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Quote of the Month — February

February 19, 2015
Groundhog photo, courtesy: NOAA

Groundhog. Photo courtesy of NOAA

Old Groundhog stretched in his leafy bed.
He turned over slowly and then he said,
“I wonder if spring is on the way,
I’ll go and check the weather today…”

~Author Unknown

Coordinator’s Corner — There is a Season, Prune… Prune… Prune

February 19, 2015

No, I’m not talking about ‘Byrds‘, I’m talking about groundhogs. On a walk through Olympia’s Priest Point Park recently, I noticed slivers of green peeking through swollen buds on many of the native shrubs — in January! It made me wonder if the proverbial groundhog would (or hopefully wouldn’t) see his shadow this year. Turns out he did see his shadow and now we’re in for what, six more weeks of mild weather?

Nonetheless, there is still time to get some dormant season pruning done now while you can clearly see trees’ structures and assess their pruning needs. A large percentage of foreseeable tree-related issues can and should be addressed when a tree is young. Pruning young trees is a worthwhile investment because structural problems can be corrected early, before the tree and the pruning needs grow larger and more costly.

One of our favorite pruning resources here at DNR is from one of our partners, the US Forest Service. The appropriately titled ‘How to Prune Trees,’  pamphlet steps readers through the why and how of pruning with plain language and clear illustrations. Another great resource for urban foresters is by pruning Guru Ed Gilman titled Developing a preventive pruning program: Young trees.

Our program staff are available to provide training on tree pruning and other topics for city staff and tree board members in your community. Contact Leif Fixen (NW Washington), Garth Davis (NE Washington), or Ben Thompson for more information.

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

Tree City USA Communities: 2015 Arbor Day Tree Reimbursements Available

February 19, 2015

Communities in Washington that have earned the Tree City USA award and are celebrating Arbor Day in 2015 are, once again, eligible for reimbursement by DNR for the planting of an Arbor Day tree or trees. This year, we have bumped the value of the reimbursements from $200 up to $500 so that all Tree City USA communities have the opportunity to plant a landscape-sized tree on Arbor Day. We are developing a revised reimbursement form to reflect this change; look for it to be advertised in the March edition of Tree Link or contact DNR Urban Forestry Program Staff after March 1 to obtain a copy.

If your Tree City USA Community would like to have a representative from DNR or the Washington Community Forestry Council attend your Arbor Day Event or a City Council meeting to present your Tree City USA Award, please email

Planting trees that thrive

Give your trees the best possible start. Find out the right way to plant trees by visiting or watch our YouTube video on how to prepare container trees for planting.

Tree Inventory “Brown Bag” Series in 2015

February 19, 2015

In 2012, DNR’s Urban and Community Forestry Program created a separate grant program specific to performing inventories of public trees. Since that time, nearly 20 inventories have been conducted and more grants will be awarded to successful applicants next month. Many other cities have established tree inventories on their own.

Good planning starts with an nventory.

Good planning starts with an nventory.

We know that a tree inventory is a powerful tool in urban forest management; however, harnessing the power of data can be challenging for those with limited tree inventory experience. As stewards and managers of urban forests, it is imperative that we teach ourselves how to make the best use of tree inventory data.

DNR’s Urban and Community Forestry Program has plans to offer regional “brown-bag” style seminars on Tree Inventory in 2015. The specific topics and presentations have yet to be developed, but the seminars will include an overview of different types of tree inventories, cover the basics of how an inventory can be used, and offer tips on how to use your inventory effectively.

Seminar locations have yet to be determined; however, they will take place on a weekday from approximately 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and, ideally, will include an outdoor component. There is no charge to attend but participants must provide their own lunches. Seminars will be regionally advertised in advance with assistance from our program partners throughout the state.

More details on the 2015 Tree Inventory Seminars will be provided in the March edition of Tree Link.

Poll: How Do You Get Your Tree Questions Answered?

February 19, 2015

Our last Tree Link poll was designed to assess and understand the professional backgrounds of our dedicated readership.

This month, we’re wondering who you turn to when you have a tree question.

Please take a moment to participate. It takes just a few seconds, your response is completely anonymous, and results will help DNR staff continue to provide meaningful content in future editions of the Tree Link.

When selecting your answer, choose the response that most closely represents where you often turn for the majority of your tree-related questions or concerns.

