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Quote of the Month — March

March 10, 2015
photo by: Keith Salveson

photo by: Keith Salveson

“May brooks and trees and singing hills join in the chorus too, and every gentle wind that blows send happiness to you.”


~An Irish blessing

Coordinator’s Corner — Happy PLAN-ting this Spring

March 10, 2015

March is said to come in like a lion and go out like a lamb; followed by ‘April showers (which) bring May flowers.’ At DNR’s Urban and Community Forestry Program, April showers bring Arbor Day celebrations, and plenty of them. We start planning in March and roar into April events that celebrate Washington state’s Tree City USA (TCUSA) communities. The TCUSA designation recognizes community and citizen efforts to plant and grow sustainable urban and community forestry programs. We welcome three new Tree Cities this year, for a total of 86 state-wide: Port Angeles, Farmington and Coulee Dam (the town of Coulee Dam was formerly a Tree City and has come back into the fold). Congratulations!

TCUSA communities are eligible for $500 reimbursable grants and larger tree planting grants during our grant cycle, (typically announced in October). We know that communities committed to an urban and community forestry program will plan (to select and site the right tree in the right place), plant (using current best management practices), maintain (during establishment), and manage trees for the long term.

Want to learn more about the benefits of becoming a  Tree City USA or how to grow a tree management program in your community? Visit Arbor Day Foundation’s website or call one of our community forestry specialists.

You can check out this year’s grant recipients on our grant resources web page.

Happy spring, happy plan-ting.

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

Announcing 2015 Urban Forestry Grant Recipients

March 10, 2015

This year, the Washington State Department of Natural Resources’ Urban & Community Forestry Program, working in partnership with the USDA Forest Service, is pleased to announce our 2015 grant recipients in the following three categories:

Community Forestry Assistance Grants

# Applicant Project Purpose
1 City Fruit Save Seattle’s Apples To educate others on the value of Seattle’s locally grown fruit.
2 City of Blaine Downtown Tree-Scape Strategic Planning A redesign and strategic approach to managing downtown street trees
3 City of Lacey Parks and Recreation Department Pleasant Glade Park Forest Management Plan To prepare a forest management plan for Pleasant Glade Park.
4 City of Spokane Urban Forestry Urban Forest Management Plan To develop an urban forest management plan for the City of Spokane.
5 Clark College Clark College Arboretum Signage Project To replace campus Arboretum plant signs and posts.
6 Plant Amnesty No Place for Old Trees To educate decision makers about the value of trees.

Tree Inventory Grants

# Applicant Project Name
1 City of Oak Harbor Oak Harbor Tree Inventory
2 Whitworth University Whitworth University Tree Inventory
3 Seattle Parks and Recreation Seattle Parks Tree Inventory
4 City of Kirkland Kirkland Parks Tree Inventory
5 Town of Hunts Point Tree Inventory and Management Plan
6 Town of Coulee Dam Coulee Dam Tree Inventory
7 City of Auburn Parks, Arts & Recreation Department Auburn Parks Tree Inventory
8 City of Colfax City of Colfax Tree Inventory
9 Town of Beaux Arts Tree Inventory and Management Plan
10 City of Tacoma City of Tacoma Facility Inventory

Tree Planting Grants

# Applicant Project Purpose
1 Bremerton Parks and Recreation Department Evergreen Rotary Shoreline Enhancement Planting 30 trees along  the Bremerton waterfront
2 City of Colfax Colfax Railroad Reclamation Project (Phase 1) Installing bioswales and planting trees in former railroad property improve water quality
3 City of Richland By-Pass Park Tree Replacement Planting 46 trees in Richland’s Bypass Shelterbelt Park

CONGRATULATIONS to our 2015 grant recipients, and thank you to everyone who submitted an application this year. We look forward to successful completion of all our funded projects.

More information on DNR’s Urban and Community Forestry Program (UCF) grant opportunities can be found on our grant resources page.

If you have questions about our grant process or wish to learn more, please contact us at: 360-902-1703 or 360-902-1330.

2015 Arbor Day Tree Reimbursements Available

March 10, 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. Download the 2015 reimbursement form.

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.

Urban Forestry Restoration Project: How does your forest grow?

March 10, 2015

One of the ways that the Urban Forestry Restoration Project (UFRP) differs from traditional grant programs is that it doesn’t ask for a cash match; instead, a commitment match is required. That commitment is demonstrated through the development of a three-year maintenance and monitoring plan for each project site.

Maintenance and monitoring plans help communities think about what happens next after the UFRP crews have completed their work. By providing a template and technical assistance, the UFRP helps communities acquire the tools to work as effectively as possible. The goal is ensure that urban trees and forests are healthy, safe so they can provide the benefits and services that are so important to all of us.

