And Now The News …

New Atlas, July 7, 2020: Beverly Hills to turn green with $2 billion tree-filled development

A sizable area of Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, is set to turn green – literally – thanks to a new plant and tree-filled development designed by Foster + Partners. Assuming all goes to plan, the project will create two new residential towers and a hotel, and will feature sustainable design, including extensive greywater recycling to meet its considerable irrigation needs. The project, named One Beverly Hills, is being created in collaboration with Gensler, landscape architect Mark Rios, and developers Alagem Capital Group and Cain International. It will be located on a 17.5 acre (roughly 7 hectare) site currently home to the Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills and Beverly Hilton hotels. The existing hotels will be integrated into the new development, which will add an “ultra-luxury hotel,” two greenery-covered residential high-rise towers containing 303 residences in total, and a pavilion with retail and dining space. There will also be 4.5 acres (1.2 hectares) of publicly accessible botanical gardens and sculpture gardens, with pathways and extensive landscaping. In all, over 300 species of plants and trees will be planted…

Palm Springs, California, Desert Sun, July 7, 2020: UC Riverside scientists discover treatment for disease that threatens California citrus trees

UC Riverside today announced that its scientists have discovered a new treatment for a disease that has affected millions of acres of citrus crops worldwide and continues to threaten crops in California’s citrus hot spots including Riverside County. Fingertip-sized, moth-like flying insects spread citrus greening disease, also known as Huanglongbing or HLB, which can destroy plants’ vascular systems and render fruits misshapen and unsellable, and typically kills infected trees within a few years. The new treatment is an antimicrobial peptide that kills the bacterium in affected crops. It’s a naturally occurring molecule found in wild citrus relatives, but it needs to be applied a few times each year to fend off new insects that can keep re-infecting crops as time goes on. There remains no one-time systemic cure for the disease, although researchers contend the new treatment can be sprayed on healthy crops periodically as a preventive measure…

Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania Post, July 7, 2020: Family that lost hundreds of trees to failed pipeline project settles with company, gets land back

A Northeastern Pennsylvania family who watched as work crews, accompanied by armed federal marshals, destroyed their budding maple tree farm to make way for the failed Constitution Pipeline has settled with the company Williams for an undisclosed amount. A federal court has also vacated the eminent domain taking of about five acres, reversing an order it made more than five years ago. “We’re really glad that it’s ended,” said Catherine Holleran, co-owner of the 23-acre property that has been in the family for 50 years. “We’ve gotten our land returned to us. That was our main objective right from the first.” The Constitution Pipeline project would have carried Marcellus Shale gas from Pennsylvania to New York state. Though the project received federal approval and the necessary permits from Pennsylvania regulators, New York blocked the pipeline by not issuing permits. Williams dropped the project in February. The Holleran family of New Milford fought a lengthy battle to prevent the company from building the pipeline across their property. But in March 2016, the crews arrived at the 23-acre farm in rural Susquehanna County along with the federal marshalls, who wore bullet proof vests and carried semi-automatic weapons. The crew spent several days clearing about 558 trees, including some that were hundreds of years old…

National Science Foundation, July 7, 2020: Warming reduces trees’ ability to slow climate change

The world’s forests play an important role in mitigating climate change. Trees are carbon sinks — they absorb more carbon dioxide than they emit. But according to new National Science Foundation-funded research, the most prolific tree in North America, the Douglas fir, will absorb less atmospheric carbon dioxide in the future and therefore do less to slow climate change. “More warming for trees could mean more stress, more tree death and less capacity to slow global warming,” said University of Arizona dendrochronologist Margaret Evans. Dendrochronology is the scientific method of dating tree rings, which can provide data on climate and atmospheric conditions. “Until now, forests have stabilized the climate, but as they become more drought-stressed, they could become a destabilizing carbon source,” Evans said. Evans is senior author of a study published in Global Change Biology. To study the impact Douglas firs could have on future climate, researchers gathered a massive amount of data to understand the relationship between tree-ring width and climate. Tree rings are annual layers of growth made of carbon. When rings are thinner, that suggests the trees pulled less carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. “We chose to study Douglas firs because they have a huge environmental niche,” Evans said. “Douglas firs grow in the western half of North America, ranging from as far south as the mountains of southern Mexico, to the mountain peaks punctuating the Sonoran Desert, to the Pacific Northwest rainforests, to the frigid peaks of the Rocky Mountains…”

Lansing, Michigan, WSYM-TV, July 6, 2020: Homeowner tries to protect 100-year-old tree from sidewalk project

