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Quote of the Month — August

August 6, 2015

“Trees experiencing drought stress can become more susceptible to insect and disease attacks and are less likely to recover from damage.”

~As excerpted from the report: Forest Health Highlights in Washington–2014, published in March, 2015 by the Washington Department of Natural Resources’ Forest Health Program.



Coordinator’s Corner — August

August 6, 2015

I recently read an article in the NY Times about the backlog of deferred maintenance in National Parks. The article argued that this backlog threatens the resources that the National Park Service was created to protect. It goes on to question whether it is wise to acquire more land without first creating protocols that would fund perpetual maintenance.

It is not unusual for urban forests, like National Parks, to operate with a backlog of maintenance needs. Communities looking to gain environmental, social, and economic benefits from trees continue to plant, but neglect to develop systems for long-term care. Without these systems in place, communities may actually be planting short term benefits that lead to future problems. Trees need to be carefully planned for, planted with care in locations that will accommodate both root and canopy growth, watered during establishment and monitored to determine whether structural pruning is needed (which is the case in most trees for a minimum of the first ten years).

Tree Planting Graphs-2

Tree planting cost/benefit from the Idaho Dept. of Lands.

When systems to plan, plant, care for and maintain trees are inadequate, trees may live but not thrive, may perish from lack of water, may develop root systems that compromise their long-term structural integrity, or may develop a canopy structure that is susceptible to storm damage. When trees expected to live for decades are prematurely replaced, the result is negative budget impacts, as can be calculated in dollars or costs of lost time.

Urban forestry managers are wise to analyze the level of service required to grow a healthy community forest, and develop a realistic budget accordingly. Taking the time to plan will result in safe, healthy, long-lived trees that provide a multitude of benefits.

If you’d like to learn more about managing community trees, contact us at


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

Nominations Sought for Urban Forest Stewardship Award

August 6, 2015

The Washington Community Forestry Council (WCFC) is soliciting nominations for their Urban Forest Stewardship Award. The award is typically presented at each meeting of the Council, which takes place in different locations throughout Washington state, four times per year. The next meeting will be held in North Bend on Wednesday, September 12.


If you know a deserving individual or organization in the King County region, please consider submitting a nomination for the September award. A copy of the nomination form with instructions can be downloaded here.

Urban Forest Stewardship Award Criteria 

The award will be presented to individuals who best meet the following criteria:

  • Demonstrated continued interest and participation in community beautification, habitat restoration or forestry programs.
  • Provided extraordinary services without the motive for financial reward.
  • Are known for their leadership and services among their fellow volunteers and within their communities.
  • Have not received a high degree of formal recognition for their contributions to urban and community forestry.
  • Participated in or been responsible for organizing an activity that is consistent with the purpose of the Washington State Department of Natural Resources Urban and Community Forestry Program and the mission of the Washington Community Forestry Council.*
  • Participated in or been responsible for organizing an activity that is consistent with the local jurisdiction’s urban and community forestry objectives. The local jurisdiction may include city, county or tribal governments or authorized advisory committees such as Tree Boards.

* The purpose of the Washington State Urban and Community Forestry Program is to “educate citizens and decision-makers about the economic, environmental, psychological and aesthetic benefits of trees and to assist local governments, citizen groups and volunteers in planting and sustaining healthy trees and vegetation wherever people live and work in Washington state.”

The mission of the Washington Community Forestry Council is to “provide leadership to create self-sustaining urban and community forestry programs that preserve, plant and manage forests and trees for public benefits and quality of life.”

A Tree to Try — ‘Starlight’ Dogwood (a charming Cornus kousa cross)

August 6, 2015

‘Starlight’ Dogwood, Cornus kousa x nutallii

Dogwood trees are iconic specimens, rightfully famous for their showy flower bracts*, strawberry-red fruits, and rich burgundy fall colors. There are drawbacks to planting dogwoods however, most notably that our native pacific dogwood (Cornus nutallii) is highly susceptible to a fungal disease known as anthracnose (Discula destructiva) that renders leaves spotty, brown, and potentially shriveled through the growing season.