Trees are often planted with great fanfare and excitement—then what? Who will water them? Prune them? Mulch them? Remove the stakes? Similarly, once English ivy and Himalayan blackberry have been removed from forested greenspace, how do we keep them out? Who will check for regrowth? How much regrowth should be allowed before action is taken? Who will make the decision and who will do the work? If trees were pruned for structure, when will they next be pruned? Will a pruning cycle be established? When will the trees be inspected and by whom? These are among the questions that a maintenance plan should address.

A key consideration are the resources such as staff, volunteers, funding, and so on, that are available to tackle the various maintenance and aftercare tasks. The UFRP provides a template to help guide the development of the plan, but only the community itself can determine how much can be done, how to go about it, and who should be responsible. Having a plan helps keep energy focused on critical tasks so that scarce resources can be used most efficiently and effectively.

All maintenance plans should include a monitoring component to determine the success—or failure—of current practices. The UFRP template incorporates a monitoring program that sets simple benchmarks and evaluates the site against them on a regular basis and in a consistent fashion. Each community must develop its own benchmarks, taking into consideration the needs of the site and the resources at hand. Annual monitoring helps determine whether ongoing work is effective, and if not, what steps should be taken to revise both short-term care and long-term planning to improve success. Monitoring results are reported to DNR annually for three years to demonstrate continued commitment to the project site.

The application form, three-year plan and annual monitoring report form the basis for adaptive management specific to individual UFRP project sites. These tools are baby steps toward full-stride urban forestry management planning that proactively manages trees rather than reactively dashing from crisis to crisis.

The UFRP maintenance and monitoring plan is designed to help communities

  • Determine next steps after the UFRP crews have completed their work.
  • Prioritize work to ensure effective use of limited resources.
  • Evaluate the impact of maintenance efforts, and revise them as necessary for greater success.
  • Justify expenditures through documented results.
  • Report site successes to DNR—and the broader community.

Learn more about the Urban Forestry Restoration Project

A Tree to Try — Japanese Pagodatree (a schooling on this scholarly specimen)

March 10, 2015

Japanese Pagodatree, Styphnobilobum japonicum 

S japonicum

A mature japanese pagodatree in the landscape

Looking for a tough, unusual tree to diversify your urban forest? One with character and multi-season interest? Give the Japanese pagodatree, sometimes called the Chinese scholar-tree, a look. Japanese pagodatree has been extensively planted near temples and shrines in eastern Asia for centuries. It is native to China and Korea, but—oddly enough, considering both its common and botanic names—not Japan. The tree was introduced to the western nursery trade in 1747.

Those of us who know the tree as Sophora japonica should be aware that botanists have recently renamed the tree  Styphnolobium japonicum to differentiate it from trees of the genus Sophora. The roots of Sophora species form associations with soil bacteria to fix nitrogen like most members of the Fabaceae family. Recent scientific studies, however, show that Japanese pagodatree is one of the few trees in the extensive Fabaceae family that does not fix nitrogen in the soil. Who knew?

The Japanese pagodatree produces large, very showy panicles of creamy white pea-like flowers over several weeks in mid to late summer, a time when most other flowering trees are done with their show. Dark green compound leaves provide dappled shade through summer, becoming yellow in fall. Bark develops a rugged look similar to oak as the tree matures, offering winter interest. Bean-like pods are 3 to 8 inches long, and are retained on the tree through winter, an additional seasonal texture. The roots tend to be fibrous and deep, unlikely to affect nearby hardscape.

S japonicum_bloom

Blooms on Japanese pagodatree

Japanese pagodatree is not fussy about soil or water, and is not susceptible to common pests and diseases. Like many trees, it performs best in locations with full sun and moist, well-drained soils although it will withstand heat, drought, compacted soils and pollution once established. No matter where you live in Washington, the pagodatree is an excellent street tree candidate where there is enough space for full canopy development. Young pagdoatrees do have a reputation for ‘floppy’, non-upright leaders, however a little firm pruning discipline will help young trees develop good structure to prevent this. Recently developed cultivars such as ‘Regent’ express less of this tendency.

This lovely tree achieves a round-headed silhouette approximately 45 feet in height and about the same in spread, depending on the cultivar. Commonly available cultivars include Millstone (S. japonicum ‘Halka’); Regent; Pendula, a weeping form; and Princeton Upright, a compact upright form. The combination of urban hardiness and a wide range of genetic variation in the species suggests this tree deserves further study to develop desirable forms for urban planting locations.

Channel your inner scholar by including this very distinctive and handsome tree in your next planting project!

POLL RESULTS: Training Needs in your Community

March 10, 2015

Recently we’ve asked our Tree Link readers:

“Which of the following topics is most needed for education and training in your community?” 

