three participants had 36 observations of 27 species. Globally 124 new species were added to the iNaturalist data base that had not been present before.
     Participation by 876 individuals ranked our area fourth, behind San Francisco (1,532 observers), San Diego County (1,211 observers), Boston (992 observers), and just ahead of Los Angeles (855 observers).
The DC area came in eighth last year with 1,855 verified species observed during 40 planned events, 25 of them in Arlington. This year, more than 124 local events are planned. Check them out and sign up for events sponsored by Arlington County at Those under the auspices of Arlington Regional Master Naturalists are at For area-wide events, go to

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