Dogwood anthracnose damage. Photo from

The eastern flowering dogwood (Cornus florida), native to the eastern and southern United States, is also susceptible to anthracnose. Recent outbreaks in the east have been hammering dogwood populations from New England to Georgia.

Severe cases of anthracnose can defoliate entire trees and chronic infections can kill the affected hosts.

In response, plant breeders have looked overseas to the kousa dogwood (Cornus kousa) for help. Kousa dogwood, sometimes referred to as Chinese or Korean dogwood, is native to China, Japan, and Korea. Kousas exhibit  similarly desirable characteristics to our native dogwoods but are strongly resistant to anthracnose. Kousa dogwood is also known for being far more drought-tolerant than its north american cousins and is a popular landscape alternative to the pacific dogwood here in Washington.


Starlight Dogwood in Olympia, WA. Note the upright form. This tree is well selected for field conditions. Photo by DNR.

Nowadays, however, we have a new planting option called ‘Starlight’, which might just be the best of both trees.

The Starlight dogwood is a hybrid–a cross between the kousa and pacific dogwood. In a factsheet developed about this tree, Schmidt Nursery touts: “This hybrid offers the upright growth habit and form of its Pacific Dogwood parent, plus the disease resistance of its Chinese Dogwood parent.”

Starlight was originally developed by plant scientists at Rutgers University, who contend that “…no insect or disease problems have been observed during the almost thirty years since the original hybrid tree was planted.” That is a bold claim, but if true, then this charming Kousa cross deserves every ounce of attention it gets.

Starlight dogwoods achieve 30′ in height and 20′ spread after 30 years. The tree’s most distinguishing features are its dark green foliage, red fall color, and large (5″), cream-colored flower bracts* that profusely blanket trees in dramatic springtime displays. Starlight is hardy to USDA Plant Hardiness Zone 6A, meaning it should weather our Washington winters without issue in most parts of the state.

Starlight was also fortunate to inherit the Kousa’s drought-tolerance, making this tree an appropriate choice in dry or un-irrigated sites.

So, if you want the poise and character of a native dogwood but need greater resilience to environmental stresses, you won’t regret giving the Starlight Dogwood a try in your community.


*Did you know… the big “blooms” that dogwoods are known for aren’t actually flowers at all? It’s true! Dogwood flowers are actually small clustered spheres of tiny green flowers; what most people recognize are actually enlarged bracts that emerge near the base of the flowers. Bracts are not petals, nor are they leaves, but are unique plant structures that serve different functions depending on the plant. For more on bracts, check out Dave’s Garden.


Poll: Tree Protection During Development

August 6, 2015

Several Washington cities have contacted our office in the past year or so with questions and concerns about tree protection during the land development process.

This begs the question… how do the Tree Link readers feel about tree protection efforts in their community? Please check out the following poll and select the answer that most closely represents your opinion about local tree protection efforts where you live (or work).

Your answers are completely anonymous and your participation in the poll helps to inform the DNR Urban & Community Forestry Program’s understanding of the issue on a broader scale.

Seeking Information about Western Cedar Borer, a Significant Pest of Western Red Cedar

August 6, 2015

Karen Ripley, DNR Forest Entomologist

Western cedar borer tunnels in red cedar branch.  Photo: M. Lloyd

Western cedar borer tunnels in red cedar branch. Photo: M. Lloyd

The Western cedar borer (Trachykele blondeli), or “red powder worm,” is a flat-headed wood boring beetle that causes a problem called “wormy cedar.” A 1928 bulletin describes, “Hundreds of the finest standing trees of the western red cedar … in the Pacific coast region of Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia have a large proportion of their timber riddled by the flattened, oval worm holes. … These holes wind through the sapwood and heartwood of the main trunk of infested trees and render the timber almost worthless for the higher grade uses such as shingles, cooperage, doors, furniture, finishing, cabinetmaking, shipbuilding and other high grade products.” (Burke).