Poll respondents selected one of the following statements as their answer (poll results by percentage in parentheses):

1. Proper pruning, including anti-tree topping messages (35%)

2. Tree selection and planting (19%)

3. The benefits of trees (14%)

4. Tree risk assessment and management (12%)

5. Tree protection on development sites (10%)

6. Tree or plant identification, including invasive species identification (10%)

The intent of this poll was to find out what topics Tree Link readers feel are most needed for education and training in their communities.

Poll results show that classes and stronger messages about proper tree pruning are overwhelmingly in demand, and are perhaps the most important topic to address for the health of trees in our cities and towns. Tree selection and planting comes in a distant second; however, at 19% this topic is still several percentage points above the next most selected topic, ‘benefits of trees’, at 14%.

Tree identification, tree protection during development, and tree risk assessment came in at the bottom, comprising only 32% of the total vote. Perhaps this is because we often rely on consultants and other experts to deal with these types of issues, whereas tree pruning, tree selection, and tree planting are more familiar or more accessible activities for the average resident. Pruning, selection, and planting may also have been the most popular topics because many tree problems can be avoided if we properly plant the right trees in the right places, and keep them properly pruned as they grow.

Regardless, proper tree pruning, tree selection, and tree planting are the topics that cannot be emphasized enough. If you’re concerned about the fate of trees where you live, please pull up a soap box and join us as we continue to harp on these tried-and-true messages in urban forestry:

  • Don’t top trees!
  • Hire an ISA certified arborist
  • Plant and prune trees according to best practices and industry standards
  • Purchase high-quality nursery stock  
  • Plant the right tree in the right place

Thank you for participating in the Tree Link polls.

Do you have a suggestion for Tree Link (or a relevant question with which we can poll our readers)? If so, please send an email to

Timely Tree Tips – Tree Selection

March 10, 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!). In the previous edition of Timely Tree Tips, we talked about evaluating planting sites; this month we’ll explore the two components of tree selection.

There is no such thing as a “perfect tree” that can exactly match the specific conditions of each planting site. However, we can avoid many tree-related issues in the urban landscape by planning before we plant and making informed decisions about what to plant, where, and why.

1. Selecting a species of tree

young street trees

Young, well-located street trees in Olympia, WA. Photo by DNR

Any tree species that you choose to plant should be hardy where you live and capable of tolerating seasonal variations in your local weather and climate. What hardiness zone are you in?

You should also make sure that the tree you plant is not classified as a noxious weed in Washington state. Noxious weeds are invasive plant species that can naturalize in native ecosystems.

Assuming you’ve done your homework to evaluate your location first, the conditions of your planting site should translate into criteria for selecting a species of tree. Always select your planting site FIRST, and select a tree compatible with that site SECOND, and not vice-a-versa.

The environmental tolerances, growth form, and other characteristics of the species you select should be compatible with the conditions of your site. In the industry, we promote this as “planting the right tree in the right place.”

Please check out the following links for more information on tree selection:

2. Selecting an individual specimen from the nursery

Once you’ve decided on a planting site and have figured out what tree you want to plant there, the next step is actually purchasing the tree. It is worth your time and money to invest in a healthy, high-quality specimen, as this will save you some time and money in the future.

High-quality nursery stock trees will establish more quickly in the landscape and have lower potential for developing other problems as they grow. Poor-quality trees, on the other hand, may struggle to establish in the landscape, are more likely to experience health problems into the future, and will probably require more costly maintenance and care.

Fortunately, the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) has worked with green industry professionals to develop standards for nursery stock, known as the ANSI z.60, American Standard for Nursery Stock.

The following links are other good resources for selecting high-quality nursery stock:


Now go forth this spring and plant the right (high-quality) trees in the right places!

Tree Inventory “Brown Bag” Series in 2015

March 10, 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 inventory.

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 April edition of Tree Link.

Web-ucation: Links to Help You Learn

March 10, 2015

Green cities can improve the health of people, scientists say
Research into the public health benefits of urban greenery has been on the rise in recent years. This article does a nice job summarizing just a few of examples of research outcomes.

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 U.S. 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.”

March Calendar of Events, Activities and Opportunities

March 10, 2015

March 26: Structural Pruning of Young Trees

When: 9:00 am – 4:00 pm, Thursday, March 26th

Where: Christianson’s Greenhouse and Nursery, 15806 Best Road , Mount Vernon, WA 98273

Cost: Varies depending on ISA membership status

For more information:

March 27: Tree Growth & Development: What Arborists Need to Know

When: 8:30 am – 3:30 pm, Friday, March 27th, 2015

Where: UW Botanical Gardens Center for Urban Horticulture, 3501 NE 41st Street ,Seattle, WA 98195

Cost: Varies depending on ISA membership status

More information