And Now The News …

Raleigh, North Carolina, News & Observer, November 29, 2021: Fallen 100,000-pound oak tree crushes man in California home, firefighters say

An enormous oak tree toppled onto an Encino, California, home in the dead of night, crushing a 64-year-old man in a second-story bedroom, firefighters said. Los Angeles Fire Department crews tried to extricate the man from the wreckage, but he was pronounced dead, a news release said. “I’ve never experienced anything like this,” Capt. Cody Weireter told KTLA. “You’re looking at well over 100,000 pounds of a tree falling onto a home in the middle of the night.” Firefighters rescued two women and a dog on the first floor of the 3,200-square-foot home after the tree fell about 11 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 28, the Los Angeles Times reported. None were hurt. There were no high winds or gusts, but neighbor Tony Montero told KTLA that he’d expressed concern about the tree to his wife. “It was leaning directly over the house … it was probably 30 degrees,” Montero told the station. Another neighbor, Mark Ruszecki, told the Los Angeles Times that he initially thought the noise of the tree falling was an earthquake. He estimated it was 700 years old…

Missoula, Montana, Missoulian, November 28, 2021: Tough time for trees: Old logging lands need lots of work

Trees talk in rings and needles, and the trees along Gold Creek are cranky. The life story of a 35-year-old Douglas fir appears in a core of wood the size of a long kitchen match. The growth rings near its bole, or center, expand a quarter-inch a year during its youth. The outer rings, chronicling the past decade, squish together in sixteenths of an inch or less. “It was growing really well and then it just closed in,” Bureau of Land Management forester Kyle Johnson said, examining the core he’d just drilled out of the trunk. Grabbing a branch, Johnson displayed the frazzled, needleless tips. In addition to fighting for water with five other trees inside a hula hoop’s circle of space, the fir was having its photosynthesis capacity nibbled away by tussock moth caterpillars. The rolling hillsides flanking Gold and Belmont creeks once rumbled with industrial logging that supplied the mills southwest in Bonner, Missoula and Frenchtown. Today, most of that 117,000-acre basin belongs to the U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation or The Nature Conservancy (which plans to transfer its holdings there to public ownership). What those hillsides should look like has brought a crowd of stakeholders to the table for an exercise in restoration forestry. The tussock moths and other destructive insects thrive in overstocked, single-age tree stands. Those stands are so homogeneous and crowded because they’ve all grown back at once since the hillside was clear-cut in the 1980s…

CBS News, November 28, 2021: The oldest trees on Earth

High atop the remote, rocky slopes of California’s White Mountains, the harsh conditions make it difficult for life to take root. But for a certain type of tree – and for those who have traveled here to study it – this place is paradise. These gnarled bristlecone pines are the oldest individual trees in the world. Researchers like Andy Bunn have come to learn from the ancients. Correspondent Conor Knighton asked Bunn, “Looking at this tree, would you have any idea how old this is?” “I’ve been doing this long enough to not try and play the guessing game too much,” he replied. “It’d be easy for this tree to be a thousand years old; it would be easier for it to be two thousand years old. Older than that would be unusual, but not impossible.” There are bristlecones in this grove that are more than twice as old. “It’s remarkable to sit there and have your hand on one of those trees and know that it was growing when the Pyramids were built,” said Bunn…

Tallahassee, Florida, Democrat, November 26, 2021: Top native trees to plant to add brilliant fall color, breakfast for songbirds

As daytime temperatures cool and open windows at night let in refreshing breezes, you may need a light blanket on the bed. Day lengths are getting shorter as the planet travels around the sun at 67,000 miles per hour toward the winter solstice. Trees begin preparing for winter by transferring chlorophyll from leaves into stems, showing us other colors present in the leaves. We enjoy this time of year with comfortable temperatures and the colorful change of seasons. Compared to New England, North Florida fall color is more variable from year to year, but we do have several trees with dependable fall color. The trees mentioned here are all American natives which, in addition to great fall color, have value to wildlife throughout the year. Take oaks as an example. White oak and swamp chestnut oak leaves typically turn a pleasant shade of red. In spring and summer, caterpillars dine on their new succulent leaves. In the United States, 90 species of oaks are food for 534 species of caterpillars! Most of these caterpillars become high quality protein for baby birds and their parents. In autumn, acorns are food for insects, birds, and mammals…

Houston, Texas, Chronicle, November 28, 2021: Michael Potter: Tips for picking and caring for a real
Christmas tree

Christmas just isn’t Christmas without a real Christmas tree! Right? For some, that is the only way to do Christmas. So, I was doing a little thinking over Thanksgiving and decided to shed some light on a few tips to help you select the right tree for your family or situation. Of course, I know there are a lot of early-birds that have already purchased their trees. Hopefully some of this information will be valuable either now or in the future. Whether you purchase your tree from a neighborhood lot, a Christmas tree farm or any other establishment; here are a few things to consider. Choose a spot where the tree will be placed. Will it be seen from all sides or will some of it be up against a wall? Choose a spot away from heat sources, such as TVs, fireplaces and air ducts. Place the tree clear of doors. For most of us married guys, placement is where the wife tells us. Measure the height and width of the location in the room where the tree will be placed. Also make a quick measurement of the maximum size that the tree stand can handle. If the tree you buy is too big, you may have to buy a larger tree stand. There is nothing worse than buying a tree only to find that it’s too tall or too wide for the area or too big for the tree stand. Take a tape measure with you to measure the tree you select and bring rope or tie-down straps to secure the tree. Remember, most trees come from out of state and may have been experienced dry conditions during transit. You can ask the retailer when they receive shipments or when the next batch will come in. The fresher the tree, the longer it will last…