Modern uses for cedar such as utility poles, finished lumber or export wood continue to be compromised due to this insect, even though the strength of the wood is not always significantly reduced. Using infested wood for rough-sawn fencing may be an option, depending on the amount and visibility of the degradation.

Adult cedar borers are between 11 and 17 mm long (roughly 0.5 inches), bright emerald green with a golden sheen, and have several darker spots on the wing covers. While their life cycle is fairly straight forward, the signs of infestation are very difficult to spot. During May and June, adult beetles lay their eggs on the thin-barked upper surfaces of living branches of western red cedar. When the eggs hatch, the slender, grub-like larvae chew into the branches and tunnel toward and into the tree trunk. The larvae mine horizontally and vertically along the annual growth rings, but occasionally cross the grain. The tunnels are packed with wood colored boring dust. Tunnels are usually less than 6 meters (19 feet) long but can extend as far as 13 meters (42 feet)!

Adult western cedar borer.  Photo: S. Valley

Adult western cedar borer. Photo: S. Valley

Larvae require 2 to 3 plus years to reach maturity, then pupate inside a larger cell they have cut within the wood. Adult beetles chew out of the trees in early spring, feed on cedar foliage for several weeks, mate and lay eggs.

Infested trees appear normal and healthy, but they may have small, oblong exit holes where adult beetles have emerged. The main way to detect western cedar borer infestation is to cut off branches where they meet the trunk. If that part of the tree is infested, dust-packed larval mines may be seen in the exposed knot faces.

Although this insect is reputed to be associated with low elevation western red cedar, information about its specific occurrence is rare. There may be several closely related beetle species or subspecies present in the West, especially in drier forests where cedar gives way to cypress and juniper. Professional cedar log buyers may have key experience and local knowledge about the distribution and impacts of these cedar borers, but overall information is limited. An informal request for information resulted in a number of comments about host selection factors and distributions:

  • “We don’t see them rapidly moving. But once they are in a stand it seems they never leave.”
  • “The greatest infestations occurred where trees had been damaged by previous logging or storms. It was my conjecture that damaged or weakened trees were more susceptible.”
  • “It seems to be an increasing problem…some seem to think the recent below-average precipitation may play a role.”
  • “Eastern Washington and Idaho are essentially worm free in my experience.”
  • “Worm was not a problem on the Mt. Hood National Forest regardless of elevation, but from about Eugene south worms were very prevalent up to 3,000 feet; above 3,000 feet worms were generally not an issue in the Willamette National Forest. Worm on the lower elevation private timber lands in the Willamette Valley was common everywhere from Albany south.”
  • “In general worm has the greatest chance of occurring at low elevation.”
  • “Proximity to salt water was not always a predictor of worm. The Coos Bay area was very wormy, but from Newport north to Astoria worm was generally not a problem.”

I would like to gather as much information as possible in the hope of developing a research proposal or reporting system to better understand both historic and recent activity and infestation locations. If you have experience with “wormy cedar” on your property or through your forestry job, please contact me, Karen Ripley,, 360 902-1691. Thank you in advance for sharing your knowledge.

For more information see:

The Western Cedar Pole Borer or Powder Worm. H.E. Burke. USDA Technical Bulletin No. 48, February, 1928

Western Cedar Borer. R.W. Duncan. Forest Pest Leaflet No. 66. Pacific Forestry Centre, Canadian Forest Service. April 1995.

Timely Tree Tips — Drought Damage Dynamics

August 6, 2015

When the rainforest in Olympic National Park catches fire, you know that Washington is dry. However, increased fire risk is not the only summertime threat to trees and forests. Drought conditions can cause cell and tissue dieback in trees and can also give pests and diseases a leg up in the battle for forest health.

