Russell Moore, Engineering consultant, Soldotna, AK

portrait-Russell-Moore[1]Trees on Former Maintenance Site Reduce Runoff and Improve View

When Russell Moore’s parents built their home on Soldotna Creek, he says you could look over the water and see vegetation except at the Department of Transportation maintenance yard where the trees were gone.

In 2013, the Soldotna Parks and Recreation Department undertook a transformation project at the site to enlarge Soldotna Creek Park, a recreational area on the Kenai River. With a grant from the U.S. Forest Service administered by the Alaska Division of Forestry, trees were planted with the intent of the site serving as a large rain garden, reducing surface water runoff into the adjoining waterways.

figure1-Russell-Moore[1]When Russell heard of the project, he was excited and jumped into the project to personally participate. Russell and community members are thrilled with the results. “I can now see the trees from across the river. They are going to grow, and as they mature, they will have the presence the community will enjoy when they visit the park. For those who live across the river, the trees will help enhance their view to the other side.” He adds, “I feel good to have been a part of the park’s renovation and to know that people beyond us will be able to enjoy it.”

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Barbara O’Brien, Retired librarian, Tucson, AZ

Pathway Planting Leads to Safer and Friendlier Neighborhood

portrait-Barbara-O'Brien[1]“I always wanted to be a forest ranger, but I became a librarian,” says Barbara O’Brien. Now, she says, “I’m a mini-forest ranger.”

Barbara’s chance to work with trees in the great outdoors came when Trees for Tucson, the City of Tucson and the Broadmoor- Broadway Village Neighborhood Association’s Urban Forestry Committee joined forces to transform a rocky, six-block-long dirt pathway into one that was more attractive, less prone to crime and more easily walked by senior citizens. The result is a paved walkway with palo verde, desert willows and other drought-tolerant native trees on one side and – under utility lines on the other side – a variety of desert flowers and shrubs donated by gardeners in the area.figure1-Barbara-O'Brien[1]

Besides the physical transformation, less crime and increased use for exercise and fresh air, the benefits from this project came from having neighbors do the planting. Work days, as well as tours and special events, continue to be scheduled along the pathway. Barbara reports, “Neighbors from here and from blocks away come out on a Sunday or Saturday with shovels and go to work. You’re meeting people you wouldn’t meet ordinarily because your paths don’t cross. I’ve lived here for 25 years, and I’ve known neighbors who live close by. But now I know people blocks away.”

 

Tery Hursh, Physician Assistant and Clinic Owner, Dillon, MT

Trees Bring People Downtown

portrait-Tery-Hursh[1]Street trees are making downtown Dillon, Montana a destination, according to 20-year resident Tery Hursh.

Businesses and civic organizations in the 4,132-person town have joined with the Dillon Tree Board to plant trees and enhance the landscaping along Atlantic Street in the downtown business corridor.

City leaders see the new trees as an example of how the expertise and commitment of the Tree Board has shown the city the value of trees, while adding vibrancy and foot traffic to the downtown corridor.

figure1-Tery-Hursh[1]“I hear positive comments every week from patients about the beauty that the trees have brought to downtown,” says Tery, who works in the area.

Citizen participation helped make the transformation happen. In one weekend, more than 20 volunteers transformed that downtown street.

Funding for the trees was provided by a grant from Montana’s Urban and Community Forestry Program. Were it not for this critical support, visitors and residents would lose out on the benefits of street trees in town’s main commercial district.figure2-Tery-Hursh[1]

“The trees have brought beauty, slowed erosion and made the community safer,” Tery adds.

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Evan Matszuyama, student, Kailua-Kona, Hawaii

Tree Planting Helps Preserve Culture

portrait-Evan-Matszuyama[1]When Evan Matszuyama was 8, he would accompany his mother to classes at the University of Hawaii. There he came to know Dr. Richard Stevens who spent years bringing Hawaiian communities together to plant native trees throughout the islands.

