And Now The News …

Agana, Guam, Stars & Stripes, April 1, 2020: Beetles are wiping out Guam palms, including those at Andersen’s Palm Tree Golf Course

The way things are going, the Air Force may have to come up with a new name for its golf course at the home of the 36th Wing on Guam. The Palm Tree Golf Course, as Andersen’s 18 holes are known, is infested with voracious coconut rhinoceros beetles, Oryctes rhinoceros, whose meals of choice are the coconut palms that the links are named for. Course manager Steven O’Hearne can only watch from his clubhouse — formerly the base officer’s club — as the beetles gnaw their way, one-by-one, through the beautiful palm trees outside. The damage caused by the tenacious insects is visible yards from the clubhouse door where several nearby coconut trees are on their last legs. Stripped of fronds, the diseased trees look a little like telephone poles. The University of Guam College of Natural and Applied Science has a website devoted to waging war on the invasive beetles, which were discovered on the U.S. island territory in 2007…

Wired, April 1, 2020: Why Old-Growth Trees Are Crucial to Fighting Climate Change

Ken Bible steps over a carpet of bracken and vanilla leaf to get closer to the big Douglas fir. He gives its furrowed bark an affectionate slap, as if introducing a prize racehorse. “It’s about 70 meters tall and 2.6 meters in diameter,” Bible says, leaning back to take in the behemoth stretching above him. From way down here on the shady floor of the forest, he has no hope of seeing all the way to the tree’s top. But thanks to a 279-foot-high tower that rises above the trees, Bible, who helps manage this site on behalf of the US Forest Service, has had the chance to know this old Doug from above as well as below. From hundreds of feet up, at canopy level, he says, you begin to get a new vision of the complexity of structure that defines an old forest. “It looks like a mountain range,” Bible says. “You’ve got ridges and peaks and valleys.” Singular trees like the big Doug reach high over their neighbors. At around 500 years of age, it isn’t the oldest tree in the forest, but a lucky location near a wetland has made it one of the biggest. The Doug is lucky in other ways too. Once upon a time, its particular seed happened to fall from a particular drying cone into what, hundreds of years later, would become a small section of protected old growth inside the Wind River Experimental Forest, a research area in southern Washington state originally created to study the best ways to exploit forests for human use…

Ars Technica, April 1, 2020: BBC’s 1957 April Fool’s “spaghetti-tree hoax” is more relevant than ever

We here at Ars do not typically indulge in the online prankery that comes with April Fool’s Day and are even less inclined to do so in the current climate. But it does provide an opportunity to revisit one of the most famous media hoaxes of the 20th century: the so-called “spaghetti-tree hoax,” the result of a two-and-a-half-minute prank segment broadcast on the BBC’s Panorama current-affairs program on April Fool’s Day in 1957. It’s a fun, albeit cautionary, tale of not believing everything you see on television (or read online). The man largely responsible for the hoax was Austrian-born Panorama cameraman Charles de Jaeger, who liked to play practical jokes. As a kid, one of his school teachers used to tell the class, “Boys, you’re so stupid, you’d believe me if I told you that spaghetti grows on trees.” De Jaeger had always wanted to turn this into an April Fool’s prank, and in 1957, he saw his chance. April Fool’s Day fell on a Monday, the same night Panorama aired. He argued that he could do the shoot cheaply while working on another assignment in Switzerland, and Panorama editor Michael Peacock approved a tiny budget of £100 for the project. The sequence was shot at a hotel in Castiglione on the shore of Lake Lugano. De Jaeger bought 20 pounds of uncooked homemade spaghetti and hung the strands from the branches of the laurel trees around the lake to make it seem like they were “spaghetti trees”…

Forbes, April 1, 2020: Turning Olive Tree Branches Into Biofuel For Clean Energy

The road to sustainable farming is not just about saying goodbye to pesticides and chemical fertilizers and going organic. In the olive-oil producing region of Puglia in Southern Italy, olive farmers are converting agricultural waste into a source of clean energy. Branches cut down during the olive harvest are collected from farms surrounding the small town of Calimera and turned into wood chippings. The chippings are used as a biofuels that feed the boiler of a local power plant. But unlike other biomass power plants, this system does not use the hot water from the boiler to drive a steam turbine. Instead, the water passes through a heat exchanger, which contains a separate fluid with a lower boiling point than water, operating in a closed loop. The resulting vapor drives an Organic Rankine Cycle (ORC) turbine, rotating at a relatively slow RPM. This system can generate power from lower temperatures, making it more energy efficient…