According to DNR’s recently published Forest Health Highlights in Washington–2014:

“Trees experiencing drought stress can become more susceptible to insect and disease attacks and are less likely to recover from damage. In eastern Washington, trees growing in dense or overstocked stands have a higher likelihood of experiencing drought stress.”

Trees in urban landscapes that may be disproportionately affected by drought are those that are newly planted, victims of root damage, or growing in tough planting sites that are heavily compacted, poorly irrigated, or space limited.

In some cases, such as with water-dependent diseases like Sudden Oak Death, drought can hinder the growth and spread of disease organisms. However, many pests and diseases are more resilient in drought conditions than their host tree species.

For example, bark beetles thrive on drought stressed trees. In recent years, pine bark beetle populations have been exploding throughout the western U.S. as a result of drought and other complicating factors. Many types of tree diseases may also worsen in drought conditions including root rots, cankers, and wilts such as Dutch Elm Disease.

Check out this recent story from King5 News about the effects of drought on Seattle’s elm tree population.

For more information on this topic, consider reviewing the following resources:

Dead Branches, Dead Tops & Dead Trees: The Interaction of Water Stress, Insects & Disease, From the Oregon Department of Forestry

Long-term Drought Effects on Trees and Shrubs, from the University of Massachusetts Extension




Register Today: Asset Management for Community Trees Seminar

August 6, 2015

The first two installments of the DNR Urban Forestry Program’s new seminar, “Asset Management for Community Trees,” held in Ellensburg and Chelan, were advertised directly by email to potential participants in those regions of the state. However, this approach was less effective than expected, prompting us to rethink our direct-email approach.

So, we’re taking this opportunity to announce an open registration process for any of the upcoming seminars. Simply send an email to and indicate which seminar you want to register for by listing the name of the host city (see below) and provide the name of your organization, as well as the first and last names of the individuals from your organization who wish to reserve a seat. We will confirm receipt of your email RSVP and follow up with specific event details 7-10 days in advance of each individual seminar.

Municipal staff are our target audience, however, other public employees, non-profit staff, and community volunteers are welcome to attend. No International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) continuing education units will be offered, but we are pursuing and intend to offer certification maintenance credits for American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP) planners.

This seminar will explore options for inventorying public trees, information-based strategies for managing your community forest, and tips on how to make the most of a tree inventory or similar type of natural resource assessment.

Each seminar will take place from approximately 9:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Seminars will be free of charge; however, all attendees must register in advance and provide their own lunches.

The following is a list of seminar dates with the host cities and associated regions for each one:

  • July 28: Vancouver; Southwest Washington
  • August 25: Poulsbo; Peninsula
  • August 27: Mount Vernon; Northwest Washington
  • September 15: Bellevue; Seattle Area
  • October 13: Tri Cities; Mid-Columbia
  • October 15: Spokane; Spokane Area

A sample agenda is as follows, though it is subject to change based on feedback from prior seminar events:

9:00-9:30: Attendees arrive

9:30-9:45: Welcome and introductions

9:45-10:15: Introduction to Asset Management for Trees

10:15-10:45: Tools and Technologies for Natural Resource Inventory

10:45-12:00: Field Exercise: Collecting Tree Inventory Data

12:00-12:30: Break for Lunch

12:30-1:00: What Data to Collect and Why

1:00-1:45: Making your Inventory Work for you

1:45-2:15: DNR Inventory Grants

2:15-2:30: Wrap-up

From the field: DNR and City of Tukwila Produce Tree Care Videos

August 6, 2015

In late 2014, the City of Tukwila submitted a Community Forestry Assistance Grant application to produce instructional videos about tree care for their city staff. Long story short, DNR funded the project and got involved as project participants. The end result was a collaboration between the City of Tukwila and DNR.

These videos were filmed and edited by Porterworks and produced by Puget Sound Access:

Tree Pruning 

Recognizing Tree Defects 

To view these and more videos from DNR about urban forestry, check out our urban forestry playlist on youtube.

