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Wildfire Awareness Month; Are You Ember Aware?

May 15, 2017

Is your home vulnerable to embers from wildland fire?

DNR is asking all everyone in Washington state to participate in Wildfire Awareness Month.

Washington’s theme for 2017 is Be Ember Aware, because the most common reason that homes burn in wildfires is not from flames but because falling embers ignited something on or near the home. Residents can take simple steps to increase their home’s chances of survival without fire department intervention by:

 

  • Cleaning out gutters, roofs and other areas where leaves, pine needles and other debris has settled
  • Keeping the space around your home clear of dense vegetation, and a creating a 5-foot wide barrier strip of rock, stone or gravel about your home’s perimeter
  • Covering vents with 1/8-inch wire mesh or installing ember-resistant vents

Embers can travel over a mile

In 2015, Washington state experienced its largest wildfire season ever, when more than one million acres burned across the state. The first major incident of that fire season was the Sleepy Hollow Fire in Wenatchee, which started on June 28. Not only did the fire destroy 29 homes, but its embers spread the fire to buildings more than a mile away.

With the Sleepy Hollow Fire in mind, prepare around your home with steps from the Firewise Communities Program at www.firewise.org. Studies show that as many as 80 percent of homes lost to wildland fire may have been saved if brush around the homes had been cleared and defensible space created around structures.

During May, we are providing additional tips and steps that residents can take. For more information, follow DNR on social media: Twitter @waDNR_fire or Facebook https://www.facebook.com/Washington-State-Department-of-Natural-Resources-273352136518/.

Coordinator’s Corner — May

May 9, 2017

Arbor Day 2017 is now just a pleasant memory. Many of us are now looking forward to the beginning of summer. Are you planning to take advantage of the many opportunities to get outside and enjoy the outdoors this season? Do your plans include a campfire, when permitted of course? If the answer is yes, the slogan “Buy local, burn local” is good to remember. Why? Because firewood is a great way for unnoticed invasive freeloaders to take a ride to a new location.

Our friends at the Washington Invasive Species Council tell us that invasive species are plants, animals or organisms that spread so quickly they harm native species. Invasive species are not native to Washington but were transported here by someone or something. While not all non-native species are harmful, there are many that can cause big problems in the water and landscape, including urban and community forests. Take emerald ash borer (EAB), for example. Thankfully this tiny green beetle has not yet found its way to Washington, but since being discovered in Michigan in the summer of 2002, it has been responsible for killing hundreds of millions of ash trees throughout North America. The loss of trees in the east include native species and trees growing in cities and towns. The cost to municipalities, property owners, the nursery industry and the forest products industries is counted in the hundreds of millions of dollars. What is important to know is that the spread of this insect has been accelerated by the transportation of firewood. It is likely that this is how the insect traveled to Boulder, Colorado, currently the closest reported location of the insect relative to Washington state.

If you are an urban forestry advocate, you can help protect trees by spreading the slogan “Buy local, burn local.” You can also learn more about EAB and how to spot it in the landscape.

Here are a couple more resources:

Colorado created a short video to raise awareness of the spread of emerald ash borer. You can follow this link to check it out.

Learn how to identify EAB with this video field guide.

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

Washington’s 2016 Forest Health Highlights

May 9, 2017

The Washington State Department of Natural Resources and USDA Forest Service conduct annual aerial surveys to identify, map and monitor the impacts of insect and diseases on forest lands throughout the state. Aerial survey data are verified with ground-based observations and are compared against the results of other forest health research happening throughout the state.

Survey results are compiled into an annual report called Washington’s Forest Health Highlights. This year marks the 70th anniversary of cooperative aerial survey work between the Washington Department of Natural Resources, the Oregon Department of Forestry and the USDA Forest Service.

Due to the time required to collect and analyze the survey data, then verify and publish the results, the Forest Health Highlights outlines forest health conditions observed in the previous year. Nonetheless, these reports provide critical benchmarks for the presence or absence, scope, and severity of insects, diseases and other environmental conditions that adversely affect the health of trees and forests in Washington state.

Care to know what types of insects and diseases are affecting forest lands where you live? Download a copy of the recently released Forest Health Highlights in Washington–2016

Cultivating Resilient Communities, a Seminar for Planners, Administrators and Others

May 9, 2017

This is the third year of our Community Trees seminar program. In 2015, “Asset Management for Community Trees” was most relevant to public works managers, and last year’s “Quality Trees, Quality Cities” spoke primarily to those doing tree work in the field. Nonetheless, an often overheard comment during these seminars was “we should have had our [planning commissioner/city councilor/city manager/department head] at this, because they really need to hear these messages.”