Futurity, March 31, 2020: How Dead Trees Help Forests Tolerate Drought

As the climate changes, forests have figured out a way to adapt to drought, a new study shows. Researchers used the US Forest Service Forest Inventory and Analysis database to study how the traits of tree communities have shifted across the contiguous United States. The results indicate that communities, particularly in more arid regions, have become more drought tolerant, primarily through the death of less hardy trees. To understand what might drive changes in forests’ ability to cope with climate change, the researchers considered two main physiological traits: a species’ average tolerance to water stress and how close this was to its maximum tolerance (essentially how much wiggle room it had when dealing with water stress). “We basically put a number on what species composition means in terms of their ability to deal with water stress,” says Anna Trugman, an assistant professor in the geography department at the University of California, Santa Barbara and lead author of the paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Fortunately for the team, the US Department of Agriculture tracks tree species, size, and abundance in more than 160,000 forest plots randomly distributed across the country. What’s more, the US Forest Service Forest Inventory and Analysis database includes over 200 different types of ecosystems including dry pinyon pine forests, cypress swamps, Atlantic hardwood forests, and the temperate rainforests of the Pacific Northwest…

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, March 31, 2020: Bioprospecting for Industrial Enzymes and Drug Compounds in an Ancient Submarine Forest

Nearly 60,000 years ago, a bald cypress forest flourished on the banks of a prehistoric river near the Gulf of Mexico. Over time, the massive trees grew and died, their enormous trunks falling and becoming entombed in a protective covering of peat and sediment. As sea level rose and the coastline receded, these ancient forest remains were buried beneath the sea surface off the coast of Alabama, where they remained undisturbed for millennia. Intensifying storms along the coast, however, have scoured the seafloor, beginning to expose this ancient submarine forest. Now, a team of scientists from Northeastern University and the University of Utah, funded by the NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research (OER), are working to unlock the forest’s secrets, including its potential to harbor new compounds for medicine and biotechnology. As demand grows for discovery of novel industrial enzymes and new medicines, researchers are increasingly looking towards the ocean. Marine animals and their symbiotic microorganisms that live on and in wood have recently been shown to be a potentially rich source for biomolecules of high biopharmaceutical and biotechnological value. To this end, this research team is exploring the biodiversity and economic potential of the submerged forest off the Alabama coast, which provides an unusually large, biodiverse, and temporally stable wood-associated marine habitat for them to study. The team’s focus is on bacteria found in wood-eating “shipworms,” a type of clam (teredinid bivalve). These “termites of the sea” convert wood into animal tissue, forming the base of a food chain that can support a rich diversity of fish, invertebrates, and microorganisms in communities that resemble thriving coral reefs…

Yahoo UK, April 1, 2020: Strange tree ‘crop circles’ are being spotted in Japan

Strange ‘crop circles’ made of cedar trees are being spotted in Japan. While many often attribute such formations to aliens, Japan’s ministry of agriculture, forestry and fisheries is certain these are made by humans. So how exactly did the strange phenomenon happen…

Palm Springs, California, Desert Sun, March 31, 2020: ‘Like a black hole’: Desert Hot Springs man reports beehive in nearby tree

A Desert Hot Springs man expressed concern Tuesday regarding a large beehive he found near his home. The hive is located near Mountain View Road. Richard Emmons, a 70-year-old veteran, said he’d suffered a bee sting near his eye. He added that the hive is “like a black hole in the tree.” He said he wants the bees removed, but has had trouble finding someone to get rid of them. He said he believes the hive poses a threat to those who come into close contact, especially children and seniors. Desert Hot Springs spokeswoman Doria Wilms said the city is going to look into removing the hive or helping Emmons find a group that can remove the hive…

Motley Fool, March 30, 2020: What to Do if Your Neighbor’s Tree Is Impacting Your Property