Dr. Stevens’ influence was so great that Evan is now working to become a university professor and follow in the footsteps of his mentor. He has also gained an understanding of the significance of natural habitats in cultural traditions and the need to preserve or restore native vegetation.

figure2-Evan-Matszuyama[1]“Aside from physically giving back to my community by planting, I’ve gained an understanding of the value of diverse indigenous species that are fragile and need to be preserved,” says Evan. Through the work of Dr. Stevens more than 10,000 trees have been planted by students, veterans and citizens around veterans’ memorials, in communities, and in rural landscapes.

figure1-Evan-Matszuyama[1]Most of these projects would not have been possible without funding and technical assistance provided by Hawaii’s Urban and Community Forestry Program. As Evan continues his education, Dr. Stevens’ good influence lives on and bodes well for the future. Through the connection of teaching and tree planting, indigenous trees are being restored and preservation of Hawaiian culture is helping to enrich the land and its people.

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Celia Garcia, Conservation Corps, Los Angeles, CA

A Single Mom Found a Good-Paying Job Planting Trees for the City of Los Angeles.

portrait-Celia-Garcia[1]Planting trees changed Celia Garcia’s life. A high school drop-out and single mom with two children, she faced bleak career prospects and worried about paying her bills before she connected with the Los Angeles Conservation Corps.

It was not a passion for trees that brought Celia to the Corps, a city jobs training program aimed at struggling young adults. Rather, Celia was drawn to the possibility of completing her high-school education and finding meaningful work.

Celia not only found a job, she began building a career. After finishing her coursework, she gained valuable experience in the Corps’ tree nursery. Later, she started working on the Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s Million Trees LA project, contacting residents to gauge their interest in new trees along their property and then following through with the planting herself.

figure1-Celia-Garcia[1]“You can see your work grow,” Celia said, with pride. “Once we plant a tree in a school or a parkway, I can go back in the future and say, ‘I planted that tree.'” Since 1986, more than 1,300 young adults each year have benefited from the Corps’ job training and educational opportunities.

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Dave Bowman, Retired U.S. Air Force pilot, Fayetteville AR

The University of Arkansas, businesses, homes and parks are tied together in Fayetteville with a 28-mile system of trails.

portrait-Dave-Bowman[1]The University of Arkansas, businesses, homes and parks are tied together in Fayetteville with a 28-mile system of trails.

“Sometimes as many as 1,000 people a day use the trails,” says Dave Bowman, a member of the volunteer Trail Trekkers that serve as ‘eyes and ears’ for the city.

“It’s the best thing since peanut butter,” Dave laughs. He credits trees, which were planted deliberately to enhance the recreational experience, for making the trail special.

figure2-Dave-Bowman[1]“I’ve seen trails that just go through grass, and that’s no way to do it,” he says, whereas trees provide shade, a windbreak and a feeling of being in the country. “They offer a chance for people to get back to nature, and provide habitat for wildlife.” One youngster counted 300 bird species in one year.

As the caregiver for two family members, Dave is especially grateful for the several days each week he spends on the trails. “You see a lot of smiling faces,” he says.

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Wayne Miles, Pastor, Blades, Delaware

A Removed Tree Goes on Serving

portrait-Wayne-Miles[1]For years, Pastor Wayne Miles worried about a large street tree next to his Baptist church. The tree was buckling the sidewalk creating a tripping hazard and its roots threatened the building’s foundation.

It wasn’t until a city official suggested he contact Mandy Tolino that something was done about the problem. Mandy was Wilmington’s newly hired urban forestry administrator, a position funded with start-up money from the U.S. Forest Service. Within a week, Mandy arranged to have the tree removed, the roots ground up, the sidewalk repaired and a new tree planted.

Pastor Miles saw another benefit from the experience. “They cut up the wood,” he says. “The nice part about that was that a man who had just been let go from his job asked us for the wood. He had a small child and winter was coming on.”

“Maybe this tree had a purpose,” reflects Pastor Miles. “When there is a conscientious-minded administration and sincere people like Mandy, then they can blend that together where man can coexist in terms of what God has provided us in nature.”

Pastor Miles sees the old tree as “there for a blessing.” He also reports that his congregation is delighted with the new tree and it will be there providing even more benefits for many generations.