Come Fly With Me: Drones for Tree Assessment and Care

February 19, 2015

This article by Ellyn Shea was reprinted as it appeared on the Deeproot blog on January 19, 2015.

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) or “drones” evoke a variety of responses from people, ranging from anger over privacy invasion to awe over the new perspectives on our world. But like the Force, drones are merely tools that can be used for either the Dark Side or the Light. My interest in drones is related to the valuable role they may play in forest assessment, utility vegetation management, and tree risk assessment, but the need to maintain human involvement remains paramount. 

In December 2014, Tom Smiley of Bartlett Tree Experts presented on this topic at the American Society of Consulting Arborists (ASCA) conference in Palm Springs, California. Bartlett has been using drones to evaluate trees for disease and for general tree assessment in the UK and US.

A View of Charleston’s Angel Oak from an Aerial Inspection Device

There’s no doubt the topic is sexy. The unique bird’s eye perspective and the ability to see fine details high up in the trees are impressive. However, there are serious limitations both technological and legal. Here is a summary of salient points from Tom’s presentation:

Drone Flight at the ASCA Conference, December 2014

  • Drones range in price from $50 to $500 on the low end to $2,000 to $3,000 on the high end. Bartlett has been using mid-range DJI models, the Phantom 2 and Phantom 2 Vision+, which run around $1,500. Options contributing to price include GPS, ease of control, quality of camera, ruggedness (important!), altitude range, image stabilization and quality of operator’s viewscreen (the operator on the ground can see what the drone sees via a live video feed).
  • Applications for tree work include health inspections, risk assessment and guidance for view pruning. Other companies have been using drones for forest health assessment and utility line clearance surveys.
  • Currently they are limited to 15-20 minutes of flight time, so it is vital to define your mission in advance on the ground before you begin.
  • Use when the wind is less than 15 mph, as high wind causes the engine to work harder, wasting battery life.
  • Keep the drone within visual range and close to the tree. Don’t fly over people and remember to treat the air over private property as private. Don’t fly within 5 miles of an airport. GPS in the better units can locate these zones and will avoid them.
  • Have a rescue plan – drones can get stuck in trees.
  • Oh, by the way, it’s actually illegal. Yup, you need permission from the FAA to legally fly drones for commercial purposes. Permission is currently granted only to public entities and universities. However, Congress has told the FAA to develop a plan to safely integrate commercial UAVs by September 2015. Regulations will likely restrict maximum altitude, time of day, and may even require a pilot’s license.
  • Although flying UAVs for commercial purposes is not legal, the insurance industry is already looking ahead. Get insurance if you are going to use UAVs in your tree work.

Drone Inspection of Structural Hazards

Currently, the ISA Tree Risk Assessment Best Management Practices (BMPs) recognize three levels of tree risk assessment. Level 1 is limited visual assessment, typically a drive-by or fly over in which the arborist may locate the most extreme hazards in a large area, typically dead trees, uprooted trees and broken branches. Level 2, the most commonly used, is basic visual assessment of an individual tree from the ground, viewing from all angles or as many as possible.

In a Level 2 inspection, an arborist reads the “body language” of a tree to locate clues to potential hazards including fungal conks, cracks and splits, and structural defects that may lead to failure. If a Level 2 assessment turns up something requiring additional investigation, Level 3 advanced assessment methods may be used. These include drilling, coring, excavating (often using air or water to expose roots), or an aerial inspection, traditionally done using a climber in the tree.

Although drones are not discussed in the current BMPs, they would probably be useful for both Level 1 fly overs and Level 3 aerial inspections. It’s important to stress, however, that advanced inspection toys are only as useful as the experience and knowledge of the arborist using them. Buying a drone, however nifty the idea, will not make us better arborists. Some professionals may be seduced and make the leap early. The rest of us will likely wait because as with all gadgets, the better and cheaper ones are yet to come.

Ellyn Shea is an arborist and consultant in San Francisco.


Timely Tree Tips – Know Your Planting Site

February 19, 2015

Though autumn is the preferred planting season in the Pacific Northwest, many communities plant trees in spring to coincide with the celebration of Arbor Day (which will be here before you know it!). But regardless of when you plant, there is never a bad time to reinforce the importance of knowing your planting site before planting a tree.

Selecting and planting a tree without first assessing the planting site is… well, it’s kind of like throwing the football when it’s 2nd down and one yard to go before crossing the goal line—you might get lucky, but you’re taking a huge (and possibly costly) risk that may not work out.

