And Now The News …

Wilmington, North Carolina, WECT-TV, December 13, 2018: Judge bars tree-removal company accused of price gouging from collecting fees

A Superior Court judge has granted a preliminary injunction against an out-of-state tree removal company which keeps the owners from operating in North Carolina and collecting exorbitant fees they charged victims in Castle Hayne in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence. “This out-of-state operator tried to rip off North Carolinians coping with the devastating effects of Hurricane Florence,” said Attorney General Josh Stein. “I’m grateful that the court has blocked them from taking advantage of any other North Carolinians as we continue this case. My office will not stand for anyone who preys on the misfortune of others in violation of our state’s price gouging statute.” Stein announced that his office had filed a lawsuit against Scotts Tree Service and its owners, Scott Lacey and Randy Shannon, during an October stop in Wilmington. The judge’s order will remain in place until the trial, according to Stein. Homeowners from Castle Hayne testified that the company billed them $14,500 to remove two fallen trees without first discussing or getting an agreement on the price. The homeowners also testified that the work took approximately an hour and involved eight employees, which comes to more than $1,800 per man-hour. Lacey testified that he pays his employees around $30 to $60 per hour. The homeowners further testified that Scotts Tree Service had one of the homeowners sign a statement of work to be done and later filled in the document with the $14,500 price, which the homeowner had not agreed to. After the homeowner refused to pay, the company sent the invoice to a bill collector, Goldberg & Donovan, Inc., a Massachusetts-based company. Earlier this year, a judge granted an injunction against Goldberg & Donovan, barring them from doing business in North Carolina…

Houston, Texas, Chronicle, December 13, 2018: Initiative aims to restore American chestnut trees

Volunteers have planted more than 600 American chestnut trees at Eastern Kentucky University in an effort to restore the tree to the Daniel Boone National Forest. WKYT-TV reports the university has partnered with The American Chestnut Foundation and the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga in an effort to restore the trees to the region. A blight in the early 1900s killed millions of the trees across the Eastern U.S. Daniel Boone National Forest supervisor Dan Olsen says 615 seedlings were planted in late November at The American Chestnut Federation Regional Seed Orchard. He says officials hope to harvest seeds from the orchard in the future…

San Francisco, California, Patch, December 13, 2018: 75 Cloned Redwood Trees To Be Planted In San Francisco

Seventy-five coastal redwood tree saplings will be planted Friday morning in San Francisco’s Presidio to help alleviate climate change. A team from the Archangel Ancient Tree Archive will plant the saplings, which are clones from five local tree stumps, from 9 a.m. to noon. Organizers said the trees will be highly resistant to wildfires, disease and pests and can gather water from fog. Organizers said each redwood tree can remove up to 250 tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere over its lifespan, compared with one ton for more average trees…

Charleston, South Carolina, Post & Courier, December 13, 2018: Isle of Palms man sentenced to jail time for cutting down trees

An Isle of Palms man may spend five days in jail after he cut down two significant trees on the island — on land that he didn’t own. Jonathan Gandolfo, who has been battling the town over the tree cutting incident since 2016, was found guilty Tuesday of two counts related to the removal of two trees at 408 Carolina Blvd. He did not cut the trees himself but directed their cutting by a contractor, according to an IOP police incident report. Gandolfo was sentenced to 30 days in jail on each count, with the sentence suspended so that he would instead spend one day and then two consecutive weekends in the Charleston County jail, and then spend two weekends completing community service. He must also pay a fine of $1,087… At the same time, Gandolfo still may face civil penalties from the town, which also has the ability to fine him for violating the tree-cutting ordinance. Gandolfo did not own the land where the trees were cut, but its owners have not pressed charges against him to date. Their property previously was under contract with Gandolfo as the buyer, but the sale didn’t close, Cornely said. According to the police incident report from 2016, the contractor who cut the trees had texts on his phone from Gandolfo urging the contractor “be a ninja about it and be quick so the code guys don’t interrupt you…”

Cincinnati, Ohio, WLWT-TV, December 12, 2018: Fallen tree critically hurts man in Clermont County; who’s at fault?