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Frances Oyung, Coordinator, Bear Creek Watershed Council

portrait-Frances-Oyung[1]Trees Save Endangered Fish

The shading affect of trees not only provides comfort for people, but also ensures the survival of cold water fish. Frances Oyung heads a collaborative effort to reduce the hot glare of summer sun on this important tributary of the Rogue River.

“Shade from trees is the primary factor in reducing the creek’s temperature and keeping salmon alive,” says Frances. Through a grant from the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, Frances and her partners have planted more than 600 native trees, including cottonwoods, Oregon ash, alders and a variety of conifers.

figure1-Frances-Oyung[1]Were it not for support from state officials, Bear Creek would be overheated and fish would be unable to survive.

The overall goal is to reverse the effect of 150 years of land uses that have led to a high level of stress on coho salmon, Chinook salmon and steelhead trout.

figure2-Frances-Oyung[1]“It is a slow process and gargantuan job,” says Frances. But the cooling effect of restored trees is already making a difference.

Do you have an Arbor Day Foundation story that you’d like to share?  Please tell us all about it in the comments section below. We’d love to hear it!

Check out our other Faces of Urban Forestry.

#TreeCityUSATuesday

Albuquerque, NM

Albuquerque has been designated a Tree City USA community for 16 years and awarded the  Growth Award twice.

Albuquerque NMHome to 550,000 residents, Albuquerque is a city fused with western flare and modern culture.  Despite its arid desert climate, Albuquerque manages to stay green, encompassing more than 1.5 million trees with 13% tree canopy coverage. The city also fosters a healthy lifestyle; a 2007 March issue of Men’s Fitness listed Albuquerque as the fittest city in the United States. Residents are certainly making the most of the city’s 361 parks.

In addition to healthy people, Albuquerque also produces healthy air, removing 366 tons of air pollutants annually, saving $1.1 million in air filtration costs. Contrary to desert stereotypes, the city receives rainfall; in fact the urban forest intercepts 11.1 million gallons of stormwater runoff annually, saving $3.42 million in stormwater management costs. On top of that, the city saves as much as $3.76 million in energy costs.

Albuquerque’s urban forest is an asset valued at $1.93 billion.

Is your city worthy of Arbor Day Foundation #TreeCityUSATuesday recognition?  If so, please tell us about it!

Can the Latest Advancement in Urban Infrastructure Benefit Your City?

One of the most common problems urban trees face is having sufficient soil and space to properly grow. Crowded cities make it challenging to mimic the natural environment in which trees thrive. Thanks to emerging green technology, cities are beginning to implement greener practices in construction that are saving cities tree repair costs down the road and creating a healthier setting for trees to grow.

silvaCell2[1]

Silva cells allow water and nutrients to reach tree roots through loose soil.

Ordinarily when trees are planted in metropolitan settings they are buried under hard surfaces such as sidewalks and roads. These surfaces have to be robust enough to handle heavy vehicles. Naturally, the result of such weight is soil compaction. Soil compaction constricts water, air, and nutrients from reaching the roots, stunting the growth of trees and even leading to structural failures.

In 2007 DeepRoot introduced the Silva cell —the first commercially available soil containment system to be used in construction that supports heavy asphalt surfaces without compacting soil surrounding tree roots — a breakthrough in urban infrastructure.

So how does it work?

photo 4

Silva cells being installed in Lincoln, NE

The rigid frame is designed like a modular suspended pavement by transferring above ground loads down to a compacted sub-base while the inside of the system is filled with loose soil for roots to access. In addition to the loose soil, the system also acts as a stormwater management system, absorbing runoff and storing a large amount of water, creating an underground rain garden.

While the technology is new and still evolving, there have been more than 500 installations of Silva cells in 10 different countries. The results have been outstanding with reports of healthy tree growth, including longer bud extensions and trees flourishing to full maturity.

Lincoln, Nebraska is participating in the trend with four installations of Silva Cells at construction sites, including near the Arbor Day Foundation headquarter offices.

Is your city installing Silva cells? What other approaches is your city implementing to promote healthy urban and community forests? You may also enjoy reading our How to Save Trees During Construction, a Tree City USA Bulletin.