Four Mile Run Park Gets 50 New Trees

Alexandria’s 60-acre Four Mile Run Park has 50 new trees planted Friday, Oct. 4, by Intus Windows staff and clients—plus the Lithuanian ambassador to the United States—with inspiration and mentoring by Tree Stewards of Arlington and Alexandria.

Intus, which makes energy-efficient windows and doors, launched a “One Window One Tree” campaign In 2018 to take action to combat climate change. The company, which has a local office in the Merrifield area of Fairfax County, has a factory in Lithuania, and its two U.S. CEOs are Lithuanian. So it was only natural that Ambassador Rolandas Kriščiūnas would turn out not just for opening remarks but also to plant trees.

Alexandria officials on hand were Vice Mayor Elizabeth Bennett-Parker, City Council members Del Pepper and Mo Seifeldein, and former mayor Allison Silberberg, who spurred city tree planting when in office and has supported Tree Stewards and Intus at previous plantings.

Intus brought more than 50 employees and 10 clients to the park and installed the 50 trees within 90 minutes. Tree Steward Bonnie Petry organized the planting and logistics with help from city natural resources staff members Bob Williams and Rod Simmons, arborist John Marlin and auger-runner Dion Bates. Because of the extended drought, some of the planting holes were opened with a massive auger. The Intus crew used pick-mattocks and shovels to dig the remaining holes in the parched soil.

Petry has long championed adding more trees in the heavily used park, where she and other Tree Stewards have planted trees at least three times in recent years. She worked to have the city buy the trees and approve the planting. Petry and nine other veteran Tree Steward volunteers supervised the planters, and seven of the current class of 30 Tree Steward trainees helped with logistics early in the day.

Here are some views of the day from photographer Travis Morgan.

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Volunteer Training Begins

Nora Palmatier, standing, describes training to become a volunteer Tree Steward of Arlington and Alexandria to a roomful of new and returning interns. Photo by Tree Steward Jo Allen
Nora Palmatier, standing, describes training to become a volunteer Tree Steward of Arlington and Alexandria to a roomful of new and returning interns.

They were early arriving, eager to learn how to become trained volunteers with Tree Stewards of Arlington and Alexandria. Five interns who began classes last winter joined 25 new students to fill the training room at Fairlington Community Center on Tuesday, Sept. 24. Through this fall, part of winter and into next spring, they will learn what trees need to be the life-giving oxygen generators that will help mitigate some of the effects of climate change.

Lesson One was an overview of tree anatomy delivered by Lara Johnson of the Virginia Department of Forestry. Among the surprises: The heartwood of a tree is dead and dark with toxins. The coloration is what makes a walnut table darker than maple. Only the bark and cambium are alive, so watch those weed whackers, and don’t carve your initials on a tree. Damage to the bark can allow diseases and destructive insects to enter, sicken the tree and possibly kill it.

Cambium contains two highways that feed the tree. Xylem moves water and soil nutrients skyward to the top of the tree, where leaves use those and sunlight to produce sugars during photosynthesis. Phloem transports the sugars low underground to the tree’s roots, which are far more extensive than might be imagined, extending two or three times the width of the tree canopy, or drip line. (See Rooting Around.)

Tree anatomy is significantly more complicated, and Johnson said trainees will learn about that in future classes.

Next up: Dan Schwartz of the Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District describes urban soils and their impact on trees. Slide deck presentations can be found under the Training Materials tab.

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Planting at the Casey Trees Farm

Six Tree Stewards of Arlington and Alexandria transplanted dozens of trees Saturday at the 75-acre Casey Trees Farm near Berryville, Virginia. The farm grows trees primarily for use in helping the District of Columbia achieve 40 percent tree canopy by 2032.

New field
Root bags in the ground and young saplings await planting in the fifth large field at the Casey Trees Farm. Photos by Tree Steward Pattee Ryan
Tree Stewards Catherine Harris and Bonnie Petry, foreground, transplant a witch hazel sapling with supervision from a farm staff member.
Tree Stewards Catherine Harris and Bonnie Petry, foreground, transplant a witch hazel sapling with supervision from a farm staffer.

The Tree Stewards were among 28 volunteers helping to plant a huge new field with many species of trees. Crews at the non-profit’s farm had used augers to dig large, shallow holes and line them with root bags. Volunteers and staff removed loose soil from the root bags and placed young saplings into the holes after scuffing up the roots and making sure the root flare was at the right height. Then they added soil, tamping it down to eliminate air pockets, and moving on to the next root bag.

Among the species planted were witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana), pawpaw (Asimia triloba), several varieties of oaks, maples, and evergreens. Tree Steward volunteers were Andrew Benjamin, Steve Campbell, Catherine Harris, Bonnie Petry, Pattee Ryan and Jo Allen.

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Wait List only for Training Class

At this time, we are full for the Fall Class. There may be drop outs and if you wish to be wait listed, we will notify you of any openings before class begins. Applicants will also be considered to start in the Winter module in January 2020.

To be Wait Listed apply at

Fall Module on Planting, Tree Anatomy and Tree ID  

Tuesdays, Sept. 24, Oct. 1, Oct. 22 7 – 8:45 PM and

Outdoor Tree Planting Oct. 4, 14, 19 (choose 2)

Outdoor Tree ID Walks Oct. 12 and November TBD

Once accepted, you are eligible to attend Winter Module in January on pruning, Early Spring Module in March on caring for trees, and Late Spring Module in April on education & outreach at no additional charge.  Specific dates will be announced by November.

Who are the TreeStewards?

TreeStewards are volunteers dedicated to improving the health of our urban trees through educational programs, tree planting and tree maintenance throughout the community.

We work with the arborist staff of Arlington, Alexandria, and Falls Church to provide tree care in public spaces, assist in planting trees, and notifying staff of tree problems. We provide education through our Tree Information Tables at farmers’ markets and libraries, Earth Day events, plant sales, and other neighborhood events. As concerned citizens, we advocate to protect our urban tree canopy.

What is a Volunteer Training Program?

The Volunteer Training Program is designed to prepare participants for volunteer service to the community.  Through classroom training and hands-on practice, Tree Stewards learn the basics of tree biology and physiology, tree identification, planting and maintenance techniques, construction impacts on trees, pruning and selecting the right tree for the right spot.

What are Volunteer Service Hours?

Each trainee makes a commitment to improving and protecting their community forest through 30 hours of volunteer service during the next year. Opportunities for volunteering are provided or you may arrange to care for trees through greens committees at your place of worship, HOA, condo, school, etc.

Application Information

Class is limited and preference will be given to those who have a desire to serve the community and a commitment to volunteer service. A $120 fee will cover the cost of the four modules and all handout materials.  Scholarships available, especially school and local government staff – No one turned away for inability to pay. Please request on application form.

To be Wait Listed or for Winter 2020 Class apply at    

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Western MD Paper Mill Closes

When a paper mill closes, the impact is felt by more than its jobless employees. Forest owners and loggers also are scrambling to find feasible outlets for their products, including those grown in Virginia. Here’s the story.

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A Poll Reveals Dunderheads

Is that reference to Dunder Mifflin, the make-believe paper company in the sitcom “The Office,” too subtle? A recent poll of Americans and Canadians shows a knowledge gap when it comes to working forests, wood and paper products. Don’t be a dunderhead: Check out what your fellow Americans got wrong about trees here.

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Wood Engineered at UMD Saves AC Costs

It’s lighter than steel but nearly as strong. It comes from trees but is blindingly white. Outdoors, it stays 12 degrees cooler than the ambient temperature. Does anyone see a market for this as Earth heats up unbearably? Check out the short article and video here.

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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.

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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.

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