A man was rushed to the hospital Thursday after a large tree snapped, smashing his car as he drove in Clermont County. A woman who saw it happen is calling for better oversight to prevent this from ever happening again. The man who was badly hurt was driving down a road many people use every day. Now, he’s in critical condition and facing surgeries for his injuries. “When I close my eyes, I see it, over and over again,” Melissa Morganthaler said. It’s a horrific scene Morganthaler can’t forget. She said as she left the grocery store on Loveland-Miamiville Road in Loveland, she witnessed a tree snap and a large part of it landed on a car. “It hit the car and, just, almost like an explosion, just, this horrible loud boom,” Morganthaler said. Photos WLWT obtained showed a mangled BMW sedan, where the man had been trapped. He was badly hurt and bleeding, according to people who called 911 dispatchers as they stayed by his side. “The top of the roof has came in on the person’s head and it’s bad, they’re trying to breathe right now,” a man said to a dispatcher. Morganthaler was there as well, assuring the man. “You’ve got to be calm because there’s chaos all around you, and somebody has to be calm. I just felt so sorry for the poor man,” Morganthaler said. Emergency crews hurried to the scene, cutting the man out of the car in about 12 minutes before they rushed him to University Hospital. Even after the scene cleared, Morganthaler’s mission only began. She called the Clermont County Engineer’s Office because she said the trees in the area where the incident happened are dead and need to be removed. Engineers told WLWT the trees are not in the county’s right-of-way, meaning they are on private property and officials cannot cite the owners…

Phys.org, December 12, 2018: Researchers reverse engineer way pine trees produce green chemicals worth billions

Washington State University researchers have reverse engineered the way a pine tree produces a resin, which could serve as an environmentally friendly alternative to a range of fossil-fuel based products worth billions of dollars. Mark Lange and colleagues in the Institute for Biological Chemistry literally dissected the machinery by which loblolly pine produces oleoresin. Before the arrival of petroleum-derived alternatives in the 1960s, the sticky, fragrant oil-resin mixture was central to the naval stores industry and products ranging from paint and varnish to shoe polish and linoleum. Meanwhile, the international demand for oleoresins has risen. Naturally occurring oleoresins—from sources like loblolly pine—are often preferred. A 2016 analysis by Grand View Research predicted that global sales of oleoresin will approach $1.7 billion by 2022. The Lange lab’s discovery of how it is made “could inspire new engineering approaches for the production of renewable, green chemicals,” says Dutch biologist Harro Bouwmeester in a commentary accompanying Lange’s research in the Journal of Experimental Botany. As natural factories go, said Lange, plants are industry leaders. Humans, he said, produce roughly 3,000 metabolites, the small molecules that occur in human metabolism. “Plants make hundreds of thousands,” he said, “and most of what’s out there in terms of chemical diversity is probably unknown. It would probably be in the millions…

Kelowna, Saskatchewan, castanet.net, December 12, 2018: Broncos – trees block view

A consulting firm says sight lines are a safety concern at the rural intersection where the deadly Humboldt Broncos bus crash happened. A 70-page safety review done for the Saskatchewan government says a stand of trees, mostly on private property, obstructs the view of drivers approaching from the south and east — the same directions the bus and semi-trailer were coming from when they collided. Negotiating with the landowner to remove the trees is one of 13 recommendations included in the report. Rumble strips, larger signs and painting “Stop” and “Stop Ahead” on the road are some of the other suggestions. Sixteen people died and 13 others were injured in the collision at an intersection north of Tisdale in April. The bus was travelling north on Highway 35 and the semi was westbound on Highway 335. Both roads have speed limits of 100 km/h. Highway 335 has a stop sign. Highway 35 does not. The review notes that because Sidhu’s charges are still before the court, RCMP investigators would not talk to consultants from McElhanney Consulting Services about the causes of the crash. The report’s authors found six collisions at the intersection between 1990 and 2017 and another 14 on roads nearby…

Abilene, Texas, Reporter, December 12, 2018: Evergreen trees more susceptible to damage from snow

Now that we’re well into December, which means winter is just a few days away, we recently had a good reminder of what winter weather can be like. And, by a good reminder, I mean cold temperatures and snow. Personally, I don’t remember a lot of December snows during my time in the Big Country, but what the heck, I’m getting pretty old, and maybe my memory is failing me. I do remember a lot of severe January/February snowstorms, but I’m kind of drawing a blank on tons of December snows. Think about it this way: How many white Christmases have we had over the years? I can recall some white Easters, but very few white Christmases. Well, cold and snow certainly means bundling up for us, but what do they mean for trees? One interesting aspect of the cold part of weather is that for plants it’s all about severity and timing. During December, temperatures in the low-30s and high-20s are no big deal, and our trees should have little trouble taking such temperatures, or even lower ones, in stride…

