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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

Funding Opportunity: Landscape Scale Restoration Competitive Grant

February 10, 2017

To our partners in urban forestry, this opportunity applies to you as much as it does to other forests and forest managers in rural, wildland and wildland-urban interface areas:

The Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) works to protect Washington’s forests in wildland, rural and urban areas.

Our forests keep our drinking water clean, control floods, purify our air, enhance community livability and are home to countless wildlife species. In order to help preserve these benefits, DNR and the U.S. Forest Service work together through combined state and private forestry programs, including the Landscape Scale Restoration Competitive Grant Process (LSR).

LSR proposals leverage DNR and partner resources to offer tangible support for projects that help conserve, protect, enhance and restore forests across the diverse landscapes of Washington. To that end, DNR wants to submit the best and most important projects for federal funding competition. 

We request that potential partners submit letters of interest and collaborate with us to develop Landscape Scale Restoration Competitive Grant proposals that meet the following national priorities:

  • Protect forests from threats through maintaining federal, state and local agency capacity in wildland fire preparedness, prevention and response.
  • Conserve and manage working forest landscapes through promoting and sustaining a viable forest products industry that supports resource management and sapling restoration on all lands and minimizing forest conversion and fragmentation through conservation easements, appropriate development planning and effective intergenerational transfer.
  • Enhance public benefits from trees and forests through actively and sustainably managing trees, forests and watersheds for ecosystem health, economic benefits and community resilience.

LSR projects cross boundaries to affect any combination of federal, state, tribal, county, municipal or private lands. For example, a riparian habitat restoration project might impact the entire length of a waterway that passes through lands, which are owned and managed by different agencies, organizations or individuals.

Funding for LSR projects comes from the U.S. Forest Service State and Private Forestry branch. Funding of projects aims to address forest conservation, protection and enhancement needs in priority areas identified in Washington’s Forest Action Plan. DNR works to ensure that federal dollars are invested in locally supported projects that address issues of national importance and provide meaningful, lasting and measurable outcomes.

LSR projects have a maximum grant request of $240,000.

Please visit DNR’s website for more information about the Landscape Scale Restoration Grants. Interested partners are advised to download and review a copy of the Request for Proposals (RFP) and Washington’s Forest Action Plan prior to submitting letters of interest.

Applicant Eligibility

Open to state and local government agencies, tribes, non-profit organizations and educational institutions.

Deadline for Letter of Interest

March 10, 2017

4:30 p.m. (PST)

A Tribute to Cass Turnbull

February 10, 2017

The following article was reprinted with permission as it originally appeared in the Seattle Times on January 30, 2017.

Plant Amnesty Founder Cass Turnbull, author and lover of open spaces, dies

By , Seattle Times environment reporter

cass-turnbull

Cass Turnbull founded Plant Amnesty and protected Seattle’s trees and green spaces. (Mike Siegel/The Seattle Times)

A real-life Lorax, Cass Turnbull spoke for the trees.

A staunch defender of trees and open space, she used humor as her secret weapon, starting with the name of her signature achievement, the founding of Plant Amnesty 30 years ago. The nonprofit’s aim was “to stop the senseless torture and mutilation of trees and shrubs.”

Plant Amnesty, which now has nearly 1,200 members in 32 states and three countries, offers inexpensive pruning classes and workshops, as well as a referral service for arborists, gardeners and pruners.

Mrs. Turnbull authored two books, including Cass Turnbull’s Guide to Pruning (Sasquatch, 2012), now in its third edition.

She also created a political-action group to bring her fight for trees into the public sphere. TreePac took on the task of toughening the city’s tree ordinance, and digging into the minutiae of land-use laws to defend trees and green spaces.

Mrs. Turnbull died Jan. 26 while on vacation in Hawaii, from a heart attack after a swim. She was 65.

Mrs. Turnbull began her career as a laborer at the Seattle Parks Department.

“That was her introduction to the importance of the value of natural spaces, and where she became more interested in the plant world,” said her sister, Ghaska Cleland Branch, of Seattle. “It wasn’t just pruning; it was the whole importance of nature. Not just the health benefits but the civic benefits.”

Mrs. Turnbull, born Katherine Fauntelle Cleland in 1951, grew up in Magnolia and attended Fairhaven College in Bellingham. She met her husband, John, while working together building a boardwalk trail at Discovery Park. The couple married in 1987.