A Delhi Township woman is vowing to do whatever it takes to protect a more than 100-year-old tree on her property from a sidewalk construction project. The project is a part of the “Safe Routes 2 School” program. Holt Public Schools and Delhi Charter Township received a grant from the state to make safer routes for children walking to and from school. “I contacted the community development as soon as it started and I said, you know I have this big tree out front,” said homeowner Jessica Bouvier. “I really want to make sure you guys don’t cut into the roots, so is there any way that we can build above the tree so we don’t kill it.” Construction crews plan to work to remove earth and clear a path to level the ground in front of the tree for a sidewalk. Monday, Bouvier stood in front of the tree to prevent that from happening. She said the township previously told her the tree’s root system would be avoided. “It would cut into more roots and it would definitely kill this tree, for sure,” Bouvier said. “I had an arborist come out here he said if they cut into it, it’s going to die…”

Concord, New Hampshire, Monitor, July 6, 2020: If you want a tree that will last a century, what should you plant?

Everybody knew that COVID-19 would bring a lot of changes but I’m not sure many people anticipated society’s sudden love of bushy trees. “This is our busiest spring ever. We have never sold as many big trees as we have this year,” is how Rob Farquhar, garden center manager at Brochu Nursery in Concord, put it. What’s the COVID connection? Social distancing. “People say: How can I hide my neighbor? I’ve never been home this much!” Farquhar said. “They want big shade trees and evergreen screening.” Even without neighbors to hide from, I’ve spent a lot more time contemplating the trees on my property during these stay-at-home months and have become positively Lorax-like in my admiration. When you really look at trees you have to admit that they are weird, monstrous, incredibly cool things. But they also seem imperiled. I’ve lost track of how many of our tree species are being attacked by invasive insects, invasive plants, new diseases, the shifting climate or a combination of all four. Pine, oak, maple, hemlock; varieties of each seem like potential candidates to join elm and chestnut – and, soon, ash – on the list of tree species wiped out in North America. That leads to a question: What should I plant if I want the tree to last for a century or more and turn into a gorgeous giant like a century-old ash tree I’ve admired in a neighboring town?

Denver, Colorado, KCNC-TV, July 6, 2020: Forest Service Shuts Down Scenic Railroad’s Tree-Cutting Operation

An attempt by the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad to remove trees considered to be a wildfire risk along a stretch of track was halted by a cease-and-desist order from the United States Forest Service. This after the Forest Service filed a $25 million lawsuit last year against the railroad for allegedly causing one of the largest wildfires in the state’s history. The federal government claims a cinder from one of the railroad’s coal-fired steam locomotives ignited the 416 Fire in June 2018. That blaze burned more than 54,000 acres. The railroad faces other lawsuits seeking liability for the fire, including one from the insurance company of a nearby ski resort that was forced to close during the fire. The railroad denies its locomotive caused the fire, but months later committed to converting at least one locomotive to diesel fuel from coal. By the time the Forest Service cease-and-desist order was issued in late May, eight miles of the tree-cutting project had already been completed. Now, however, tree-cutting is at a standstill as the historic locomotives run on a limited schedule and USFS personnel review what has been downed and cleared thus far. “One of the chief complaints we hear is about fire mitigation,” said John Harper, general manager of American Heritage Railways, which owns DSNGRR. “And now we’re actively mitigating and people are concerned and upset about it…”

Nature, Reply to “Height-related changes in forest composition explain increasing tree mortality with height during an extreme drought” (July 7, 2020)

Recently, we published a study1 tracking tree mortality through an extreme drought for ~1.8 million individual trees over 8 years, revealing a continuous upward trend in mortality risk with respect to tree height. In the accompanying paper, Stephenson and Das dispute our findings, highlighting two scenarios in which broad changes in forest composition control mortality trends. We re-analyze our full tree-level dataset2, controlling for forest type by testing for an increasing height-mortality trend in ten unique topographic positions and ten unique forest types (Fig. 1). In all topographic positions and all forest types covered in the original 40,000-ha study area, we still find a consistent upward trend in mortality rate with increasing tree height. We also find that plot-based sampling schemes may not confidently detect the full height-mortality trend due to undersampling of tall trees in forests. Our remote sensing-based approach helps solve this logistical challenge. With these lines of evidence, alongside our original findings1, we argue in favor of a broad height-mortality trend that is interactive and modulated by species-specific factors. Drought-induced tree mortality is controlled by a complex series of interacting stressors—not by a single binary factor…

Toronto, Ontario, Star, July 6, 2020: Toronto unleashes killer fungus in its last stand against an invasive insect wiping out our ash trees

