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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

Cities to Receive WCC Crews for Urban Forestry Restoration

September 9, 2016

Aaaaaand the results are…

The Urban Forestry Restoration Project (UFRP) application review committee has completed its deliberations—and we have to say, this year’s applicants didn’t make it easy for us! The 27 applications received this year were high quality, with great project work that supported community goals in a meaningful way.

We’re pleased to announce the following successful applicants:

  • City of Arlington
  • City of Bainbridge Island


    UFRP crews prune trees and perform other maintenance tasks in urban areas. Photo by DNR

  • City of Bellingham Parks
  • City of Bellingham Public Works
  • City of Bremerton
  • City of Everett
  • City of Port Angeles
  • City of Port Townsend
  • City of Poulsbo
  • City of Sequim
  • City of Sumner
  • City of Tacoma
  • City of Tumwater
  • Washington State Dept. of Enterprise Services
  • Friends of North Creek Forest
  • Jefferson County Parks
  • Kitsap County Parks
  • Mount Vernon School District
  • Pierce County Parks

Each of these local project partners will receive one calendar month–approximately four weeks–of crew assistance with urban forestry maintenance and restoration tasks. Proposed project work ranged from structural pruning through maintenance of restoration sites to tree planting on streets, parks and restoration sites, representing the broad scope of urban forestry-related work in our Puget Sound communities.

This is the first year that the UFRP applications have been reviewed and ranked by committee. The committee consisted of

  • Linden Lampman, DNR Urban and Community Forestry Program manager
  • Kirsten Lintz, Washington Community Forestry Council member
  • Abby Barnes, DNR Aquatic Lands Planning & Stewardship Program
  • Jason Ouellette, Dept. of Ecology WCC Crew coordinator – Peninsula Region
  • Nick Saling, Dept. of Ecology WCC Crew coordinator – NW Region
  • Micki McNaughton, DNR Urban Forestry special projects coordinator

Thank you to all those who applied for crew time under the UFRP program for the time and effort that went into this year’s applications. Your extra care in developing applications was apparent, and it’s rewarding to watch UFRP applications and project work steadily improve each year.

POLL: 2017 Urban Forestry Seminar Topic

September 9, 2016

The 2016 Community Trees Seminar, “Quality Trees, Quality Cities” has been a success in six Washington cities so far this year, and there are two remaining seminars planned in Olympia (9/21/16) and Wenatchee (10/27/16).

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

A Tall Tree Tale:  Is my large tree a problem?

September 9, 2016

This article written by Susan Sanders, urban forestry commissioner and tree steward for the Carter Park Neighborhood, City of Vancouver, WA.

I have a huge, old ponderosa pine in my front garden in Vancouver, Washington. With all the news reports about trees falling during storms, I have worried if my tree is at risk of being next. And many of my neighbors have large, native Douglas firs or cedars in their yards.

Here in the Pacific Northwest we have ideal conditions for growing trees. Our native trees grow big here—that is what they do. It is frightening sometimes to hear news reports of downed trees during our winter storms. You may start to ask yourself questions like: Should I concerned about the stability of my trees? Could mine be next? Am I in danger?


The large ponderosa pine in Susan Sanders’ front yard, Vancouver, WA. Photo by Susan Sanders.

I began doing some research and discovered there are usually clear warning signs that a tree is potentially unstable. A tree doesn’t just fall over. There is almost always an underlying condition that led to the tree’s failure, though this isn’t always reported on by the media. Being a careful observer and noticing changed in your trees, especially over time, helps to reduce risks or problems.

Arborists say these are indicators of problems in trees:

  • A crack or split in the trunk of the tree
  • The soil heaving or raising at the base of the tree
  • Movement of the ground at the bottom of the tree, around the root plate, when it is windy
  • Large, dead tree limbs
  • Large cavities or hollows in the trunk along with other tree decay
  • Large portion of bark that is peeling or falling away from the trunk
  • Fungal/mushroom growth at or near the base of the tree.

Another thing that can put your mature tree at risk is recent construction near the tree.  Potential damage caused by construction can include soil compaction, severed roots, physical injury to the trunk or crown, smothering of roots from added fill soil and changes to grade or drainage.

Whether construction or natural causes have damaged your tree, it would be a good idea to get a professional assessment about the health and stability of your tree by an International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) Certified Arborist. When choosing an arborist, ask if he or she also possesses the ISA’s Tree Risk Assessment Qualification (TRAQ). These professionals are trained to balance benefits with liabilities and can help you decide what is best for your tree.

The ISA has an on-line search tool to help you locate certified arborists in your area.

I know my tree has many benefits to the neighborhood, especially since it is mature. It may be obvious but a large tree provides more long-term benefits than a small one. It cleans the air, assists with storm water runoff, cools the air, provides a habitat for birds, and helps us relax and feel better. It can also increase the value of my property! In the summer, sitting under that tree is a perfect place to cool down and its canopy will even provide some protection from a downpour in a rain storm.