Trees are a lovely thing — until they become intrusive or hazardous. If you have a dead tree on your property, cutting it down could be a smart move. That way, you don’t run the risk of it falling and wrecking your property, or worse yet, hurting someone. But what if your neighbor has a tree that’s impacting your property — say, a dead one that could fall and shatter your fence at any time, or a thriving one that perpetually scatters leaves and debris into your yard? What can you do? You can’t march into your neighbor’s yard and cut down a tree that isn’t yours. But what you can do is express concern that his or her tree is at risk of damaging your property the next time a big storm rolls around. Your neighbor may agree to take it down. Or, if you’re really worried, you can offer to split the cost of removing that tree with your neighbor. Though you may not want to go that route, as the tree is technically not your responsibility, sharing in that cost could spare you a world of hassle. If your neighbor refuses to budge and insists on leaving the tree in place, express your concerns in writing via email or a certified letter. That way, if that tree does damage your property, you can prove that your neighbor may have been negligent by not taking it down. Now if the tree in question isn’t dangerous, but just needs a major trimming to avoid hanging into your yard or scattering leaves everywhere, that’s a slightly different conversation. In that case, you might ask permission to just do the work yourself, if you’re willing…

London, UK, Independent, March 31, 2020: Coronavirus: Gardening Industry At ‘Crisis Point’ As Millions Of Plants And Trees To Be Thrown Away

The horticultural industry is at “crisis” point, a trade body has warned, as the coronavirus pandemic forces the closure of garden centres across the UK. Growers – many of them family businesses – could be forced to bin millions of pounds worth of plants and trees because they have no buyers for their products, The Horticultural Trades Association said (HTA). It called on the government to step in and provide financial assistance of up to £250 million to help the industry avoid imminent collapse. The HTA said around 650 businesses across the UK produce ornamental crops, contributing £1.4 billion to the economy each year. It added that the sector employs more than 15,000 people directly and almost 30,000 indirectly. Sales have plunged since Mother’s Day – one of the busiest periods for the sector – when people had already begun to self-isolate, the trade body added. The coronavirus lockdown means it is unlikely that sales will see a resurgence over the Easter and May bank holidays…

Russia Beyond, March 16, 2020: Why are Russians so crazy about birch trees?

While traveling for a long time abroad, a Russian often misses his “native birches”. To hold a birch tree tight and cry… that’s the only thing a Russian wants to do in a melancholic mood. Why, you ask? It’s all because of the ancient Slavs. As the birch tree was one of the most widespread trees across Central Russia, it was considered as a tree of “Russian nationality”. Ancient Slavs didn’t come across the massive Siberian fir forests until the 16th century expansion to Siberia – and a fir tree is actually not so easy to hug! Sometimes even modern Russians are surprised that birches not only grow in Russia. How is it possible? Our birches!? According to multiple folk proverbs and beliefs (described in Alexander Strizhev’s ‘Calendar of Russian Nature’ book), ancient pagan Slavs considered hugging a birch tree as a sign of good luck – it would also give you power and joy. Moreover, a birch tree was considered magical…

Phys.org, March 31, 2020: Researchers investigate how forests are changing in response to global warming

As the climate is changing, so too are the world’s forests. From the misty redwoods in the west to the Blue Ridge forest of Appalachia, many sylvan ecosystems are adapting to drier conditions. Using the U.S. Forest Service Forest Inventory and Analysis database, researchers at UC Santa Barbara, the University of Utah and the U.S. Forest Service have studied how the traits of tree communities are shifting across the contiguous United States. The results, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, indicate that communities, particularly in more arid regions, are becoming more drought tolerant, primarily through the death of less hardy trees. To understand what might be driving changes in the ability of forests to cope with climate change, the scientists considered two main physiological traits: a species’ average tolerance to water stress and how close this was to its maximum tolerance (essentially how much wiggle room it had when dealing with water stress)…

Albany, New York, Times-Union, March 27, 2020: Costco site in Guilderland is suddenly devoid of trees