Portland, Oregon, KPTV, December 11, 2018: Oregon Christmas tree farmers to millennials: Buy real, not fake

Area Christmas tree farmers are losing business year after year to fake trees, and now, they are trying to buck the trend. When you move into your first house or apartment, that’s when traditions are made. Cutting down the perfect tree and putting it up around Christmas could be one of those traditions, but more and more, people are opting for fake trees. Casey Grogan with Silverbell Trees harvested 60,000 trees this year. That sounds like a lot, but it’s half of what he did just ten years ago. “We are about half the size we used to be, and I think a lot of farms are in a similar position,” Grogan said. He says, partly to blame are artificial trees, now a $1 billion business. “We’ve seen a rise in sales of artificial trees,” Grogan said. “That makes it a real challenge for real tree growers to estimate how many to put in the ground.” Artificial trees are becoming more realistic, come with pre-strung lights, and are easy to store. Between 75% and 805 of Americans who have a Christmas tree are using an artificial one…

Salt Lake City, Utah, KUTV, December 11, 2018: Read this before you cut down your own Christmas tree

Investigators are looking for the person – or persons – who felled a spruce tree on federal property. This happened on Dec. 2 by the Castle Rock campground near Richfield. That tree had been growing there, since the late 80s. A second tree was also chopped down illegally inside the campgrounds. John Zapell, with the National Forest Service, says this is not uncommon because people think they are going to get away with it. A newly-planted tree also just went missing from outside Timpanogos Cave. Zapell says if you are going to chop down your own tree, you first of all need to have a permit. Those will set you back up to $20, depending on the size of the tree you are cutting down, with the tallest being 20 feet high…

Saginaw, Michigan, News, December 11, 2018: Truck carrying Christmas trees crashes, giving unexpected gift to Saginaw County residents

A flipped semitrailer hauling hundreds of Christmas trees to Virginia became a blessing for less fortunate families throughout Saginaw County. On Monday, Dec. 10, Buena Vista police officers, firefighters and the township’s inspector delivered Christmas trees to residents who expressed they needed a tree. The truck overturned on opening day of deer season – Nov. 15 – near Sanford. Mike’s Wrecker Service of Saginaw and Cole’s Wrecker cleared the scene and the semitrailer was towed to Mike’s Wrecker’s tow yard at 2522 Hess. Bill Giorgis, co-owner of Mike’s Wrecker, worked out a deal with the insurance company and bought 500 trees the truck was hauling for $1,500. He’s selling the trees for $10 each or a donation, but also giving them to needy families who want, but can’t afford, a real tree for Christmas. Over the weekend, Giorgis donated 50 trees to Old Town Christian Outreach. He later received a call that they were running out of trees, so Giorgis had 50 more delivered. Sgt. Russ Pahssen and Officer Devin Heyn, of the Buena Vista Township Police Department, Deputy Fire Chief Aaron Hoeppner and Township Inspector Jeff Cain delivered about a dozen trees with tree stands to residents on Monday…

Mankato , Minnesota, Free Press, December 11, 2018: Plea deal for farmer who cut down memorial trees

A Beauford area farmer has pleaded guilty to cutting down a dozen trees planted as a memorial to veterans along Highway 22 last year. But he likely won’t have a criminal record if he pays restitution. Steven Peter Trio, 56, pleaded guilty to felony damage to public property Monday in Blue Earth County District Court. A similar gross misdemeanor charge was dismissed. Trio admitted to cutting down trees on highway right-of-way in July 2017 because the roots were clogging his drainage tiles and killing his crops. Many of the trees were planted along the highway in the 1950s as a tribute to veterans of World War I. The plea deal calls for Trio to receive a stay of adjudication — meaning the charge will be dismissed — if Trio pays restitution and completes probation…