Web-ucation: Links to Help You Learn

August 6, 2015

What happens when you give a tree it’s own email address?
The City of Melbourne, Australia, thought to give public trees their own email address, so that residents could send emails to report problems or work requests for specific trees. What happened instead turned out to be a lovely social experiment.

Washington Department of Ecology launches 2015 drought response website
DOE is working on drought relief in river basins in all four of Ecology’s regions. Ecology’s drought relief work has been focused on relieving hardships for farmers facing water shortages and working with the state Department of Fish & Wildlife in taking action now to prevent fish passage problems resulting from low stream flows. Learn more.

Urban vegetation is good for your health
The Green Cities: Good Health website offers summaries and links to peer-reviewed research citing the benefits of urban vegetation to public health. Or, if you’re more a visual learner, watch the video.

Support for U&CF from Washington’s Municipal Research and Services Center (MRSC)
Did you know that MRSC website has an entire page dedicated to urban forestry? Forward this link to others in your community as proof that many Washington cities have embraced urban forest management and that you’re not simply a kooky treehugger with an agenda.

Sustaining America’s Urban Trees and Forests
This 28-page report from the USDA Forest Service was published in 2010 and concisely summarizes the importance of, need for, and challenges associated with sustaining our urban forests. Think of it like a quick “urban forestry 101” with vivid images to support its themes.

The emerald ash borer is marching westward
Yikes! The emerald ash borer has decimated ash trees and urban forests throughout upper midwestern states and has recently been discovered in Colorado. Let’s hope it never makes it to Washington. In the meantime, you can prepare for this worst-case scenario by learning to assess your ash tree for signs of emerald ash borer from the Colorado State Extension Service.

City trees are threatened by string trimmers
If you need to teach others about how damaging lawn maintenance equipment can be to trees, this succinct little video from Portland’s Friends of Trees will do just the trick.

August Calendar of Events, Activities and Opportunities

August 6, 2015

August 25: First Annual Olympic Peninsula Urban Forestry Seminar: Asset Management for Community Trees

When: Tuesday, August 25; 9:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.

Where: Poulsbo, WA

Cost: This seminar will be free of charge however participants must RSVP in advance and provide their own lunches.

For more information or to RSVP for this seminar, contact

August 27: First Annual Northwest Washington Urban Forestry Seminar: Asset Management for Community Trees

When: Thursday, August 27; 9:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.

Where: Mount Vernon, WA

Cost: This seminar will be free of charge, however, participants must RSVP in advance and provide their own lunches

For more information or to RSVP for this seminar, contact

August 27-29: Farwest Show

When: Thursday, August 27 – Saturday, August 29

Where: Oregon Convention Center, Portland, OR

Additional information: Please visit

September 15: First Annual Seattle Area Urban Forestry Seminar: Asset Management for Community Trees

When: Tuesday, September 15; 9:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.

Where: Bellevue, WA

Cost: This seminar will be free of charge, however, participants must RSVP in advance and provide their own lunches

For more information or to RSVP for this seminar, contact

September 20-23: Pacific Northwest ISA Chapter Annual Training Conference: Forces of Change

When: Monday, September 20 – Wedneday, September 23

Where: Riverhouse Hotel and Convention Center, 3075 Hwy 97 Business Rte., Bend, OR 97701

Cost: Varies depending on membership status

For more information or to register, click here


October 13: First Annual Tri-Cities Urban Forestry Seminar: Asset Management for Community Trees

When: Tuesday, October 13; 9:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.

Where: Richland, WA

Cost: This seminar will be free of charge, however, participants must RSVP in advance and provide their own lunches

For more information or to RSVP for this seminar, contact

October 15: First Annual Spokane Area Urban Forestry Seminar: Asset Management for Community Trees

When: Thursday, October 15; 9:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.

Where: Spokane, WA

Cost: This seminar will be free of charge, however, participants must RSVP in advance and provide their own lunches

For more information or to RSVP for this seminar, contact