It was not only her vision but her ability to articulate issues that made Mrs. Turnbull such a force.

“She knew how to speak in everyday language in words that matter to people, things like ‘Where are the kids in all of these apartment buildings going to play,’ ’’ said Mary Fleck, co-chair of the nonprofit Seattle Green Spaces Coalition. “She cut through all the policy to get to the heart of things.”

She wasn’t afraid to be zany or offbeat.

“She knew getting people excited about pruning was not going to be an easy thing to do. She knew she needed to do it with a sense of humor,” said Laura Watson, a board member of Plant Amnesty. “She was so full of knowledge too, and so curious about everything — what is that spider doing, what are owls all about.”

Mrs. Turnbull used whimsy to spearhead her advocacy, too. When the city sold a small, scarified vacant lot for development behind an auto-repair shop, a block from the roaring traffic on Aurora Avenue and 80th Street in Greenwood, Mrs. Turnbull responded with a guerrilla artist’s flair.

She turned the vacant lot and its chain-link fence into a pop-up menagerie, buying stuffed animals by the dozens from thrift stores and fake ivy. She wound the greenery through the links and tucked the animals into its openings.

Inside the fence, a horse as tall as a toddler stood by “meadows” of green felt, and stuffed ducks sat by “ponds” cut from plastic tarp. She regularly replaced those items with the help of like-minded volunteers, as kids made off with the stuffed animals — she intended them as neighborhood gifts — or the developer took it all away.

“Life is so dull, one day so much like the next, why not do something fun?” she said in an interview as she worked at the menagerie on a dreary day last November.

The tactic was effective, turning heads, and raising the issue of what to do with vacant substation lots owned by the city all over Seattle.

One of her recent causes was preservation of a 32-acre surplus property put up for sale by the city of Seattle. Mrs. Turnbull joined forces with Fleck and others to prevent the sale and preserve the Myers Way South property near White Center.

It was just the sort of vacant land she grew up exploring as a girl in Seattle that gave her a love of nature, Mrs. Turnbull wrote in the West Seattle Herald.

She urged the protection of Seattle’s forgotten, often scruffy places with an urgency that cut through Seattle’s endless process of meetings. “It was her enthusiasm, the necessity, the now-ness,” said Katherine Morrison, a board member of TreePac. “It was, ‘This has to be dealt with now, or we are going to lose this forever.’ ”

As Seattle grows denser, Mrs. Turnbull also argued passionately for the value of big trees, and for protecting and increasing the city’s urban tree cover.

A state-certified arborist, landscaper and master gardener, Mrs. Turnbull also worked to educate the public about tree topping, a practice she deplored, warning it destroys the vigor and beauty of trees.

Ever practical, Mrs. Turnbull engaged Spanish-language instructors in pruning classes, to reach the crews actually doing the work.

“She realized that was how she could change the face of the city. She didn’t just reach out to the gardeners; she reached out to the crews,” said Val Easton, a longtime garden columnist who wrote a profile of Mrs. Turnbull for The Seattle Times’ Pacific Magazine.

“She was involved in so many ways, in people’s gardens and green spaces; her advocacy was garden by garden and plant by plant.”

In addition to her husband and sister, Mrs. Turnbull is survived by a stepmother, Nancy Callaghan, of Seattle; two cousins; and her beloved cats, Trouble and Sweetie. A celebration of her life is being planned by Plant Amnesty.

By Lynda V. Mapes, lmapes@seattletimes.com

New Seminar for 2017: Cultivating Resilient Communities

February 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.

clyde-hill

Topics 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

Dates and times for the 2017 seminars have not yet been confirmed; however, we hope to return to the same eight cities that hosted this event in 2016: Vancouver, Bellevue, Mount Vernon, Olympia, Poulsbo, Richland, Spokane and Wenatchee.

Please stay tuned for the March edition of the Tree Link for more details and information on how to register for a seminar near you.

Invasive Species Could Cost Washington Businesses, Agencies $1.3 Billion

February 10, 2017

A new report pegs the economic impact of 23 of the most damaging invasive species in Washington at $1.3 billion a year and a loss of 8,000 jobs, if there’s no prevention, according to the Washington Invasive Species Council.

“Invasive species are plants and animals not native to Washington, and once they land here, they out-compete existing wildlife,” said Justin Bush, executive coordinator of the Washington Invasive Species Council. “They can wipe out crops, clog waterways, damage pipes and dams and completely change the landscape and the wildlife that live there. Left unchecked, invasive species can ring up huge costs for control, kill jobs and harm our economy.”