Wired, December 10, 2018: The science of growing a perfect Christmas tree

Every winter, millions of Americans descend on farms and lots across the country with the express purpose of inspecting, and ultimately choosing from, their local selection of coniferous evergreen trees. I’m talking, of course, about Christmas tree shopping—the widely practiced pastime of publicly scrutinizing spruces, pines, and firs in search of the ideal yuletide centerpiece. Many people are practiced at picking the perfect tree. They’ll judge on things like color, size, shape, needle quality, and bushiness. But behind the annual selection of a coniferous house guest—some 30 million of them a year, in the US—is a ton of science. To Bert Cregg, identifying exactly what makes a tree perfect is more than a holiday tradition, it’s a major part of his job. He’s a forest researcher at Michigan State University and a renowned expert on Christmas tree production. His work covers two main areas: genetics and culture techniques. “Basically, how can we identify species and seed sources that are going to lead to better Christmas trees, and how can growers manage their farms to produce better trees,” he says… 

San Francisco, California, Chronicle, December 10, 2018: Christmas tree farmers combat popularity of artificial trees

Rosa Villarreal’s three young sons jumped and ran around the field of Christmas trees like jackrabbits, their excitement palpable as they raced from evergreen to evergreen. The boys, ages 2, 4 and 6, were picking out a real tree this year — a new tradition their young parents hope will create lasting memories. “I saw this video where the big tree, the mom decorates it, and the little tree, the kids get to decorate it,” she said, as her husband, Jason Jimenez, snapped a photo of their toddler posing with a tiny tree just his size. Christmas tree farmers across the U.S. worry families like Villarreal’s are slowly dwindling. Artificial trees, once crude imitations of an evergreen, are now so realistic that it’s hard to tell they are fakes even though many are conveniently pre-strung with lights and can fold up for storage at the push of a button. Between 75 and 80 percent of Americans who have a Christmas tree now have an artificial one, and the $1 billion market for fake trees is growing at about 4 percent a year — even though they can be reused again and again. To combat this trend, Christmas tree farmers have joined forces as the Christmas Tree Promotion Board and are running a social media ad campaign this holiday season to tout the benefits of a real evergreen. The campaign, called “It’s Christmas. Keep It Real!,” is funded by a 15-cent fee that tree farmers pay for each tree they harvest. It’s a modern-day attempt at such famous agricultural ad campaigns as “Got Milk?” and “Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner…”

Salem, Massachusetts, News, December 10, 2018: Historic tree to see new life at Artists Row

One of the city’s oldest and tallest trees came down on Monday, but its spirit will live on in the form of wooden bowls, table tops and more. The 85-foot-tall European beech tree, believed to be nearly 200 years old, was one of the last vestiges of the historic Manning Garden in North Salem. The tree stood at the corner of Orchard and Dearborn streets until Monday, when it was carefully removed by Essex-based Mayer Tree Service, after losing a brief battle with phytophtora citricola, a plant pathogen. As the tree was taken down, the Rainville family and close friends hosted a celebration honoring the tree, complete with pastries and appetizers. More than a dozen feet of the tree’s best wood was then taken by Tom Gagnon of Boston Woodturning, a shop at Artists Row downtown, to be turned into all sorts of gifts for the Rainvilles and eventual sale to the public. “The tree, we think, was planted in 1825,” said Loretta Rainville, who bought the property in the early 1960s and raised a family under the tree’s towering branches. “According to Rebecca Manning … for some reason, she was 99 when she was interviewed and she said it was (planted in) 1875 for the centennial. So there’s a controversy here…”

Woodworking Network, December 10, 2018: Forest Service to remove 360,000 acres of dead trees in huge project out West

The U.S. Forest Service has proposed a vast removal of more than 360,000 acres of dead trees from the Medicine Bow National Forest in Wyoming and Colorado. The Medicine Bow, which stretches across more than 2.2 million square miles in Wyoming and Colorado, has been devastated by beetle infestation. Millions of dead trees now fill the landscape – fueling wildfires, interfering with wildlife, and endangering campers. The proposal is to clear-cut 95,000 acres, perform selective logging on 160,000 acres, and carefully burn and hand-thin another 100,000. This amounts to roughly 30 percent of the entire forest. The plan comes at a time of common claims that forest fires are the result of mismanagement. It’s also a strong departure from the Forest Service’s usual approach, which has been focused on restoration.  “We hear a lot of comments that the forest fires today are so common or so bad because of poor forest management during the past 100 years,” says Gene Wengert, the Wood Doctor. “This statement has some truth in it, but we do need to understand that a forest fire is a natural event in nature. For example, in California, away from the coast, there’s evidence that the typical region should be burned every 27 years, thereby “cleaning up” the forest by removing the fuel source. When fires do not occur from time to time, the fuel level increases year after year. The eventual, inevitable fire is then ferocious…”