This year’s program uses community trees and forests as a lens through which to view the important, community-wide issue of resilience. We feel this topic is best suited to planners, administrators and other decision-makers, though we expect others will find value in it as well. Here’s a preview of what’s in store for those who attend:

“Cultivating Resilient Communities”

Community trees and green spaces 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.

clyde-hill

 

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 urban_forestry@dnr.wa.gov  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 10, 8:30-12:00

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

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

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

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

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

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

Vancouver: This seminar is yet to be scheduled

Arbor Day 2017 in Review

May 9, 2017

Now with 90 cities earning the Tree City USA Award in Washington, there are a lot of Arbor Day events throughout the state that celebrate the benefits and values of trees. Many communities celebrate in April; however, several cities choose to celebrate Arbor Day in the fall.

No matter the time or place, Arbor Day is always made better when kids are involved in the festivities. Here’s a quick photo re-cap of just a few Arbor Day events held in Washington this spring:

Governor Jay Inslee and Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz

Governor Jay Inslee and Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz join children from the Capitol Campus Childcare Center to plant a northern red oak tree on the state capitol grounds in Olympia in honor of Arbor Day. Photo by DNR

State Forester Gerry Day presents the City of Yakima’s very first Tree City USA Award to Yakima City Councilor Avina Gutierrez. Photo by DNR.

School kids come out on a sunny afternoon in Hoquiam to help the city plant several large, 3.5″ caliper silver linden trees to commemorate the city’s 10th consecutive celebration of Arbor Day. Photo provided by City of Hoquiam.

Cub Scouts from Pack 504 join forces with the City of Bonney Lake to enhance a native riparian buffer along Fennel Creek. Photo provided by City of Bonney Lake.

U.S. Congressional Representative Denny Heck from Washington’s 10th District and Washington State Forester Gerry Day pose for a quick photo during the City of Olympia’s Arbor Day event.

 

 Urban Forest Connections Webinar Series

May 9, 2017

Photo by Clipart

Have you ever been interested in “the decline of play outdoors and the rise of sensory issues?” Or, perhaps, how trees and urban forests really” affect stormwater runoff?” Maybe you have wondered about integrating experts, communities, and online resources for equitably “expanding urban tree canopy,” or climate change & urban environments:” adaptation through diversity.”

If any of these topics are of interest to you, check out the Urban Forest Connections Webinar (UCFW) series. These research based webinars are produced by the USDA Forest Service, and a new topic is presented on the second Wednesday of each month, usually around 10 a.m. Pacific time. At the UFCW, you can sign up for email reminders and view archived webinars on topics relevant to urban forest stewardship.

This article adapted from where it originally appeared on Community Tree Connections, the newsletter of the Oregon Department of Forestry’s Urban & Community Forestry Program. 

Coordinator’s Corner — April

April 10, 2017

“And then it was spring…”

It’s been coming for a while, but with the longer days, it seems like the flowers on trees and in gardens popped open overnight. It must be time to celebrate Arbor Day!

All month UCF staff, members of the Washington Community Forestry Council, along with Commissioner of Public Lands, Hilary Franz, and State Forester, Gerry Day have the opportunity to recognize the accomplishments of Tree City USA communities at Arbor Day celebrations throughout the state. Events can be large, like the Yakima Area Arboretum’s Arbor Festival which draws hundreds of families, or relatively small, like city council meetings. What they have in common is that each one celebrates the contribution trees in their community and the commitment that has been made to manage them.

A community must meet four standards to be recognized as a Tree City USA by the Arbor Day Foundation: 1) designate a city staff person or department responsible for tree management, 2) adopt a tree care ordinance, 3) document spending of at least $2 per capita toward tree care and maintenance, and 4) annually proclaim and celebrate Arbor Day. And even though the name is ‘City,’ a community doesn’t need to meet a population threshold (Seattle – population 686,800 is Washington’s largest Tree City USA, and Farmington – population 155 is the smallest).

But the designation is just a starting point toward good tree management and a sustainable urban forest. Best practices include performing a tree inventory and/or canopy assessment, to understand the structure, function and value of the urban forest resource; developing a management and maintenance plan to guide the program, including budget development; building a framework for inter-departmental and community collaboration; and measuring program success.

You can find out more about urban forest management in the “Sustainable Urban Forest Guide” by the USDA Forest Service Northern Research Station in cooperation with The Davey Tree Expert Company.

Is your town or city a Tree City USA? Visit the Arbor Day Foundation’s Tree City USA website to learn more about the program and how you might communicate the importance of the program to community leaders.

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