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Coordinator’s Corner — February

February 5, 2016

Its only February but it feels like spring here in Olympia, where crocus and snowdrops are starting to pop up. Almost as noticeable are the garden catalogs popping into my mailbox, all filled with tempting plants and trees. A prudent planter will resist the initial attraction of catalog beauty shots and instead pause for a bit of planning, because both the plant and where you plant it must be carefully considered before you buy.

Trees require a ‘long-term lease’ on the space they will grow into and a long-term commitment to the maintenance they need to survive. Ask the hard questions such as, “Will the tree you plant today outgrow its space in thirty years or less and need to be removed?” or, “Will extraordinary measures be necessary to establish and maintain a tree susceptible to particular insects or disease?” There are several good tree selection tools available on line; check out Landscape Plants or SelecTree to choose trees by characteristics and attributes. Tree ‘planners’ are encouraged to check out this tree planting checklist.

While you are in the planning mode, grab your calendar and plan to attend one of our annual seminars to learn what it takes to grow quality trees.  “Quality Trees, Quality Cities” is a half-day workshop held in 8 locations throughout Washington. The workshop will cover what it takes to grow healthy, vibrant trees that enhance the quality of life in your community.  For more information, follow this link to the full Tree Link article.

Here are a few more things to plan for:

  • The Landscape Scale Restoration Project Grant Proposal letter of interest is due on February 29
  • Washington State Arbor Day is April 13 this year. (if you are busy on that date, remember that Arbor Day may be proclaimed any day of the year)
  • The Community Tree Management Institute is held every other year, in partnership with Oregon Department of Forestry. Watch for the formal announcement in the March Tree Link, and consider attending this professional-level training designed for community tree managers.

Enjoy this coming spring.


By Linden J. Lampman, program manager, DNR Urban and Community Forestry Program

Congrats to our 2015 Tree–USA Partners

February 5, 2016

There are 86 cities and towns across Washington that have earned the Tree City USA Award, 11 Tree Line USA Utility Companies, and 6 Tree Campus USA Colleges and Universities.

Tree Campus USA Awards:

DNR is pleased to announce that seven institutions of higher education in Washington have been awarded the 2014 Tree Campus USA Award from the Arbor Day Foundation. Congratulations to the re-certifying campuses: Clark College, Columbia Basin College, University of Puget Sound, and University of Washington, Washington State University, Main Campus, Pullman, WA; and Washington State University, Vancouver Campus, Vancouver, WA.

Tree Line USA Awards:

Ten Washington Utility Companies have been awarded the 2014 Tree Line USA Award from the Arbor Day Foundation. Congratulations to: Chelan County PUD #1, Benton County PUD, Clark County PUD, Puget Sound Energy, Richland Energy Services, Snohomish County PUD No. 1, Tacoma Power, Avista Utilities, Seattle City Light, Benton REA, and PacifiCorp. (Note: Pacific Power and Light is a Tree Line USA that operates in several counties in Washington but certifies its Tree Line USA status through the state of Oregon where its corporate headquarters are located).

Tree City USA

Tree City USA Awards:

Congratulations to our newest Tree City USA Community: Duvall! Duvall joins 85 other Washington cities that have been awarded the 2015 Tree City USA Award from the Arbor Day Foundation

Congratulations to: Airway Heights, Anacortes, Arlington, Auburn, Bainbridge Island, Bellevue, Bellingham, Bonney Lake, Bothell, Bremerton, Burien, Cashmere, Centralia, Chelan, Cheney, Clyde Hill, Colfax, Colville, Covington, Dupont, Ellensburg, Entiat, Enumclaw, Everett, Fairchild AFB, Fairfield, Fife, George, Grandview, Hoquiam, Issaquah, Kennewick, Kent, Kirkland, Lacey, Lake Forest Park, Liberty Lake, Longview, Lynnwood, Marysville, Medina, Millwood, North Bend, Oak Harbor, Okanogan, Olympia, Omak, Oroville, Pasco, Pateros, Port Townsend, Poulsbo, Pullman, Puyallup, Redmond, Renton, Richland, Ritzville, SeaTac, Seattle, Shoreline, Snoqualmie, Spokane, Steilacoom, Tacoma, Tonasket, Town of Hunts Point, Tukwila, Tumwater, University Place, Vancouver, Walla Walla, Waterville, Wenatchee, Woodinville, Woodland, Woodway, Yarrow Point and Yelm.