Oly palm tree

These palms are not well suited to the conditions of their planting site (duh). Photo by Micki McNaughton/DNR

Healthy, sturdy trees begin with the right planting location.

Assess the conditions of your planting site, such as the soil volume for root growth, space for canopy development, regional climate, microclimate, wind patterns, site usage, soil type, utilities (both above and below ground), site exposure, slope, hydrology, etc., etc. Just like in sports, winning results in the field are the result of diligent preparation.

The message here is simple: don’t make a decision you may regret. Be sure you understand the unique conditions and circumstances that your tree will have to deal with through its entire life before planting in any particular location. We MUST plant trees in places where they will thrive if we want our investment in trees to deliver positive returns in the form of energy conservation, clean air, clean water, wildlife habitat, and community livability. Remember the mantra, “Right Tree, Right Place”!

These resources will help you evaluate potential planting sites to ensure that tree and planting location fit well together:

Industry Associations Join Forces, Revise Standards (ANSI Z60.1)

February 19, 2015

This might be old news for those of you in the know, but for those who might have missed it, here’s the scoop on some important developments in the green industry that took place just last year.

In January of 2014, the American Nursery and Landscape Association (ANLA) and the OFA—The Association of Horticultural Professionals, joined forces and consolidated their membership rolls under a new name, AmericanHort.

Just a few short months later in April 2014, AmericanHort helped publish a revised and updated version of the American National Standard’s Institute’s (ANSI) Z60.1, Standards for Nursery Stock. According to the AmericanHort website:

“The revisions included in the 2014 edition were developed by the association’s Horticultural Standards Committee from January, 2005, through August, 2013. The proposed revisions were then submitted to a ‘canvass list’ comprising horticulture-focused societies, associations, companies, and individuals, and related government agencies for their review and endorsement in order to develop ‘evidence of industry consensus’ to meet ANSI requirements for accredited national standards. The results of the canvass ballots unanimously approving the revisions were provided to ANSI and approved on April 14, 2014.”

If you regulate the quality of nursery stock being planted in your community, take some time to review these most current standards.

From the Field: Students in Kent, WA, Hooked on Habitat Conservation

February 19, 2015

Since the start of the 2014-15 school year, high school students in Kent, Washington, have already provided over 1,000 hours of community service and, in the process, getting cold, dirty, wet and scratched. And they keep coming back for more because they’re excited to be part of something bigger and more meaningful than a one-time experience.

The students are digging out blackberry roots and other invasive weeds, planting native trees and doing additional restoration work for the Green Kent Partnership. The goal is to restore more than 1,300 acres of publicly owned forests and other natural areas back to healthy, functioning habitats. Key partners with the City of Kent are Forterra, King County Conservation District, Kent Parks Foundation, and community members.

Now in its fourth year of field work, the Green Kent Partnership has become another innovative way for the Parks Department to stretch resources and involve the community. Parks Director Jeff Watling commented, “It’s a win-win-win for the students, the city and our natural resources.”

To jump-start the school year, the Kent School District’s environmental services supervisor tossed out a challenge: which Kent high school could have the most volunteers at Green Kent Day, the city’s biggest fall restoration event? The competition took off and by the time students started their holiday break, many had become conservation veterans.

There are 137 languages spoken by students in the Kent School District, and many young volunteers speak limited English. A number of them have never used hand tools or worked in the soil before. But they revel in receiving before-and-after photos from Parks staff following each event, showing what can be accomplished in just three hours.

Kent Mayor Suzette Cooke tries to greet volunteers at every major Parks event and always asks for a shout-out from each high school. She notes, “These kids really dig in. When I look out at their faces, I see a reflection of how diverse Kent has become since 2005 when I first took office. That really touches me. Programs like this truly engage kids and help them feel part of their community.”

City Council President Dana Ralph agrees. A Kent Parks volunteer herself, she has noticed an increase in youth participation since the Green Kent Partnership began in 2011. If the mayor doesn’t have a scheduling conflict, she frequently steps in to welcome groups and works alongside them when she can.  After an annual fall event at Kent’s Clark Lake Park, she reflected, “Something I thought about as I was standing at Clark Lake was the community connection these kinds of projects make.”

“I know the impact it has had on my own kids,” Ralph continued. “When they were in elementary school, they participated in the tree growing program. Several years in a row we took those trees to Clark Lake and the kids planted them. We have now been back many times to check on ‘their trees.’ I am so excited to watch as these kids grow up, because service is a part of who they are. They will do great things in their communities because it is what they know.”