Spokane, Washington, Spokesman-Review, December 9, 2018: Using fallen trees for eco-friendly reconstruction promoted in disaster-hit northern Japan

Three months have passed since a strong earthquake hit Hokkaido in early September. In disaster-affected areas, an increasing number of people are using large numbers of trees felled by landslides. The central government, Hokkaido government, local forestry cooperatives and paper-manufacturing companies plan to cooperate with each other to use fallen trees, such as by making the shift to renewable energies by turning them into fuel for stove heaters and biomass power generation, as well as making paper and lumber from them. Through such efforts, they aim to achieve eco-friendly reconstruction from the earthquake. “There are no parts of a tree that can be throw away. We can use fallen trees as energy sources without wasting any parts,” Tatsuo Kobayashi, 46, an official at the Hobetsu processing center of the Tomakomai wide-area forestry cooperative in Mukawa, Hokkaido, said in late November, while looking at piles of logs…

Greensboro, North Carolina, WFMY-TV, December 9, 2018: One person dies after tree falls on car in Matthews

One person is dead after a tree fell on a car, officials say. According to Medic, paramedics responded to a report on East John Street and Charles Buckley Way in Matthews. One person was pronounced deceased by the paramedics. Matthews Police Department officers responded to the area at approximately 4:16 p.m.  According to police, the vehicle was struck by a falling tree just before the intersection of Charles Buckley Way. After the tree fell on the car, the vehicle drove through the front lawn of Matthews Church of God on the 500 block of East John Street. The vehicle then struck the front of the church, causing minor damage, before coming to a stop in the next door residential yard, police say…

Brainerd, Minnesota, Dispatch, December 9, 2018: The last Christmas: Central Minnesota tree farm to close, neighbor faces uncertain future

Hidden from view along a country lane north of Baxter is a humble meadow dotted with young evergreens. But for many lakes area families, it’s so much more than that. It’s a patch of land that’s witnessed the unbridled joy of children for two generations, offered countless neighborhood teens first jobs as “elves” and provided thousands of Christmases with the season’s most cherished symbol — the tree. And this December will be its last. “I used to say somebody would drive in here and they’d be all grumpy,” said Susan Schmidt, co-owner of Christmas tree farm Love Lake Trees, “and then they’d leave with a big smile on their face.” Susan and husband Allen Schmidt have been preparing for the farm’s closing chapters — they quit planting new firs, spruces and pines two years ago, and are sharing the news with regular customers who’ve come for this year’s tree. Age — they’re both in their early 70s — and the call of warm weather are factors in the Schmidts’ decision to end the farm’s run, but two consecutive summers of violent storms hastened its exit…

Paonia, Colorado, High Country News, December 9, 2018: In Oregon, a mysterious tree grove conjures a colder time

Botanists have a joke about time, distance and themselves. Where most people walk about three miles in an hour, botanists will tell you they dawdle along at one mile every three hours. After all, it is only when you pause that the green blur of a forest resolves into individual species. Joe Rausch, head botanist for the Malheur National Forest in Oregon, claims to be different, though. The barrel-chested 44-year-old looks more like a firefighter than someone fascinated by the genetics of miner’s lettuce plants. “I am impatient for a botanist,” he said. This “impatience” is relative. It’s true that Rausch strode down the trail, deep in central Oregon’s Aldrich Mountains, well ahead of forest geneticist Andy Bower and former Forest Service Northwest region botanist Mark Skinner, who stopped every 20 feet to inspect a new wildflower, exclaiming, “You don’t want to walk by all this stuff, do ya?” But as we switch-backed down a hot, bright slope of yellowing grass, Rausch also lingered over his fair share of plants, especially trees emblematic of the mountain range’s parched climate — juniper, ponderosa pine, mountain mahogany dangling with horsehair lichen. It was a good thing, too: Our destination was the kind you can easily miss, where a few steps take you into a different world…

Phys.org, December 6, 2018: Missing the forest for the trees: An unexpected picture of New York City forests