Even if your city is already a Tree City, you probably know other staff, citizens, business owners, or fellow tree advocates in neighboring communities that are not. So talk to your friends. Bring the message to your colleagues. Share the Tree City USA Program with your respective professional organizations. Join the Washington Community Forestry Council, in partnership with the Department of Natural Resources’ Urban & Community Forestry Program in helping grow the Tree City USA Program in Washington. With your help we can break the 100 city mark and continue building the case for increased resources and funding for urban forest stewardship in Washington.

Is your community a Tree City USA?

Visit the Arbor Day Foundation to learn more about Tree Campus, Tree Line and Tree City USA, and other programs they offer.

New Seminar for 2016: Quality Trees, Quality Cities

February 5, 2016

“Quality Trees, Quality Cities”

Communities are cleaner, healthier and more livable when trees and other public assets are well cared for. Adopting best practices for trees can improve the quality of your city while saving time and money.

The Washington State Department of Natural Resources Urban & Community Forestry Program presents the seminar “Quality Trees, Quality Cities” to outline how something as simple as proper tree care can cost-effectively improve the health, quality of life and vibrancy of your community.

Topics discussed include:

  • Industry-accepted best practices for landscape tree care such as planting, pruning, etc.
  • Principles of tree selection, planning, and planting the right tree in the right place
  • Roles of city departments, public utilities, citizens and other stakeholders in managing trees
  • Strategies to maintain and manage trees with limited resources
  • High and hidden costs associated with deferred maintenance, and how to avoid them
  • Connecting tree and landscape care with other efforts to improve the quality of your city
spokane urban forest

Proper tree care can help improve cities. Photo by Guy Kramer

The seminar is free of charge. Lunch is not provided; attendees must bring their own.

To reserve a seat at the seminar, please reply to  no later than 4:00 p.m. on the last Friday prior to the seminar you wish to attend. Please indicate which seminar you will attend (see dates below) and include your name and title. Multiple reservations may be made in one message; please include all names and titles in the body of the message.

Registration is limited to 30 participants. Details including an agenda and parking information will be provided to registrants in the week prior to each seminar. Please forward this announcement to others in your area who may find it useful.

Join us at this no-cost seminar to learn more about managing your community trees and forests for maximum benefit. Upcoming seminars include:

Vancouver: Wednesday, May 11, 8:30-1:00

Bellevue: Wednesday, June 21, 8:00-12:30

Poulsbo: Wednesday, August 10, 8:30-1:00

Olympia: Wednesday, September 28, 8:30-1:00

Richland: Wednesday, June 1, 8:30-1:00 Richland Community Center,

Mount Vernon: Wednesday, July 20, 8:30-1:00

Spokane: Wednesday, August 24, 8:30-1:00

Wenatchee: Thursday, October 27, 8:30-1:00

Please contact me if you have questions or concerns.

Ben Thompson

Urban Forestry Specialist

WA State Department of Natural Resources



2016 Horticulture Series in Wenatchee; other Eastern WA events

February 5, 2016

If you’re a community tree advocate in Eastern Washington, there may be a learning opportunity near you in the not-too-distant future. Check out what our partners have planned:


WSU Chelan-Douglas County Extension announces their 2016 Horticulture Series, sponsored by Chelan County PUD. The 2016 horticulture series will cover many facets of landscape management.

April 21: Early Structural Pruning of Trees– this program will cover the when, what and how of early structural pruning.

June 23: Safe and Effective Pesticide Use—this program will cover reading labels, safe use of pesticides and equipment calibration.

August 25: Turfgrass Management—this program will cover compaction and rehabilitation for heavily used turf areas.

October 27: Quality Trees, Quality Cities—this program will cover how adopting best practices for trees can improve the quality of your city while saving time & money.