While there are more than 200 known invasive species found in or near Washington state, the economic analysis highlights the damages and potential impacts that could result if 23 of these species were allowed to spread in Washington in a single year.

Following are the total potential economic impacts of 23 invasive species on Washington’s industries:

Crops

Cropland has the potential to be quickly infested by invasive plants, which require resources to control, and by invasive animals, which are looking for fruits and vegetables to eat. The total economic impact of the selected 23 invasive species on crops grown in Washington is estimated to be more than $589 million a year and 4,400 jobs lost.

Timber

Many invasive species have the ability to severely impact Washington’s $1.68 billion timber and logging industry. Invasive noxious weed species, such as Scotch broom, out-compete new saplings, which harms future timber harvests. Insect species, such as gypsy moth, have a more immediate impact on forests by defoliating and stressing adult trees, resulting in their death. The total economic impact of the selected 23 invasive species on the timber industry is estimated to be $297 million and 1,300 jobs lost.

Livestock

Invasive noxious weeds in pastures and rangeland displace native plants eaten by livestock. In some cases, these plants also are poisonous to livestock and horses and can cause life-threatening ailments. The total economic impact of the selected 23 invasive species on the livestock industry is estimated to be more than $282 million annually and 1,500 jobs lost.

Recreation

Recreational activities such as hunting, fishing and boating can all be adversely affected by invasive species. Many of the same species that impact a rancher’s ability to range their cattle also reduce elk and deer populations. Invasive species in the water hamper fish populations and can reduce access to popular fishing areas. Other water species can clog boat motors and render public boat launches unusable. The total economic impact of the selected 23 invasive species to recreational activities is estimated to be more than $47 million a year and 500 jobs lost.

Water Facilities

Water facilities, such as dams and irrigation systems, can be devastated by aquatic invasive species, such as Eurasian watermilfoil and quagga and zebra mussels. If invasive species are introduced to a facility, costly mitigation and maintenance systems must be installed for the facility to function. The total economic impact to water facilities from quagga and zebra mussels is estimated to be more than $100 million and 500 jobs lost.

The Worst Offenders

Rush skeletonweed, Scotch broom, apple maggot and zebra and quagga mussels are the most costly of the selected invasive species in Washington with an estimated total impact of more than $927 million and more than 5,140 jobs lost, the report concluded.

“Invasive species, including noxious weeds, affect all of us in Washington,” says Alison Halpern, the executive secretary of the Washington State Noxious Weed Control Board.

“Many people have probably seen Scotch broom take over a vacant lot, knapweeds crowd out rangeland plants or Eurasian milfoil plug up a lake and make it hard to swim or boat. It’s important to understand that not only are they reducing native plant diversity and degrading important habitat, but they also can really hurt businesses that rely on Washington’s natural resources.”

Invasive species rapidly colonize new areas, displacing native species. Nationally, the impacts of invasive species and control efforts cost more than $137 billion annually, but information on the specific costs of these impacts to Washington has been lacking.

To address the lack of information, the Washington Department of Agriculture, Washington State Noxious Weed Control Board and the Washington Invasive Species Council partnered with five other state agencies (Departments of Ecology, Fish and Wildlife, Natural Resources and Transportation, and the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission) to hire Seattle-based Community Attributes Inc. to quantify the impact of 23 of the most damaging invasive species in Washington. The analysis gathered information on crops, livestock, timber and recreation, such as hunting, fishing and boating.

“This economic damage can be reduced or even prevented by controlling noxious weeds, reporting invasive species, choosing non-invasive plants, never releasing unwanted pets into the wild and cleaning recreational equipment before and after use,” Bush said. “We all must do our part to prevent the introduction of invasive species to Washington state. With this amount of revenue and jobs on the line, we can’t afford to ignore this important issue.”

“As this report makes clear, invasive species can devastate the economy, in addition to our state’s environment,” said Jim Marra, pest program manager for the Washington State Department of Agriculture. “This is all the more reason for our agency and our partners to continue the invaluable work of preventing the introduction of invasive species to protect the state’s agricultural, environmental and other natural resources.”

Coordinator’s Corner — January

January 9, 2017

Happy New Year!

Beginning January 11, the Washington State Department of Natural Resources will be lead by a new Commissioner of Public Lands, Hilary Franz. Welcome Commissioner-elect Franz!