The city is betting on an experimental program to control emerald ash borers before the destructive bugs kill off what’s left of our ash trees. Before the invasive species of Asian insect started making its way up the Highway 401 corridor from the U.S. about 10 years ago, Toronto was home to an estimated 860,000 ash trees. Since then, the emerald ash borer infestation has killed or resulted in the removal of all but about 10,000 ash trees in the city, with the rest likely headed for the same fate unless a solution is found. The answer — hopefully — is blowing in the wind and dangling from the high branches of ash trees in the Guild Park and Gardens, where the final battle is underway. My regular walking route includes the Guild Park, where signs were recently attached to ash trees asking people not to fool around with ropes that lead to two types of traps suspended far above the ground. Josh McMeekin, a forest health care inspector with urban forestry, said the Guild area is “a unique place, very ash dominant…”

Decatur, Illinois, Herald-Review, July 5, 2020: Code change would regulate what Decatur residents can grow on their property

City officials are seeking to regulate how residents can grow native prairie grasses on their properties, aiming to allow those plantings without bringing unwanted wildlife and other problems into neighborhoods. The Decatur City Council on Monday will consider amending city code to allow for native planting areas, with guidelines and some restrictions. In a memo to the city council, City Manager Scot Wrighton said the goal was to offer an ordinance that “adds value to the urban landscape while still controlling the undesirable elements of uncontrolled prairie grass pastures.” Wrighton said the proposed rules were developed after staff met with an advisory committee that included representatives from several organizations, including the Macon County Conservation District, Richland Community College, U of I Master Gardeners Club of Decatur, Macon County Soil and Water Conservation District, Sustain Our Natural Areas and the Decatur Audubon Society. The council has a history with the issue. Members agreed last year to consider amending city code to allow for native planting areas and approved a temporary moratorium on the enforcement of high-grass nuisance code violations for properties that claimed to have authentic native or prairie grass landscaping…

Los Angeles, California, Times, July 3, 2020: Worries mount in Yucca Valley that Joshua trees will be designated an endangered species

To hear local leaders tell it, the proposed listing of western Joshua trees as an endangered species would be an economic catastrophe for the high desert Town of Yucca Valley. It would place an onerous regulatory burden on property owners, they say, at a time when they are being pinched by declining revenue due to the COVID-19 pandemic and a state mandate to install a $375-million sewer system on parcels where the trees grow, as some residents put it, “like weeds.” But state wildlife authorities have recommended that Joshua trees be considered for listing. The recommendation was based on a review of a petition submitted by the Center for Biological Diversity, which argues that the trees are facing the risk of extinction after years of development, drought and more frequent wildfires due to climate change. And therein lies the pickle for the town of 21,000 residents along California 62 about 25 miles north of Palm Springs. On Monday, Assemblyman Chad Mayes (I-Yucca Valley) added a new wrinkle to the controversy on behalf of his constituents: He introduced a hastily crafted emergency bill that would amend the California Endangered Species Act to make it easier to take a threatened or endangered species found to be causing significant economic hardship or impacting critical infrastructure such as a sewer system. Mayes is especially interested in changing regulations that grant temporary protection to Joshua trees or any other species in the process of being considered for listing. “If the tree is just a candidate for listing,” Mayes said in an interview, “it doesn’t seem fair to make our struggling desert communities pay a heavy price for the international problem of climate change…

Urbana, Illinois, University of Illinois Extension Service, July 5, 2020: Illinois’ big trees are on the map

From the depths of the Shawnee National Forest to backyards in the suburbs of Chicago, Illinois’ biggest trees are branching out. For the first time, the state’s champion trees are now available as an interactive digital map. “For more than 58 years, the Illinois Big Tree Register has inspired generations of big tree hunters who relish the opportunity to find and nominate the next champion tree,” says Jay Hayek, a University of Illinois Extensionforestry specialist in the department of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences (NRES). “The map is an exciting new way for us to continue to discover and recognize the value of our largest native tree species.” NRES graduate and forestry technician Julia Allison developed the map, available at, to give big tree hunters access to detailed information about each of the 88 champion trees listed on the Illinois Big Tree Register. The map includes tree species details, GPS coordinates, measurements, and their resulting scores, as well as a list of the 10 largest trees on record to date. Big tree enthusiasts can use the map to track down Illinois’ top-ranked tree, a 122-foot tall Eastern Cottonwood in Ogle County, and the county with the most champion trees, Union County in Southern Illinois. The register began in 1962 as a citizen-science outreach project to recognize the Prairie State’s largest native trees, and anyone with a tape measure can nominate a tree…

Ellsworth, Maine, American, July 1, 2020: Hungry, itch-inducing caterpillars take toll on humans, trees

