Skip to content

Coordinator’s Corner — March

March 10, 2017

It sure looks like spring on the west side of Washington state. Witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana) alerts us with its distinctive scent, which leads us to discover the unusual flowers such as snowdrops, camellias, hellebores and hazels that brighten the landscape.

With longer days, folks are inspired to tackle both inside and outside spring cleaning tasks. One that often comes to mind is pruning. Even as I gaze in appreciation of blooming forbs at this time of year, there are those moments when I stare aghast at, with a nod to the late Cass Turnbull, new cases of “tree torture.” In the arboriculture industry, we call the practice “topping,” but it is also called tipping, shaping or even hat-racking.

Any time a tree is cut, an open wound is created which the tree must grow around. Before the cut is sealed-off – or compartmentalized – wounds are exposed to pathogens that can lead to decay. It is important to be mindful when selecting branches to cut and to have a reason to cut them.

Unfortunately, I’ve seen plenty of flowering trees topped this spring. It is obvious that the cuts were not selective and undertaken for no other reason, perhaps, than it is spring and “the tree needs to be pruned.” How sad. Cherries, like many flowering trees, bear flowers on last year’s woody branches. When you prune branches on flowering trees at this time of year, you also prune off the flowers. In my opinion, the bright pink blossoms of cherry trees are the most the redeeming quality of the tree, which is otherwise prone to pests and diseases and has reputation for aggressive root systems that disrupt infrastructure.

There are some great online resources that can teach you how to prune the right way. For a short, quick summary of best practices, check out “How to Prune Trees” by our partners the US Forest Service. For a more comprehensive source, navigate to “Pruning shade trees in landscapes,” on the “Landscape Plants” website by Dr. Ed Gilman and the University of Florida.

We also offer pruning workshops for tree managers and staff.

See the article in this edition of tree link titled: Timely Tree Tips—The perils of early spring pruning.

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

Announcing 2017 Urban Forestry Grant Recipients

March 10, 2017

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 2017 grant recipients:

Applicant Project
City of Bremerton Parks & Recreation Forest Management Plan & Tree Inventory Update
City of Colville Yep Kanum Park Management and Maintenance Plan
City of Ritzville 2017 Damaged Tree Management – Structural Pruning
Town of Coulee Dam Urban Forest Management/Maintenance Plan
City of Pasco Urban Forest Mangement Plan
City of Sammamish Sammamish Canopy Cover Assessment Project
Tacoma Housing Authority Urban Forestry Management Plan Update
City of Spokane SpoCanopy Storm Recovery Tree Planting

CONGRATULATIONS to our 2017 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 website.

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

Congrats to our 2016 Tree–USA Partners!

March 10, 2017

There are 90 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 2016 Tree Campus USA Award from the Arbor Day Foundation. Congratulations to the re-certifying campuses: Clark College, Columbia Basin College, University of Puget Sound, University of Washington, Washington State University Main Campus (Pullman) and Washington State University Vancouver Campus. This year, we also have a new Tree Campus USA in Washington. Congratulations to Shoreline Community College.

Tree Line USA Awards:

Ten Washington utility companies have been awarded the 2016 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 Communities: Connell, Othello, Sequim and Yakima, and to the City of Twisp, which just returned to the Tree City USA program after a year-long hiatus. These 5 cities join 85 other Washington cities earning the award this year:

Congratulations to: Airway Heights, Anacortes, Arlington, Auburn, Bainbridge Island, Bellevue, Bellingham, Bonney Lake, Bothell, Bremerton, Burien, Cashmere, Centralia, Chelan, Cheney, Clyde Hill, Colfax, Colville, Coulee Dam, Covington, Dupont, Duvall, Edmonds, Ellensburg, Entiat, Enumclaw, Everett, Fairchild AFB, Farmington, Fife, George, Grandview, Hoquiam, Hunt’s Point, Issaquah, Kennewick, Kent, Kirkland, Lacey, Lake Forest Park, Liberty Lake, Longview, Lynnwood, Medina, Millwood, North Bend, Oak Harbor, Okanogan, Olympia, Omak, Oroville, Pasco, Pateros, Port Angeles, Port Townsend, Poulsbo, Pullman, Puyallup, Redmond, Renton, Richland, Ritzville, Rockford, SeaTac, Seattle, Shelton, Shoreline, Snoqualmie, Spokane, Steilacoom, Sumner, Tacoma, Tonasket, 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.

