It is time to for us to say goodbye to summer as we look forward to a new season. If you haven’t already, now is the time to start preparing for fun fall tree-related community and volunteer events. Volunteers are often the heart of urban and community forestry programs. Their passion and advocacy can help drive a program forward toward success. And volunteer events, especially if they are community designed and driven, help to connect neighbors as they realize a shared vision for a neighborhood.

Next month, October, is Urban and Community Forestry Month in Washington. It’s a good time to invite the community to participate in educational events that introduce them to trees, parks and the community forest. It’s also a good time to invite residents to participate as urban forestry stewards.

Events can be fun, educational, or project-focused. Here are a few ideas:

  • Create a geocache “treasure hunt” with a different species of tree at each spot, to help highlight the diversity of your community’s forest
  • Organize a neighborhood meeting and invite residents to plan for additional trees to enhance their community canopy
  • Invite residents to visit parks and trails in your community and post ideas for how they might help maintain the natural ecosystem while enjoying nature close to home
  • Hold work parties in natural areas to clear invasive plants and restore the native ecosystem

If you already have a volunteer program, fall is a great time to recognize the amazing contributions of volunteers who have donated time and energy toward a healthy, resilient urban forest. Did you know that in 2018 the Independent Sector valued adult volunteer time in Washington state at $31.72 per hour? That is potentially a huge contribution to your urban forestry budget. Thanks volunteers!

Remember: Whether you are a returning Tree City USA (TCUSA) or are planning to apply for the first time this year, one of the four TCUSA standards is to proclaim and celebrate Arbor Day annually. If your city hasn’t celebrated this year don’t worry, there is still time. Many cities prefer to proclaim and celebrate the “Tree Planter’s Holiday” in the fall instead of spring, since it is a great time to plant and celebrate trees.

If your community is not currently a TCUSA, we invite you to join with the other 95 Washington communities that enjoy that designation. You can get started by checking out the four standards on the Arbor Day Foundation website, then give us a call with any questions you might have.

Happy autumn!

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