In recent years, most efforts to expand New York City’s tree canopy—and thus strengthen the urban environment—have focused on planting new street trees or replacing non-native species with native trees in the city’s remaining forests. Yet citywide assessments have found that non-native trees have come to co-dominate the city landscape, calling into question these management strategies and the very value of urban forests. Those assessments might have been looking in the wrong place, according to a new study by Yale scientists and the Natural Areas Conservancy. In a comprehensive inventory of the city’s expansive yet overlooked “forested natural areas,” the team of researchers found that native species still comprise about 82 percent of New York City’s forest stands. And it is in these natural areas where the majority of the city’s trees are located: more than 5 million in these landscapes compared with about 666,000 street trees. Forested natural areas are essentially places that look and feel like “the woods” or “forests” as they are more traditionally known, as opposed to urban forest areas typified by street trees and park trees in addition to natural areas. Natural areas exist in stands, or groups of stands, often growing together in patches across the landscape…

Hollywood, California, Patch.com, December 6, 2018: Hollywood trees spared from ax after legal battle

Fourteen of 18 ficus trees in Hollywood that are the focus of a legal battle and demonstrations after the city had slated them for removal will be spared, Los Angeles City Councilman David Ryu said Thursday. The trees on the 1200 block of Cherokee Avenue were scheduled to be cut down according to a summer report from the Bureau of Street Services, which said the removals were needed in order to fix the sidewalks. Two groups, United Neighborhoods for Los Angeles and Eastside Nature Alliance, took legal action to try and stop the removals, and a court injunction put the final decision in the hands of the City Council. Ryu said he worked with the Bureau of Street services on a solution, and a new report issued by the bureau concludes that 14 can be spared the ax. “When I was first told that all 18 of these beautiful, mature trees had to be removed to fix the broken sidewalks on Cherokee Street, I thought `there must be a better way.’ We cannot pit sidewalk repair against protecting our urban canopy,” Ryu said. “This report makes clear – we can do both…”

Houston, Texas, KTRK-TV, December 6, 2018: Special tree holds place of honor over Pres. George HW Bush

President George H.W. Bush and his family will forever be shaded thanks to a local farmer. Residing about an hour north of Houston is a tree farm that takes its products very serious. “We’re a mom and pop operation,” U.S. Trees of Texas owner David Kleimann said. U.S. Trees of Texas has more than 60 types of trees including hedges, evergreens, and ornamentals. “They are the top beauty of any live oak tree I’ve ever grown, and I’ve been doing this for 35 years,” Kleimann said. The Cathedral Live Oak tree is cell produced and is known to stand above any other tree. “What that means is that you look at each and every other tree that’s in this line,” Kleimann said. “Each and every limb are in the same place on every tree…”

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Tribune, December 7, 2018: Murrysville native works to ‘Fight the Blight’ among Slippery Rock pear trees

Main Street in Slippery Rock is lined with a large number of Cleveland Select flowering pear trees, whose snow-white blossoms typically appear for a few weeks in April.  Unfortunately, many of the trees look as though they have burnt leaves, the result of a contagious pathogen called fire blight.  Luke Gregory, a Slippery Rock University senior and Murrysville native, is hoping to change that.  “Plants don’t complain,” Gregory said. “Trees are often overlooked so people have to look out for them. This fire blight has swept through and infected a lot of them (along Main Street), so we’re trying to remove the trees that have it and plant a greater diversity of trees.” With that in mind, Gregory and SRU biology professor David Krayesky started  Fight the Blight . The project’s goal is to remove infected pear trees and replace them with new species such as Kousa dogwoods, redbuds and Washington Hawthorns, while increasing the variety of species near Main Street to include hornbeams, ivory silks, Linden trees, Prospector elms and royal burgundy flowering cherry trees…

South Bend, Indiana, Tribune, December 5, 2018: Elkhart resident and his son feel like Grinch stole city Christmas tree from their yard

The community will gather Friday night at Civic Plaza for a ceremonial lighting of a Christmas tree, historically a symbol of life and hope during the holiday season. Here in Elkhart, it’s part of the Winterfest celebration. But the way this year’s Christmas tree was obtained has angered a property owner and his father, a situation city Building and Grounds Department head Mike Lightner says he regrets. About 9:40 a.m. on Nov. 26, Dennis Morman said he was surprised to wake up and look out his window to see a city crew cutting down the 33-foot Colorado Spruce from the tree lawn, the city-owned area between the street and sidewalk, next to his yard at 800 W. Lusher Ave. Dennis said he had recently trimmed the tree back because its branches had overtaken the sidewalk, prompting a visit from a city employee who warned him that if he trimmed it again, he could be held liable for damaging the tree, which the city had valued at $16,000 to $18,000. “It was a gorgeous tree,” Dennis said. During that initial visit, the municipal employee said the city might use it for the Civic Plaza display, but nothing was certain, Dennis said. He and his son, Kyle, a South Bend native who lives in Georgia and rents the home to his father, said the city should have shown them the courtesy of at least discussing its removal with them first. Their anger highlights the confusion some people have about city tree lawns. Residents are required to cut grass and weeds there, but the city maintains its trees, Lightner said…