In a development that opponents of the project say was carried out with astonishing speed, work crews hired by Crossgates Mall owner Pyramid Management on Thursday removed most of the trees on the site of a planned Costco store and gas station. The work came to an abrupt halt Thursday afternoon when Guilderland Supervisor Peter Barber sent the local Pyramid affiliate, Releaseco LLC, a cease and desist order. Because the site is being reviewed under New York’s State Environmental Quality Review or SEQR program, it wasn’t supposed to be disturbed until the review is completed. “It was a big wooded lot that is no longer a big wooded lot,” said Steve Wickham, a local opponent of the development. “It was almost entirely clear cut.” Pyramid officials did not respond to an email on Friday. A phone message at their Syracuse headquarters noted that the staff are working remotely. The cutting, which observers said was done with chain saws and bulldozer-sized tree removal machines. The lot wasn’t supposed to be disturbed while under SEQR review. But a notice announcing the tree cutting on Guilderland’s planning office website explained that state and federal wildlife law largely prevents cutting trees between April 1 and Oct. 31 in areas where Northern long-eared bats are present. The bats hibernate in caves during winter, but emerge in spring and take up residence in this area, among other spots. Tree cutting would disturb them…

Boston, Massachusetts, Glove, March 29, 2020: Maine officials investigate report of tree being cut down to quarantine out-of-towners

Authorities in Maine are investigating a report that several people with guns had cut down a tree on the island of Vinalhaven to block a road so that some people would be quarantined in their home. The Knox County Sheriff’s Office posted on its Facebook page that when law enforcement arrived, they found the felled tree and said it had been dragged into the road to block it. They said deputies learned that some island residents believe the people staying in the home are supposed to be quarantined because they came from out of state. The sheriff’s office said the trio had been staying on Vinalhaven for about 30 days and none have symptoms consistent with COVID-19. Maine reported two more deaths from the virus on Sunday, bringing to total to three. One of the two who died was a man in his 60s from Cumberland County who was a long-time employee of the Maine Department of Transportation, Gov. Janet Mills said. Meanwhile, in Vermont, State Police there are visiting hotels and motels to make sure that they are closed under Vermont Governor Phil Scott’s order to slow the spread of the virus, police said Sunday…

Baltimore, Maryland, Sun, March 28, 2020: Coronavirus pandemic delays tree-cutting incident in Annapolis tied to Hogan Cos.

Anne Arundel County has cited the owner of a property on Bestgate Road with grading without a permit after 14 trees were cut down without a permit but has yet to pursue the incident under its new, tougher forest conservation law. The County Council had, despite argument over other aspects of bill 68-19, agreed that the cost for clearing in violation of the forest conservation law should increase from 80 cents per square foot to $4.50 per square foot to deter cutting. County Council President Alison Pickard said the intent was for that figure to be applied as a fine or penalty. If that $4.50 was assessed for the 16,351 square feet developers have been cited with clearing off Bestgate Road, it would amount to a fine of $73,579.50, Environmental Policy Director Matt Johnston said. But Johnston said the county are still awaiting guidance from the Office of Law on how the Department of Inspections and Permits, Office of Planning and Zoning, and the Office of Law can enforce violations. As the coronavirus pandemic has worsened, and more cases have been announced in the state and county, non-essential matters have been put aside. The guidance is still being drafted and reviewed, Johnston said, as the office of law is focusing on “confronting and stopping the spread of the virus…”

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, KDKA-TV, March 29, 2020: Mother And Daughter Taken To Hospital After Tree Falls On Them

A mother and her 3-year-old daughter are injured after a tree fell on them in Cascade Park in New Castle. Diana Palumbo suffered a series of fractures and a punctured lung. Her daughter suffered a fractured skull. The incident happened Sunday afternoon in between the park pavilions and the creek. They were taken to Shenango Fire Hall. From there, choppers took them to two separate hospitals. The mother was taken to a Youngstown Hospital while the daughter was flown to UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh. They were taken to the hospital in critical condition but both are now in stable condition. According to the grandfather, they are hopeful for a full recovery. “You feel dread and shock,” said Gerald Anastasia. “You see the tree. It snapped 30 feet from the base, so it was a hard hit. My daughter has a series of fractures, a punctured lung, and the little granddaughter has a fractured skull. They’re stable right now and so we hope in a matter of time that they’re going to have a full recovery…”

