Skip to content

Coordinator’s Corner — October

October 10, 2016

October is proclaimed by Governor Inslee as Urban and Community Forestry Month in Washington. This month, we pause to recognize the social, economic and environmental values trees provide to communities, plus we dig in the dirt a bit as we add new trees to the landscape.

Fall is a great time to plant, whether it is a single tree in the landscape or hundreds in urban natural areas. You can find events throughout the state, if you’d like to join a planting party.

One event will be held in Spokane on Oct. 18. The city will be planting 40 trees to celebrate October as Urban and Community Forestry Month, commemorate the 40th anniversary of the national Tree City USA program, recognize the excellent urban forestry program in Spokane, add to the number of trees in “the Susie Forest” and to help the city, in part, to recover from the large number of trees lost during last winter’s devastating wind storm.

Funding for the 40-tree planting project is through a grant from the DNR Urban and Community Forestry Program in cooperation with the U.S. Forest Service.

Morton barn

Historic Morton Barn, Arbor Day Farm, Nebraska City, NE. Photo: Ben Thompson.

Grant Offerings

October is the month we announce requests for proposals for urban forestry grants. This year, we are offering two funding opportunities for 2017; the Tree City USA Tree Planting and Maintenance Grant and the Community Forestry Assistance Grant.

The Community Forestry Assistance Grant provides funding for tree management in communities, particularly targeting those with recent tree inventory data. Funding is for the development of or updates to a city tree ordinance, long-term tree management plans, or short and long-range maintenance plans.

We’ve offered tree planting grants in the past, but this is the first year we have offered maintenance grants for structural, health, or recovery tree pruning. Because Tree City USA-designated communities are actively managing trees, the grant is open only to these communities or to communities who apply to become a Tree City in 2016.

In addition to the larger grants, we still have Tree City USA Arbor Day Grants available. These small ($500) grants are intended to help your community purchase a nice landscape tree for your fall Arbor Day celebration. Find more information about these grants on our webpage.

Application Portal

October is also the month that the online Tree City USA application portal is open. You can start your re-application any time now. If you are applying for the first time, then you’ll need to follow the prompts from the portal to establish a username and password first.  If your community is interested in submitting a first-time Tree City USA application in order to be eligible for grant funding, please contact us at or call one of the urban forestry staff (listed in the side bar under contacts).

Best wishes for a tree-ly fantastic October!

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

Participate in Urban and Community Forestry Month

October 10, 2016

Fall is a wonderful time in Washington as our trees and forests reveal the natural magic of their fall colors. Washington’s native deciduous trees, such as bigleaf maple, cottonwood, aspen, birch and the western larch, specialize in shades of yellow fall colors, whereas our urban forests, planted with many non-native trees, paint our cities and towns with hues of orange, red and purple that stir the human spirit.

Trees in our communities are living, breathing assets that make our cities healthier, cleaner, and more vibrant. A healthy tree canopy scrubs the air of pollutants, absorbs stormwater runoff, attenuates noise, buffers winds, conserves energy, provides wildlife habitat and beautifies the landscape.

For all that trees do for us, it’s only fitting that we return the favor. Washington’s urban forests need our help to keep them healthy and now is a great time to do so.

Plant trees now – you don’t want to miss out on the fall color. Photo: Janet Pearce/DNR

October has been officially proclaimed as Urban and Community Forestry Month by Governor Jay Inslee for the fourth consecutive year. His proclamation encourages all Washingtonians to reflect on the value of community trees and appreciate their many benefits. But of course, actions speak louder than words.

Here are a few suggestions on how you and your family can celebrate Urban and Community Forestry Month and give back to the trees and forests where you live:

  • Remove invasive species – plants such as English ivy, Himalayan blackberry, morning glory, scotchbroom and others are considered invasive because they “invade” natural areas by seeding in and outgrowing native vegetation. Invasive plants are damaging to native ecosystems and should be removed. Consider removing invasive plants from your home landscape or contact your local jurisdiction to find out about volunteer opportunities to remove invasive plants from natural areas near you.
  • Mulch leaves – did you know that leaf litter is part of Mother Nature’s recycling system? It’s true! Fallen leaves add organic material and essential nutrients back to the soil as they break down and decay. Rather than removing and disposing of your leaves, consider composting them for re-use as organic mulch and fertilizer for your garden. Or, mow your lawn more frequently. Mulch as many of them into your lawn as possible before having to rake up and remove the rest.
  • Hire an ISA Certified Arborist – if your trees haven’t been properly pruned in a while then you might want to enlist the services of an ISA Certified Arborist. A certified arborist is well-versed in tree worker safety standards, industry best practices for tree care and the science behind how landscape trees grow and thrive. Properly maintained trees are healthier, more resilient to storm damage and will live longer.
  • Plant trees – autumn is the perfect season to plant trees in Washington state thanks to cool days and the return of rainy weather. Many cities hold tree planting events in the fall or you can simply visit your local nursery and purchase a new tree for your yard. Be sure to size up your planting site first and then select a tree with a mature size and other features that are well-matched to the location.