For the uninitiated, the Commissioner of Public Lands has a big job: generate revenue for public schools from timber harvests, leases, and other activities on public land; regulate the timber, shellfish and surface-mining industries; fight wildfire throughout the state; and protect the health of forests, rivers, wildlife and other natural resources. These are the biggies but the list of agency responsibilities runs far deeper.

Hilary’s campaign focused on supporting local communities. She is interested in engaging DNR’s constituents with greater public outreach and education, and she aims to broaden the agency’s role as a leader in climate change mitigation.

All of that sounds well-aligned with what we do here in DNR’s Urban and Community Forestry program.

For starters, the DNR Urban Forestry team specializes in public outreach and education. We also offer grants, training and technical assistance to Washington’s cities and towns to help them achieve their own natural resource management goals. Our Urban Forestry Restoration Project provides job skills training to young people and veterans while helping cities remove invasive weeds, restore natural areas, and overcome daunting workloads of deferred maintenance in their urban forests.

Research from the University of Washington and other institutions unveils how nature in cities improves public health and well-being and can boost economic indicators of community success. Other research on ecosystem services demonstrates how healthy urban forests sequester carbon, mitigate stormwater, prevent erosion, reduce the urban heat-island effect, conserve energy, purify the air, protect wildlife habitat and improve quality of life in cities and towns.

Every waterway that DNR works so hard to protect in the uplands eventually flows through one or more of Washington’s cities. Our work in communities helps protect the integrity of our environment and DNR’s stewardship efforts across all landscapes.

The urban and community forestry team looks forward to working with our new Commissioner and the Washington Community Forestry Council, as together we provide leadership to create self-sustaining urban and community forestry programs that preserve, plant and manage forests and trees for public benefits and quality of life throughout Washington state.

To our new Commissioner and all the readers of Tree Link, I hope that each of you are as excited as we are for a 2017 that is healthy, prosperous and green.

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

Reporting Drought Related Tree Damage – Why and How?

January 9, 2017

In the November 2016 issue of Small Forest Landowner News, DNR Forest Entomologist Glenn Kohler reported on the impacts to conifers following the 2015 drought. This period of drought was the most severe in Washington in several decades and had significant influence on the availability of water for growing trees.

Lack of water caused stress and damage in conifer trees across a range of ages, sizes and species. Branch and top dieback, foliage loss, entire tree mortality, and an increases in bark beetle activity and damage were observed in 2015 and 2016. These signs and symptoms of drought stress may continue into 2017, especially if drier-than-normal conditions persist.

This is not good news for our trees, but it does present an opportunity for us right now.

This is a chance to document drought damage in trees and use the reports to prepare management guidelines for the future. If you are interested in reporting drought damage observed on your property, please include as much of the following information as you can. Minimum information requested includes: tree species affected, damage symptoms and location information.

  • Host/tree species are affected?
  • Damage symptoms (branch flagging, top dieback, entire tree mortality, low needle retention, etc.)
  • Tree location: A GPS reading, street address or county (NOTE: Your location information will only be used to assess geographic patterns of drought damage and will not be retained by DNR for other purposes)
  • Approximate age of tree affected
  • Size of trees affected (diameter and/or height estimate)
  • Other damage agents present (none, Douglas-fir bark beetle, root disease, unknown)
  • The number of trees affected (if unknown, please estimate whether a few or many trees are affected)
  • Number of acres affected
  • Site characteristics (be as specific as possible; for example, residential property, highway roadside, adjacent to field, forested area, floodplain, forest edge, etc.)
  • Soil characteristics (rocky, well-draining, deep, shallow, poor, etc.)
  • Your expertise with tree damage assessment (layperson, novice, competent, or expert)

Everyone — from private property owners to professionals and consultants — is encouraged to submit reports of drought damage. Reports will be summarized and incorporated into a forest health database in spring and summer 2017. This information will help us to prepare a summary report that includes drought damage trends by species, tree size, geography and other site characteristics — the report is expected to be released winter 2017/2018. We’ll also use submitted data to develop management strategies that we hope will reveal more opportunities for creating resilient landscapes. These reports will be posted on the DNR website — we will let you know when it’s available in a future edition of Tree Link.

Please send this information to Amy Ramsey at amy.ramsey@dnr.wa.gov or Washington DNR, 4th Floor, Wildfire Division, PO Box 47037, Olympia, WA, 98501.