For more information about the Green Kent student challenge, contact Victoria Andrews at 253-856-5113.

The original article and all photos provided by Victoria Andrews, Special Programs Coordinator, Kent Parks, Recreation & Community Services; Article edited for length by Tree Link Editor Ben Thompson.

Stay Up to Date with DNR: Try E-News

February 19, 2015

Thank you Tree Link readers for keeping up with the DNR Urban Forestry Program; however, did you know that DNR has other electronic newsletters that highlights the agency’s work? Check out this article below, reprinted as it originally appeared on DNR’s flagship blog, Ear to the Ground.


Want to learn more about Washington state DNR news and events? DNR has an online database of e-newsletter collections that are available to the general public at no cost.


  • Forest Stewardship Notes – Published 3-4 times a year, this newsletter provides information on products, services, and resources regarding private forestland in Washington.
  • Recreation E-News (DNR) – Learn about volunteer opportunities, developing issues, and events taking place on DNR-managed state trust lands.
  • Recreation News from DNR’s NW Region – Along with providing updates on Reiter Foothills Forest, this newsletter contains information and announcements about recreation and events on state trust lands in Island, San Juan, Skagit, Snohomish, and Whatcom counties.
  • Small Forest Landowner News – Perfect for woodland owners interested in managing their lands for economic and ecological sustainability.
  • Teanaway Community Forest News – This e-newsletter provides information on Washington’s first state-managed community forest, including the latest community forest news updates and developments.
  • The Dirt: Farming for the School Trust – An e-newsletter that is released 4 times a year, The Dirt provides information about Washington state trust lands in agriculture. Topics include: agriculture land management, public lease auctions, grazing, irrigation, and many others.
  • Tree Link – This newsletter contains all things relating to urban and community forestry, with information for community members, local governments, and anyone interested in learning about arboriculture.
  • Washington State Geology News – Here, readers can find information on news and events from the Washington State Geological Survey at DNR. Topics include earthquakes, landslides, geologic maps, mining, volcanoes, and more.

Signing up for the e-newsletters is quick and easy. Go to our subscription page, enter your email address, and check off the e-newsletters you would like to receive. Be sure to activate your subscription by clicking on the verification code that will be sent to the email address you provide.

Once signed up, you are able to self-manage your newsletters, choose how many e-newsletters you would like to receive, update your preferences as needed, provide your own address changes, and unsubscribe anytime you choose by clicking the “unsubscribe” link at the bottom of any email.

In an effort to respect readers and their privacy, our lists are never sold. If you or someone you know is interested in joining the DNR e-newsletter community, you can get more information and sign up here.

Web-ucation: Links to Help You Learn

February 19, 2015

What will the climate in your city be like by 2060?
The Scenario-Based Projected Changes Map is an online map that provides easy access to localized scenarios of projected changes in annual total precipitation, precipitation intensity, annual average temperature, 100-year storm events, and sea-level rise from EPA’s Climate Resilience Evaluation and Awareness Tool.

Teach kids about invasive species in Washington
The Washington State Department of Agriculture publishes what they call in the Invasive Species “Fun Book,” an educational activity book for children focused on the impacts of invasive plants and animals in Washington.                                                     

Managing tree related hazards and post-disaster tree recovery
The American Planning Association teams up with the US Forest Service and other partners to tackle this important topic. Find out more about their preliminary findings.

Minnesota unveils first-of-its-kind storm water crediting system for urban trees
We all know trees benefit storm water management, but Minnesota is taking the leap to quantify the contributions of trees to municipal storm water management.

Plan for your urban forest for the future
Two great new resources are available. First, the urban forest management plan toolkit takes a step-by-step approach to helping you develop a management plan for your community’s trees. In addition, the American Planning Association, in partnership with the US Forest Service, has released “Planning the Urban Forest,” a tool to help communities develop urban forestry programs to capture the social and environmental benefits of trees.

Can plants see, feel, hear, smell, communicate and think?
Check out this interview with Dr. Daniel Chamovitz, director of the Manna Center for Plant Biosciences at Tel Aviv University and author of the 2012 publication, “What a Plant Knows.”

Urban forests provide human health benefits; Does this mean that city trees save lives?
Research conducted by the US Forest Service on the connections between tree mortality and human mortality has been summarized in this video at