However you choose to participate in urban and community forestry month, keep us posted, and tag us with #UrbanForestryMonth on twitter.

DNR sponsors Urban and Community Forestry Month in Washington state as part of its effort to provide technical support, advice and encouragement to community forestry programs in cities and towns across the state.

For more tips and ideas, visit DNR’s Urban and Community Forestry Program which operates with support from the US Forest Service.

Announcing the 2017 Urban & Community Forestry Grants!

October 10, 2016

The DNR Urban & Community Forestry Program is pleased to announce our grant program for 2017. There are two big changes to the grants this year: 1) Inventory grants will not be offered; and, 2) the Tree City USA Tree Planting Grants have been expanded to include maintenance projects.

This year’s urban and community forestry grants are available in two categories:

  • Community Forestry Assistance (CFA) Grants (download the RFP and Grant Application)
    • Community Forestry Assistance grants provide financial assistance to communities to help develop powerful, sustainable urban forestry programs. The intent of this grant is to assist communities to develop urban forest planning and programming tools and activities that may not otherwise receive local funding.
    • Acceptable projects shall focus on programmatic development, including urban forestry management plans, maintenance plans based on current tree inventory data (performed or updated within the last 5 years), urban forestry strategic plans, or other critical management components.
    • Community Forestry Assistance grant awards will be up to $15,000 per community. A 1:1 match (in-kind or financial) is required.
    • Community Forestry Assistance Grants are available to tribal governments, educational institutions, and local governments such as cities, towns, and counties in Washington state.
  • Tree City USA Tree Planting & Maintenance Grants (download the RFP and Grant Application)
    • The 2016 Tree City USA Tree Planting and Maintenance Grants support communities working to improve and enhance tree canopy cover as a component of a comprehensive urban and community forestry management program.
    • Grant awards will be up to $15,000 per community. A 1:1 match (in-kind or financial) is required.
    • Proposed projects should be based on an overall vision of enhancing community canopy coverage, sustaining and enhancing the community as a livable place, and developing an extensive, thriving urban forest that provides multiple aesthetic, social, ecological, and environmental benefits.
    • Applicants’ proposed projects must fit into one of the following three categories:
      • Replace trees lost to natural events;
      • Prune trees to restore the health and structural stability of trees within the urban forest.  All pruning must be by an arborist certified by the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA); or
      • Demonstration tree planting projects.
    • Tree Planting and Maintenance Grants are available only to Washington cities and towns that have earned the Tree City USA Award or those communities actively pursuing the Tree City USA designation with intention to apply for Tree City USA status in December 2016. (Please contact the Grant Coordinator if you plan to apply for this designation.) Nonprofit organizations, educational institutions, or tribal governments may apply in partnership with TCUSA communities.

The Community Forestry Assistance Grants are available to tribal governments, educational institutions, 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations and local governments such as cities, towns, and counties in Washington state.  The Tree City USA Tree Planting and Maintenance Grants are only available to Washington cities and towns that have earned the Tree City USA Award or to communities that are actively pursuing the Tree City USA designation and intend to apply for Tree City USA status in December 2016.

Grants are due by 4:00 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 8, 2016. Please contact the Urban & Community Forestry Program Manager, Linden Lampman at 360-902-1703 or for any questions about the 2017 applications.

POLL: 2017 Urban Forestry Seminar Topic

October 10, 2016

The 2016 Community Trees Seminar, “Quality Trees, Quality Cities” has been a success in seven Washington cities so far this year, and there is just one remaining seminar planned in Wenatchee on Oct. 27, 2016.

We’re now planning a new seminar in 2017 and have developed a short list of potential topics. Whether you’ve participated in one of our past seminars or would like to attend a future one, please vote for the topic that you would most like to see offered in 2017. Each respondent may select up to two options.

Other details, such as the dates and locations of 2017 seminars, are yet to be determined. The 2017 seminars will be formally advertised no later than March 1, 2017. Keep an eye on the TreeLink for updates and announcements.

For questions about this poll or the community tree seminars in general, contact us at

Timely Tree Tips – Tree Crown Shape

October 10, 2016

As children, we learn that square pegs don’t fit in round holes and the same principle applies to selecting trees. Trees have a wide variety of canopy shapes and sizes; however, there are some general crown shapes we can identify.

Most conifer trees, for example, are described as having a pyramidal shape—think Christmas trees! Pin oak, linden and Turkish filbert are deciduous trees also known for their pyramidal shape when young; as older trees, their canopies become broader and more rounded at the top.