Rockford, Illinois, Register Star, December 5, 2018: Tree fungus ‘as detrimental as Dutch elm’ disease affects blue spruce, including Rockford’s official Christmas tree

If you peer past the ornaments and outer branches at the base of the city’s official Christmas tree— a broad and bulky 40-foot-tall blue spruce — you’ll find yellow and brown needles along with bare limbs more fitting for Charlie Brown’s famously sad seedling than downtown’s holiday centerpiece. The tree that’s the focal point of the city’s Stroll on State is a victim of a widespread problem disfiguring blue spruces across the region. It suffers from a disease called Rhizosphaera needle cast — pronounced rye-zo-sphere-uh — which has drawn comparisons with the Dutch elm disease epidemic and emerald ash borer that nearly wiped out those trees in northern Illinois. Arborists and other tree care experts say the scourge of Rhizosphaera has surged over the past three to five years, forcing landscapers and homeowners to take down the ornamental tree known for its dense, powder-blue needles. “I think their time has passed here,” said Tim Gruner, garden curator for Anderson Japanese Gardens, the region’s premier public garden. “I wouldn’t plant a blue spruce anywhere in the region…”

Durango, Colorado, Herald, December 5, 2018: Need a tree? Take the train

The San Juan Mountains are chock-full of trees. So many, in fact, that the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad has to cut some down to help prevent potential wildfires. Now, as the holiday season approaches, the railway is enlisting the help of its riders to reduce fire risk – giving residents a chance to cut down a tree for the holiday season. D&SNG is offering trips to the high country for residents to pick out, cut down and bring home a tree from the mountains for the holiday season. The train has been making the opportunity available for the past four years, said Christian Robbins, spokesman for the D&SNG. Robbins said the service began with a question that sprouted in mind: Why don’t people go to the San Juan Mountains for holiday trees anymore? He did it when he was a kid, but not many people have continued the tradition. And the trees need to be cut down anyway, so why not put them to good use, he said.  Robbins took some time the next summer in Cascade Canyon to look at the trees that need to be cut down. They’re all short trees, the ones that burn most in wildfires. Those trees also make for perfect indoor decorations. The D&SNG makes a trip through Cascade Canyon anyway, so why not bring people there to cut down trees for the holidays, Robbins said…

Providence, Rhode Island, Star, December 5, 2018: Environment: Hot, dry summers have killed trees covering nearly 50,000 forest acres

About 13 percent of Rhode Island’s forest trees are dead, state environmental officials have concluded, the result of an unprecedented combination of heat, drought and insect infestations from 2015 to last year. The area of dead trees is concentrated across the western half of the state, from Hopkinton to Burrillville, with pockets on Prudence Island and the Sakonnet Peninsula, according to the just-completed assessment by the state Department of Environmental Management. While there are some large contiguous swatches of mortality — in places such as Richmond, West Greenwich and Foster — the tree death is, for the most part, diffuse, with pockets spread throughout rural and suburban communities. All told, the area of death totals about 45,000 to 50,000 acres, short of initial estimates that put the number at nearly twice as much, but still a large portion of Rhode Island’s 369,000 acres of forest. The assessment by Paul Ricard, forest health program coordinator for the DEM, was based on an aerial survey he conducted in September. The tree mortality may be a sign of things to come. Recent research summarized in the scientific journal Forestry found that climate change can facilitate the spread of both native and invasive forest pests and weaken the resistance of trees to these pests. The new update to the National Climate Assessment, released last month, makes a similar warning…

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2 thoughts on “And Now The News …

  1. Rest In Peace Sweet Tripp Halstead. No more hurting. You can go play in the Lords garden. We love you. We will miss you. My heart breaks for a little boy I never met. Prayers for his family. 😭😭🙏🏻

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