Chicago, Illinois, Sun Times, March 25, 2020: Residential street sweeping, tree trimming and tree removal could end until Chicago wins coronavirus war

Tree trimming and removal, along with street sweeping, may be suspended until the city wins the war on the coronavirus — or at least turns the corner, a top mayoral aide said Wednesday. The Chicago Department of Streets and Sanitation could be forced to halt those key housekeeping services, which aldermen and their constituents hold dear, said Streets and Sanitation Commissioner John Tully. He plans to discuss the potential cutbacks with all 50 aldermen during a conference call on Friday. He plans to tell the aldermen what he told the Sun-Times on Wednesday: that it’s virtually impossible to continue street sweeping and tree trimming when people are cooped up in their homes, some afraid to leave, and the city has issued orders to suspend ticketing, towing and booting of illegally parked vehicles except when it impacts public safety. “When we street sweep, we post the street and say, `You need to not park on this side of the street. You need to have your car not there.’ Well, we’re not really towing unless there’s emergencies right now,” Tully said…

Eureka Alert, March 25, 2020: New framework will help decide which trees are best in the fight against air pollution

A study from the University of Surrey has provided a comprehensive guide on which tree species are best for combatting air pollution that originates from our roads – along with suggestions for how to plant these green barriers to get the best results. In a paper published in npj Climate and Atmospheric Science, air pollution experts from Surrey’s Global Centre for Clean Air Research (GCARE) conducted a wide-ranging literature review of research on the effects of green infrastructure (trees and hedges) on air pollution. The review found that there is ample evidence of green infrastructure’s ability to divert and dilute pollutant plumes or reduce outdoor concentrations of pollutants by direct capture, where some pollutants are deposited on plant surfaces. As part of their critical review, the authors identified a gap in information to help people – including urban planners, landscape architects and garden designers – make informed decisions on which species of vegetation to use and, crucially, what factors to consider when designing a green barrier…

St. Louis, Missouri, Post-Dispatch, March 25, 2020: Got time to dig a hole? Forest ReLeaf of Missouri offers a drive-thru tree pickup service

If you have enough time to dig a hole in your backyard during your self-quarantine, Forest ReLeaf of Missouri is offering take-out service for trees. Buy your tree online, and then come to your scheduled drive-thru time at CommuniTree Gardens Nursery in Creve Coeur Park on March 31 and April 7 from 9-11 a.m. or 2-4 p.m. The Tree Take-Out Tuesdays is one way for residents to continue planting trees while practicing healthy social distancing. The nonprofit offers a variety of Missouri native species trees and shrubs, and a portion of the proceeds goes back to its programs. “Tree Take-Out gives people an outlet for positive action during this time of uncertainty,” Meridith Perkins, the group’s executive director, said in a statement. “It encourages everyone to experience the restorative value of nature while creating a beautiful, healthy habitat for you, your neighbors, and the natural community…”

AlphaGalileo, March 26, 2020: Under Extreme Heat and Drought, Trees Hardly Benefit from an Increased CO2 Level

Due to greenhouse gas-induced climate change, trees are increasingly exposed to extreme drought and heat. The question of how the increased CO2 concentration in the atmosphere influences physiological reaction of the trees under climate stress, however, is highly controversial. Carbon dioxide is known to be the main nutrient of plants. By photosynthesis, plants use sunlight to convert CO2 and water into carbohydrates and biomass. Periods of drought and heat, however, increase the stress level of the trees. Their roots have difficulties reaching the water. To reduce evaporation losses, trees close the stomata of their leaves, as a result of which they take up less CO2 from the air.These relationships have now been studied in more detail by the Plant Ecophysiology Lab of the Atmospheric Environmental Research Division of KIT’s Institute of Meteorology and Climate Research (IMK-IFU), KIT’s Campus Alpine in Garmisch-Partenkirchen. Together with scientists of Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, the University of Vienna, and Weizmann Institute of Science in Rechovot/Israel, KIT researchers studied the impact of an increased CO2 concentration on carbon metabolism and water use efficiency of Aleppo pines (pinus halepensis) under drought and heat…

 

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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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