Timely Tree Tips — Perils of Early Spring Pruning

March 10, 2017

Spring is just around the corner, and with that comes the emergence of fresh green leaves and the bright blooms of flowering trees and shrubs.

In early spring–that is to say RIGHT NOW–trees are tapping energy reserves from the previous growing season to activate buds throughout the tree canopy. As the tree streams sap (energy) to the buds, those buds will begin to swell and unfurl into flowers, leaves, and new twigs.

This tree was topped at least once before and resprouted; fresh pruning cuts show where new sprouts were topped. Photo by Ben Thomspon/DNR

Trees require a lot of energy in spring to wake up from dormancy and get growing again. They cannot recoup the energy spent on spring growth until new leaves begin photosynthesizing and producing more food for the tree.

Whacking on your tree in early spring year after year can create a chronic energy deficit and either begin, or accelerate, a spiral of decline. Stress is compounded with each early spring pruning, making your tree more susceptible to other problems.

Early spring is precisely the wrong time of year to prune your trees. Pruning a tree in early spring before budbreak creates five challenges for a tree, all of which are avoidable by holding off with the pruners until later in the year:

  • It robs the tree of energy reserves that have already been used to prepare buds for spring growth.
  • It removes buds that will become leaves, a tree’s food factory, undermining the tree’s ability to recoup lost energy.
  • It may remove flower buds that will become flowers, which not only reduces colorful, fragrant blossoms, but will also decrease fruit produced by a fruit trees.
  • Spring pruning may damage bark through a greater propensity for bark to tear or ‘slip’ at this time of year while sap is rising, especially on young trees.
  • Related to this, sap is rising under high hydraulic pressures and pruning wounds will tend to ‘weep’ more, which may attract fungal and bacterial diseases as well as insects, creating potential pest and disease problems.

This cherry tree will not produce many blooms as a result of improper pruning in early spring. Photo by Ben Thompson/DNR

All of these issues can be made far worse through improper pruning practices such as topping, flush cuts or severe over-pruning.

So relax. Watch the luscious leaves unfurl and expand in all the shades of green. Enjoy the profusion of glorious blossoms. Take in the lovely scents of spring as they rise to meet the warming days. Once the petals have floated to the ground and leaves are in full production mode, then it’s time to break out the pruning tools.

…unless of course you want fruit from your tree. In that case you’ll need to wait until after the harvest.

And if you really enjoy the way trees transform in Spring, then go plant one… think of it as a do-over for all of those poorly pruned trees out there!

New Seminar for 2017: Cultivating Resilient Communities

March 10, 2017

“Cultivating Resilient Communities”

Community trees and greenspaces provide tremendous benefits. Negative impacts on natural systems have consequences for the safety, health and welfare of communities. A new seminar, “Cultivating Resilient Communities,” will explore the many strategies that communities can use to resist, withstand and recover from storms and other landscape-scale threats to their urban forests.

This seminar, developed by the Washington State Department of Natural Resources Urban & Community Forestry Program, will focus on how to manage urban trees for increased resilience in the face of threats and challenges. It will also explore how community-wide stewardship of natural resources can help promote a broader sense of environmental, economic and social resilience.



Topics discussed will include:

  • How urban and community forests are threatened by natural and man-made events
  • Connections between natural resource stewardship and community health and welfare
  • Dimensions of risk in the urban forest
  • Planning principles behind community readiness, response and recovery
  • Management strategies to improve resilience of community trees and forests
  • Contributions of citizens, volunteers, non-profits and other organizations to community resilience

The seminar is free to attend.

To reserve a seat at an upcoming 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 might wish to attend.