Of course, trees can have risks but we all take many, many risks every day. I take risks every time I jump in my car and head to the grocery store, but that’s why I take my car to the mechanic regularly to be serviced. The same thing goes for the big beautiful ponderosa pine in my yard. Look for the warning signs yourself and hire a professional to help you minimize the risks of your tree. Perhaps there is wisdom in focusing on the beauty and benefits of large trees, rather than just the risks.

This article was republished with minor editorial changes from how it originally appeared in the May 2016 edition of the city of Vancouver’s Carter Park Neighborhood Association newsletter

“Quality Trees, Quality Cities”; Only a few Seminars Remain in 2016

September 9, 2016

Special Note: See the poll in this edition of Tree Link to vote for the 2017 urban forestry seminar topic!

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.

The Washington State Department of Natural Resources 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.

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 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 may find it useful.

Join us at this no-cost seminar to learn more about managing your community trees and forests for maximum benefit. Upcoming seminars include:

Olympia: Wednesday, September 28, 8:30-1:00

Wenatchee: Thursday, October 27, 8:30-1:00


Please contact me if you have questions or concerns.

Ben Thompson

Urban Forestry Specialist

Washington State Department of Natural Resources


New Report: How Communities Are Managing Their Urban Trees

September 9, 2016

This article reprinted as it originally appeared in the July 18th edition of the Treebune News, the official newsletter from the Alliance for Community Trees, an Arbor Day Foundation program

Stevens Point, WI (July 18, 2016) – Trees are a recognized and significant asset to communities but to remain so and increase in value they need care and regular maintenance. Municipal Tree Care and Management in the United States: A 2014 Urban & Community Forestry Census of Tree Activities is the fifth report over 40 years to address the many approaches communities take to manage public trees. Findings show how 667 communities are managing their trees on average, and how their municipal urban forestry operations are organized and funded.

urban street stormwaterComparing a community’s current configuration with national averages will give them an idea of how they are doing, point out ways to improve their urban forests, or even reduce costs. It has been over 20 years since the last rendition of this report in 1993. The researchers are grateful to the 667 communities that provided data for this project. A companion publication will compare the recent findings with previous versions to examine the ways that urban forestry is changing.

The results suggest that municipal urban forestry is maturing and becoming a rooted part of community infrastructure. People that make their careers in urban forestry are more professional, paid better, use recognized standards of work and are more systematic in their management. Communities continue to diversify how programs get funded in addition to general funding monies. A variety of policy tactics and plans that include trees are used to manage the urban forest.

There are challenges also such as emerald ash borer affecting municipal budgets and the reallocation of money from maintenance to tree removal and replanting. Deferred tree maintenance will likely led to future tree structural issues. Some communities report challenges to adequately fund a program to identified needs. In some places the rate of tree removal exceeds tree planting, especially in places that currently have emerald ash borer. A lack of tree diversity is also common in many locations. However, identifying challenges provide a baseline to improve upon.

The report includes communities with populations from 2,500 to more than one million people across the entire United States. It provides results organized by the entire country, community population and geographic regions. The report and data are extensive and can be overwhelming. To help navigate to a section that you might find important, the Table of Contents is organized and is hyperlinked for easier navigation.

Download the report: “Municipal Tree Care and Management in the United States: A 2014 Urban & Community Forestry Census of Tree Activities
Register for the free September 29, 2016, webinar to hear Dr. Rich Hauer explain this special report that influences how we look at trees in communities.

Coordinator’s Corner — August

August 10, 2016

What is the return on investment for community trees? According to Wikipedia, a return on investment (ROI) is the benefit to an investor resulting from an investment of some resource. A more familiar way to state the question might be, ‘are we getting the best bang for our buck’ in terms of our investment in our community forests? Is the investment in trees worth the money and resources being spent to grow and maintain the community forest?

street trees

Healthy trees are worth the investment. Photo by Guy Kramer.

We know healthy trees provide a plethora of benefits, but the key to gaining those benefits is healthy trees. That takes an investment in time and resources. From planning, to planting, through long-term care, trees in our communities need help to become established. It is only then that they provide the benefits we expect from them. It takes an investment to assure we are receiving a return on investment. Research shows that for every $1 spent on tree care and maintenance, communities receive back over $2 in economic, social, and environmental benefits.

During the Pacific Northwest summer, July through September when we receive little to no moisture, it is particularly important to invest resources to water trees. Best practices for tree care considers the post planting tree establishment period to be two to three years. Most root growth occurs during the summer. Establishment means that many roots will have grown a distance equal to approximately 3 times the distance from the trunk to the branch tips (Gilman 1988;Watson and Himelick 1982).  When trees are provided sufficient water, they establish more quickly. With minimal or insufficient irrigation, or in dryer climates, roots grow more slowly and a tree takes longer to establish.

Past the establishment period, a tree may not need supplemental irrigation, but for recently planted trees, and for those that are being weaned off supplemental water, it is important to watch tree ‘body-language.’ If trees exhibit fall colors in July or August, if the margins of leaves are browning, if leaves look wilted, it is an indication that additional water is required.

Protect your investment. Establish, care for, and maintain trees, then watch the benefits and your return on investment grow.

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