WSDA Pesticide Recertification Credits and ISA Certified Arborist Recertification Credits will be available for most classes.
All the classes will be held in Wenatchee, WA.

Additional details and registration information are forthcoming but will be available within the next 4-6 weeks on the WSU Chelan-Douglas County Extension website.


The Spokane Conservation District is offering a one-day intensive Tree School workshop that will summarize impacts from the 2015 wind storms and discuss best practices moving forward. It is designed for arborists and other urban forestry professionals, but general public are also invited. Speakers include representatives from City of Spokane Urban Forestry, Avista, Department of Natural Resources, & more. ISA continuing education credits will be offered. Registration closes March 9, but seating is limited, so register early to secure your spot.

Cost: $50 – scholarships available for veterans, includes lunch and light breakfast
Date: Friday, March 11, 2016
Time: 9:00 AM-4:00 PM, check-in at 8:30 AM
Location: Spokane Conservation District, 210 N Havana, Spokane, WA 99202   Click here to register online.
Program: Click here to view the agenda with talk descriptions and speaker bios.


The following classes are upcoming at the Yakima Area Arboretum:

Growing Healthy Trees

Wednesday February 17, 2016 from 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM PST
Discover the ins and outs of growing healthy trees in Central Washington. This class will focus on identifying, preventing and/or treating commonly found diseases and infestations in your home landscape.
Thursday March 3, 2016 at 6:00 PM PST
Saturday March 5, 2016 at 12:00 PM PST

This class includes an evening lecture and an outdoor workshop for participants to practice their new pruning skills.

A Tree to Try — Cucumbertree (its from the nursery, not the grocery)

February 5, 2016
Cucumber tree trunk

Mature Cucumbertree trunk, Univ. of Washington Campus. Photo by Sara Shores, Campus Arborist

The Cucumbertree is named for its unripe seed pods, which are green and slightly curved like tiny pickling cucumbers, but the similarities stop there. The Cucumbertree is a magnolia and a lovely one at that. You plant geeks may know it best by the Latin name, Magnolia acuminata.

This handsome specimen is one of the largest, fastest growing and most adaptable of all magnolias. It has a distinctive pyramidal growth habit when young, developing into a broad spreading crown with thick, arching branches throughout the canopy as the tree matures. Cucumbertree may attain heights of up to 80 feet or more, although 50 to 60 feet is more common in urban settings.

Like other magnolias, its roots are fleshy and don’t like to be cramped. Considering this and the tree’s mature size reserves the Cucumbertree for planting sites where both canopy and roots have room to grow, such as in parks or other large open spaces.

Cucumbertree in residential setting

Cucumbertree in a residential setting, Spokane WA. Photo by Angel Spell, Spokane Urban Forester

Unlike other magnolias, Cucumbertree lacks a showy flower display, but it does have an attractive coarse-textured look in the landscape with yellow-gold fall color and distinctively textured bark when mature.

It also has good habits from a management standpoint: the tree is largely pest and disease free, requires little pruning to maintain proper structure, and is relatively strong-wooded. Storm damage is not a big concern, because this tree is deciduous and, therefore, less susceptible to loading from rain, snow and ice.

Cucumbertree is native to the eastern United States and thrives in both very cold and very warm climates. It grows best in moist, loamy, well-drained soils and is adaptable to other conditions, however, planting in coarse, rocky soils is not recommended. In favorable soil conditions, this tree should perform well in any corner of Washington state.

Cucumbertree leaves

Leaves of the Cucumbertree. Photo from wikimedia commons.

The University of Washington in Seattle has at least two Cucumbertrees on campus and several more specimens are doing well in Spokane. Others are likely planted here and there across the Northwest, but we can safely say this tree is drastically under-planted in the Evergreen State.

If you need to diversify your urban forest with unique, graceful, low-maintenance shade trees, then go out and plant yourself a garden of cucumbers—trees that is.

Swiss Needle Cast Disease on Douglas-fir in Coastal WA

February 5, 2016
SNC on Douglas-fir

A Douglas-fir with low foliar retention, a symptom of Swiss needle cast. Photo by Alan Kanaskie, Oregon Dept. of Forestry.