Join us at this no-cost seminar to learn more about managing your community trees and forests for maximum benefit. At this time the following dates of upcoming seminars may be subject to change:

Poulsbo: Wednesday, May 10th, 8:30-12:00

Richland: Wednesday, June 21st, 8:30-12:00

Bellevue: Wednesday, July 19th, 8:00-11:30

Spokane: Wednesday, August 16th, 8:30-12:00

Mount Vernon: Wednesday, September 13th,  8:30-12:00

Olympia: Wednesday, October 4th, 8:30-12:00

Wenatchee: Thursday, October 26th, 8:30-12:00

Vancouver: This seminar is yet to be scheduled

Arbor Day is on the Way…

March 10, 2017

Arbor Day is a celebration of trees and all the great things they do for us here in the Evergreen State. Washington State Arbor Day is always celebrated on the second Wednesday in April, and this year, April 12 is proclaimed Arbor Day by Governor Jay Inslee.

However, Arbor Day is more than just a celebration of trees. It’s a celebration of responsible natural resource management.

Salmon streams that DNR protects in native forestlands flow out of the foothills, across the landscape and ultimately through one or more of Washington’s cities. Urban areas are where streams, shellfish beds and fragile nearshore habitats are most threatened by stormwater runoff, erosion and sedimentation, toxic pollutants, low oxygen levels and climate fluctuations.

Trees, however, are erosion reducers, pollution mitigators, water purifiers, climate stabilizers and carbon sinks. The practice of forestry in cities offers practical, low-cost, natural resource-based solutions to many environmental problems that affect our daily lives in Washington. Planting a tree in a city is an act of restoration. Caring for urban trees is an act of stewardship. Cultivating an urban forest is natural resource management.

Sixty percent of Washingtonians live in an incorporated municipality, and approximately 90 percent of the state’s population lives in an area identified as “urban” by the 2010 census. There are 86 Tree City USA Communities in Washington and nearly 50 percent of Washington’s population lives in a Tree City USA.

Tree City USA is a national award from the Arbor Day Foundation that recognizes cities and towns for making a commitment to plant, protect and maintain their trees. At DNR we celebrate Arbor Day in partnership with local communities across the state that have earned the Tree City USA® award. Find out if your city is a Tree City USA, as there may be special programs to celebrate trees in your community this month.

If your city isn’t part of the Tree City USA Program, contact your city officials to help them plan Arbor Day celebrations next year. Sponsored by the Arbor Day Foundation in cooperation with the US Forest Service and the National Association of State Foresters, Tree City USA® provides technical assistance and national recognition for urban and community forestry programs in thousands of towns and cities.

But you don’t have to live in a Tree City to celebrate Arbor Day. Many cities and towns provide opportunities for the public to help plant trees, pull invasive weeds or clean-up park lands during the spring season. Contact your city officials to find out what they have going on.

Coordinator’s Corner — February

February 10, 2017

Groundhogs don’t have the best reputation as accurate predictors of spring, but if Punxsutawney Phil was here on February 2, he would have been credited with an accurate forecast for our region this year. After growing up and spending most of my life in snow country, four inches of the white stuff hardly seems like a snow-pocalypse, but four inches is kind of a big deal here in Olympia. Residents and communities on the ‘wet’ side of the state are just not fully prepared to handle such ‘big’ snow falls.

Planning is a big part of preparation, which is why we encourage communities to think ahead and plan for major events that might have a negative effect on trees. Winter storms are inevitable in the Pacific Northwest, and when trees or branches fall, blocking streets and causing power outages, it’s good to have a plan in place in order to speed recovery. Having a plan, then acting on it to recover losses and restore assets is a big part of community resiliency.

How do you create a resilient urban forest? As it turns out, the DNR Urban and Community Forest Program is offering workshops throughout the state on just that topic this year. “Cultivating Resilient Communities” will focus on how to build better urban forest resilience in the face of threats and challenges. Keep an eye on the Tree Link in the coming months for more information about these seminars.

Here’s one secret to increase urban forest resiliency: always use best management practices. As weather improves and spring emerges, many folks grab the pruning shears and head out the door. Trees do not necessarily need to be pruned just because it is spring. Pruning should be done with a goal in mind, and done properly. Every pruning cut is a wound to which a tree must physiologically respond. Pruning cuts done according to best practice standards help a tree respond quickly to grow over a wound. Topping is not pruning. Please, do not top trees!

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