If there is one good thing to say about browntail caterpillar season, it’s that it is wrapping up. As far as enemies go, this foe is unassuming. But don’t be fooled by its small, fluffy appearance. The caterpillar’s hairs can cause a fierce itch when they land on skin. “It’s awful — the itch is worse than chicken pox,” says Valerie Folckemer, who encountered the insects at her house on Newbury Neck in Surry. The caterpillars are brown and can be identified by the two white stripes that run along their backs and by two distinctive orange dots. Their tiny hairs are barbed and toxic. “I am covered in a severe rash from this stupid caterpillar and have been for an entire week now; it just seems to be getting worse, not better,” said Jill Rothrock of Hancock. The itching started June 17 when she was running errands in Ellsworth. Her daughter spotted a caterpillar on her shirt. “I didn’t even look, I just screamed and tried to shake it off my shirt. My daughter screamed and ran away,” Rothrock recalled. A friend plucked the insect off her shirt with a paper towel. “Then the rash started getting worse. By the time I went to bed, I had what looked like hives on my chest, shoulder and neck.” The following Monday she went to the doctor, who prescribed a compound for the rash. It didn’t help much. “My doctor and his nurse said they are getting so many calls about this caterpillar and rashes that it is causing people,” she said. There is little good to say about browntail caterpillars, according to Tom Schmeelk, a forest entomologist with the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry…

Rosenberg, Texas, Fort Bend Herald, July 1, 2020: Cost of free oak trees could cost city $344,000 in maintenance annually, report says

In February, Fort Bend County Road and Bridge granted the city of Rosenberg 280 free oak trees. But nothing is really free. At the most recent Rosenberg City Council workshop meeting, council members discussed the cost of landscape irrigation for the live oak trees donated by Fort Bend County. City staff revealed that irrigation and installation for the trees could cost anywhere between $240,000 and $344,000. This project would be scheduled in three phases to allow the county’s contractor time to prepare the trees. Council agreed in February that the trees would be planted at center medians along major thoroughfares along Bryan Road, Spacek Road and possibly Town Center Boulevard. City staff explained that while the trees would be free, the city would have to pay for irrigation and other upkeep. “When we first discussed this, I had a feeling this was going to cost hundreds of thousands of dollars,” council member Isaac Davila said. “We have more important things to spend money on. That’s a wish list. If we had a lot of extra money then maybe. But we don’t. I’m against it.” Mayor Bill Benton said nice towns have a lot of things like sidewalks and trees. “I think we are out of touch with our constituents, especially the poorer ones,” Davila responded…

Southern Living, July 1, 2020: The Manchineel Is a Scary Tropical Tree That Can Kill You

There’s a toxic coastal plant you need to know about, and it’s called the manchineel tree. You may have seen one during your travels—it’s often accompanied by cautionary signs and a bright red band painted around its trunk as a warning to all who pass by. While not all manchineel trees are so painted, they require a fervent advisory, because they are one of the most dangerous plant species around. The manchineel (aka Hippomane mancinella, aka the Tree of Death) is native to coastal areas in southern North America, such as South Florida, as well as the northern reaches of Central and South America and the Caribbean. The plant gets its name from the Spanish word manzanilla, which means “little apple.” It is so named because the fruit and foliage of the plant resemble those of apple trees. It’s also been called manzanilla de la muerte, or “little apple of death,” a foreboding moniker if ever we’ve heard one. As it happens, all of the fearsome names are warranted. The manchineel has bright green leaves and round, yellowish-green fruits, making it a rather ordinary looking tropical plant. Don’t let it fool you, though: Every part of the manchineel is poisonous. The fruit is toxic, and the sap from the leaves and stems is too. If touched, the irritants found in manchineel sap can produce inflammation and painful blisters on the skin. Passersby are warned not to stand underneath the tree when it’s raining, as dripping water can transfer toxins from the tree to anyone nearby. And finally, burning manchineel bark has been known to cause irritation, even blindness, due to airborne poison ash…

Arkansas City, Kansas, Cowley Courier Traveler, July 1, 2020: Tree removal digs up complaint

Some of the trees planted as part of a 2006 Summit Street beautification project are being cut down and removed in response to complaints from businesses. But removing the trees has also led to complaints from residents who like them. Public Services Supervisor Tony Tapia said several business owners in the 100 block of South Summit Street want the trees removed because they hide their signs and make their location less visible. “Like TCK investments,” he said. “They’ve got a new sign and they want the tree removed.” Tapia said that Riggs Tax Service has also complained about his sign being blocked and was also concerned about the tree on the north side of his building. He said the tree was breaking up the sidewalk and filling his bottom stairwell with leaves. “So the only thing I can do is take them out,” Tapia said. In some areas, the trees are causing a lot of damage, Tapia said. Sidewalks in front of Starlyn Venus Insurance at Summit Street and Chestnut Avenue are being badly damaged by tree roots. Another problem area is near the Council on Aging building in the 300 block of South Summit Street. He said Bob Niles complained that the roots were popping up the tile work in the doorway, so that tree was also removed. Tapia said the city is not planning to remove all of the trees, just the ones causing problems and receiving complaints. The only other tree slated for removal at this time is in front of The Grinder Man restaurant…


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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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