The fungus that causes Swiss needle cast (SNC), Phaeocryptopus gaeumannii (T.Rohde) Petrak, is found throughout the range of its only host, Douglas-fir. The disease is most damaging near the Pacific coast due to the fungi-favorable climatic (mild winters and wet springs and summers) and topographic conditions. SNC can reduce growth of host trees, alter wood properties, and affect stand structure and development.

In late April and May of 2015, an aerial survey covering 2.6 million acres was flown to detect and map the distribution of SNC symptoms in coastal Washington.

The observation plane flew at 1,500 to 2,000 feet above the terrain, following north-south lines separated by 3 miles. Observers looked for areas of Douglas-fir forest with obvious yellow-brown foliage, a symptom of SNC. Patches of forest with these symptoms were sketched onto computer touch-screens displaying topographic maps or orthophotos and the position of the aircraft. Each patch was classified for degree of discoloration as either “S” (severe) or “M” (moderate). Patches classified as “S” had very sparse crowns and brownish foliage, while those classified as “M” were predominantly yellow-brown foliage with slightly denser crowns than those classified as “S”.

Nearly 350,000 acres of symptomatic Douglas-fir were mapped, which is an increase from the 230,000 acres mapped in the 2012 aerial survey. The survey boundaries were similar to those in the 2012 survey.

Severely symptomatic stands were generally located near the coast and the Grays Harbor area. The cause of the dramatic increase in acreage mapped from 2012 to 2015 remains uncertain, in part due to our ground plot network not extending as far east as the mapped aerial survey and the potentially confounding impacts of an unusually dry and warm winter and spring in 2015.

Forty-seven ground sites across the range of the aerial survey were surveyed for Douglas-fir foliar retention and SNC severity. An average of 2.3 years of foliage were on the trees across all sites. Healthy Douglas-fir carry three or more years of foliage. Previous growth impact studies conducted by Dr. Doug Maguire, and other researchers at Oregon State University, have estimated that growth losses may be as high as 20-30% when foliar retention ranges from 2.1 to 2.5 years.

Douglas-fir is the only host of this disease, therefore forest managers can grow non-host species such as red alder, western redcedar, western hemlock and Sitka spruce in efforts to reduce damage from SNC. However, it should be noted that if Douglas-fir have more than three years of foliage on the branches, then loss impacts are likely minimal to none.

Acknowledgements: Funding for the SNC survey was provided by the Quinault Indian Nation and US Forest Service, which is an equal opportunity provider. The survey was conducted by the Washington DNR and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

For information on the Swiss Needle Cast Cooperative, visit:


Timely Tree Tips — Marketing the Urban Forest

February 5, 2016

Research shows that the monetary value of tree benefits and services exceeds the costs of maintaining them. With such positive, science-based investment potential, you’d think the urban forest would sell itself.

Why then, with so much valuable scientific research on hand, do urban forestry advocates struggle to convince citizens and decision-makers of the urban forest’s value? There are probably a lot of reasons why but here is a big one, indulge me.

Education, as in, providing factual information, is not the same thing as inspiring behavior change.

young street trees

Trees are your widgets. Photo by Guy Kramer

A company selling widgets wants you to know they have the best widgets in town, but more importantly they want to persuade you to go buy one.

Principles of persuasion are rooted in principles of human psychology. Advertising agencies try to tap into the fundamental needs, concerns, and desires of their target ‘demographic’ in order to persuade them to take a specific action.  

This same approach can be applied to marketing the urban forest and guess what? Someone has already done that.

Marketing the urban forest “…is a matter of convincing various individuals and groups that the cause of community forests meshes with their cause, their concerns, and their vision for the community. It is a matter of persuading them either to take action or support the actions of others.”

This quote is an excerpt from a 2002 handbook called “Planting the Seeds of Success; Marketing the Community Forest”, which “…is a research product created by the Center for Urban Forest Research in collaboration with the California Urban Forest Council, Crocker/Flanagan Marketing, Inc. and Hal Voege Consulting.

If this pique’s your interest, download a copy of the handbook. And don’t let the date on the publication deter you; it is as relevant today as it was in 2002.