Here are some other general canopy/crown shapes, with familiar trees to illustrate them:

  • Rounded: Trees with this crown shape have a rounded look resembling a ball or a gum drop. Many crabapple trees exhibit this shape. American hornbeam and hedge maple are other great examples.
  • Upright Oval: Similar to rounded crowns, trees with oval-shaped canopies have shorter side branching which gives a more oval silhouette. Birch, southern magnolia, and white ash tend to have oval-shaped crowns.
  • shade tree

    Deciduous shade tree with a nearly perfect oval-shaped crown. Photo by Linden Lampman.

    Columnar: These trees have upright canopies with relatively short side branches of uniform length, making the tree tall and narrow, like a column. Columnar trees have become very popular for narrow planting areas and many species are now available in columnar forms. Armstrong maple is one of the most popular columnar trees available.

  • V or Vase: Elms and zelkovas are the most common trees with upright V-shaped crowns. A vase-shaped crown is made up of limbs that spread upwards and outwards from their point of attachment to the trunk, like a V.
  • Weeping: The weeping willow has captured our hearts and minds thanks to its unique growth habit. So compelling is this form that horticulturalists have developed weeping cultivars of tree species that rarely, if ever, would develop a weeping habit in nature. These days there are weeping cherries, birches, katsuratrees, and even weeping pines, hemlocks and spruces.
  • Spreading: Spreading crowns are typically much wider than tall. This crown shape is far more common among shorter, often multi-stemmed trees. Our native vine maple, as well as many Japanese maple cultivars and many dogwood species have spreading crowns.
  • Free Form: Trees lacking a symmetrical shape like those listed above are often referred to as having ‘irregular’ crowns. This term implies there is something wrong or undesirable about the tree, but in fact, there are some really cool trees with, shall we say, ‘free form’ crown shapes: sourwood, Kentucky coffeetree, and American smoketree are noteworthy trees in this category.

When selecting a tree to plant, imagine the size and shape of the mature tree crown and make sure it will function in the space you have. Keep in mind that tree canopies often change shape naturally as they mature. Trees with weeping or spreading forms make poor street trees because they don’t allow for good traffic and sign clearance, whereas columnar, oval, or vase-shaped trees may be more appropriate for the roadside environment.

Let’s all be planting the right (shaped) trees in the right (shaped) places!

Here are more resources to learn about tree canopy shapes:

The University of Tennessee: A palette of tree canopy forms

Better Homes and Gardens: Selecting trees by shape

The Arbor Day Foundation: The right tree in the right place shape guide

“Quality Trees, Quality Cities” Coming to Wenatchee

October 10, 2016

Special note: don’t forget to vote for the subject of DNR’s 2017 Community Trees Seminar in this edition of the Tree Link! 

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.

DNR’s 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.

Join us in Wenatchee on Thursday, Oct. 27, 8:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at this no-cost seminar to learn more about managing your community trees and forests for maximum benefit.

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. 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 Friday, Oct. 21, 2016. Multiple reservations may be made in one message; please include all names and titles of the attendees in the body of your message.

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

Please contact me if you have questions or concerns.

Ben Thompson

Urban Forestry Specialist

Washington State Department of Natural Resources


Coordinator’s Corner — September

September 9, 2016

We’re turning the corner into fall and trees are starting to prepare for their annual display of the amazing colors we look for in autumn. Are you prepared for fall? Here are a couple of things to remember:

October is Urban and Community Forestry Month in Washington. Since that is only a month away, now is a good time to start planning for tree planting or other events that celebrate trees in your community.

Tree City USA applications are due on December 1, but it isn’t too early to start your online recertification application. If you are ready to apply for the designation, you can get started by checking out the four standards, and then giving us a call with any questions you might have. If your city hasn’t proclaimed or celebrated Arbor Day this year, which is one of the four standards, there is still time.

The Washington Community Forestry Council meets on October 19 in Spokane, Washington. The day before the meeting, October 18, the City of Spokane will host a special tree planting event to commemorate the 40th anniversary of Arbor Day Foundation’s Tree City USA program by planting 40 trees. Spokane, a Tree City since 2003, is an appropriate place to celebrate. When a huge storm ripped through the area late last year, the city was able to account for most of the public trees that were lost during the event by consulting their tree inventory records. The city forester selected three small parks in a neighborhood that lost a significant number of trees, where 40 trees will be planted. Funding for the special project is through a grant from DNR UCF in partnership with the US Forest Service.

The 2016 Partners in Community Forestry Conference is scheduled for November 16 and 17 in Indianapolis. Sure, it’s a long way from Washington, but it is two days of collaboration and idea-sharing for those of us looking for new ways to strengthen and grow our community forests.

Here’s looking forward to a great season for trees in Washington!

by Linden Lampman, program manager, coordinator, DNR Urban & Community Forest Program