By Daria Gosztyla, Urban Forestry Projects & Outreach Specialist, Washington State Dept. of Natural Resources

Washington State Gov. Jay Inslee officially proclaimed October as “Urban and Community Forestry Month” in Washington for the ninth consecutive year, encouraging all Washingtonians to reflect on the value of our community trees and appreciate their beauty and benefits. Read the proclamation here.

During this time of year, the changing fall colors bring spectacular views of trees, with leaves turning hues of orange, yellow, red, purple and brown, which can make it easier to notice the hundreds of varieties of species that exist in our urban forests. Can you ID these four pictured trees by their leaf shape and fall color?

How about these five evergreen trees that may be planted throughout your community by their cone? We’ll share the answers at the end of this article.

These examples show that our urban forests are planted with a large array of native and non-native adapted trees that make our communities livable for people. These trees beautify landscapes, reduce energy costs, help keep our air clean to breathe and our water safe to drink and much more.

There’s plenty you can do to stay connected and celebrate trees all month long.

Plant a Tree

Autumn is the perfect season to plant trees in Washington state, thanks to cooler days and the return of rain. Check in with your cities, as many hold tree planting events or tree giveaway events in the fall. You could also visit your local nursery and purchase a new tree for your yard. Be sure to review your local tree ordinances any time you are selecting a tree species, and check out Arbor Day’s Tree Wizard to help you find the perfect tree for a fall planting.

Attend the PNW ISA Annual Training Conference

Although the conference already started, there is still time to register for many a la carte sessions through the rest of the month. This year’s Annual Training Conference (ATC) ’21 continues to be a virtual adventure and the theme is Resilient Communities, People, Places & Trees, offered Monday-Friday from October 1-29, 2021.

What can you expect from this year’s ATC? A variety of programs, 30+ Arborist CEU opportunities, flexibility (a la carte registration), the ability to view the recorded sessions at your leisure until June 31, 2022. Find out more here.

Participate in the Forest Health Watch

Protecting our forests is a community effort. Participate in the Forest Health Watch’s numerous community science projects by submitting sightings of trees you’ve spotted showcasing dieback, including species of Western redcedar, bigleaf maple, Western hemlock and more via the iNaturalist app. The easiest way to plug into the Forest Health Watch may be to attend one of their upcoming virtual events, held nearly weekly. The Forest Health Watch, in partnership with the WSU Puyallup Ornamental Plant Pathology Lab, has also recently launched a new call to action to watch out for Sooty Bark Disease on maples. Cities are encouraged to submit suspect symptomatic tree samples for free testing. Learn more about the initiative here.

Control Weeds and Report Invasive Trees

With fall arriving, you may think that it is the time of year to throw in the towel with the battel against weeds. However, several weeds and invasive plants are best controlled in the fall, find out more here. Also, throughout the month, several state agencies are asking everyone to report the invasive Tree of Heaven to help prevent the introduction of a harmful insect, the spotted lanternfly.

Explore New Resources

  • Pest Readiness Playbook: a tool to prepare communities for potential pest outbreaks through self-assessments and recommended actions.
  • The new Tree Equity Score, developed by American Forests, explores the alignment between tree canopy, surface temperature, income, employment, race, age and health. The tool has incorporated the new high-resolution tree canopy data produced by TNC and Davey Resource Group for the Central Puget Sound Region’s urban areas. American Forests provided an interactive demonstration of the tool for to support prioritization and planning through a social equity lens.  View the recording.  
  • The Northern Institute of Applied Climate Science developed a tree species selection guide based on anticipated climate change impacts in our region. NIACS shared more about the development of this guide through a webinar (View the recording). The final guide will be available Fall 2022.
  • As urban areas seek to plant and preserve trees, a consistent barrier is supporting the long-term maintenance of these trees. City Forest Credits is a national non-profit that is providing new tools for private-sector dollars to support planting and protecting trees in urban areas. City Forest Credits recently held a webinar that explored how urban tree planting and preservation efforts can generate carbon credits. View the recording.

Ask us a question

Do you have a tree related question? The DNR Urban & Community Forestry Program is here to help answer it. Email us at urban_forestry@dnr.wa.gov

Answers to Tree ID photos above: Deciduous trees: sweetgum (top left), honey locust (top right), bigleaf maple (bottom left), Pacific dogwood (bottom right). Coniferous trees: Sitka spruce, Douglas fir, Western hemlock, sequoia, Ponderosa pine.