Orlando, Florida, Sentinel, November 24, 2021: ‘Their goal is to bleed owners dry’

When Martin Kessler moved to the Solivita development in Poinciana, Florida in 2008, he says he quickly realized it was a big mistake. This was the first place the 97-year-old had ever lived with a homeowners association. “Living in an HOA is not really a pleasant thing for a resident,” Kessler said. A retired economist, he said the fee he was required to pay was “a capitalist’s perfect dream of a business. People must join whether they like it or not, and they pay all the expenses of the business.” Kessler is among more than 5,000 members of the 55-plus community locked in a class action lawsuit since 2017 against Solivita developer Avatar Properties, which they allege improperly collected HOA fees. On Nov. 2, Polk County, Florida, Circuit Judge Wayne Durden awarded the residents $34.8 million. “That’s the biggest award I’ve ever heard of,” said Harvella Jones, president of the National Homeowners Advocate Group. Based in Texas, Jones’ organization specializes in helping people fight HOAs and lobbies for homeowner protections. “We get calls from all over the country, but no one has ever reported to us a win as large as (Solivita).” Experts agree that fighting HOAs is hard for residents and big wins are even rarer. In Florida, HOAs govern more than 44% of the population, according to research by analysts at iProperty Management. With fees that can reach into the thousands of dollars from an estimated 3.5 million homes in the state, HOAs can make lawsuits long and costly for residents. “Their goal is to bleed owners dry,” said Jan Bergemann, president of Cyber Citizens for Justice, a homeowner’s advocacy group based in DeLand. “They will hit you with motion after motion, tie it up for years…”

Ventura, California, Ventura County Star, November 28, 2021: ‘A funeral for their demise’: Ventura tree removals lead to outrage

Decades-old pine trees cut down to stumps earlier this month along the perimeter of the Imperial Ventura Mobile Home Estates raised alarms among mobile home residents and neighbors. But the fate of the remaining dozen or so trees along Thille Street in East Ventura is unclear. Mobile park resident Nancy Culton, 74, said the trees had been around for more than 30 years but had not been cared for. “Nobody told us they were going to cut these trees down. They just showed up and started cutting,” she said. Phone messages left for the property management company of the mobile home park on Wednesday and Friday were not returned before deadline. Neighbor Paul Cordeiro said he discovered on Nov. 12 that about 10 of the evergreens were removed between the wall of the property and sidewalk. “I was horrified to see what was going on,” he said. He said crews were cutting down pine trees outside the motor home park property, leaving them denuded…

Tweaktown, November 29, 2021:Trees are greening sooner than they should be, and new data show why

Lin Meng won the grand prize for 2021’s Science & SciLifeLab Prize for Young Scientists for her research into how city environments impact tree phenology. “Phenology is the study of periodic events in biological life cycles and how these are influenced by seasonal and interannual variations in climate, as well as habitat factor,” according to Wikipedia. Meng set out to determine how global warming and bright artificial lighting conditions in cities changed when trees started growing leaves in spring. Previous research has shown that higher temperatures impact vegetation growth in cities, so the following question is how global warming affects that. Meng analyzed satellite data spanning 2001 to 2014 and 85 cities in the United States to find when trees began growing leaves. Trees “greened up” an average of six days earlier and were responding more rapidly to climate change in urban areas than in rural areas. Using data from NASA’s Black Marble satellite, which measures artificial light in cities, along with phenology data from the USA National Phenology Network, Ming could also determine how lighting conditions were impacting green-up times for trees in American cities. In the most extreme cases, green-up occurred nine days sooner than expected. Ming suggests artificially extended day length due to urban lights leads to earlier spring greening of vegetation in cities, exacerbating the already early greening due to warming cities…

Washington, D.C., Post, November 26, 2021: Oh Christmas tree, not you, too: Supply-chain problems come to the fir trade

Not even Christmas trees could escape the economic pandemonium of 2021. Rerouted Fraser firs, fried Oregon pines, artificial trees caught in broken supply chains, and sky-high transportation costs have contorted the seasonal arbor trade like an oversized tree scrunched under a low ceiling. The situation has importers, growers, sellers and — now, finally — buyers even more frazzled heading into Black Friday, when Christmas tree shopping begins in earnest. Now many families are unsure whether they will spend the holiday gathered around a majestic tower of greenery — or something more reminiscent of Charlie Brown’s sad spectacle. “Christmas is not canceled, everyone will be able to find a Christmas tree,” said Jami Warner, executive director of the American Christmas Tree Association, a trade group representing the artificial tree industry. Exactly what kind of tree will await people, though, is less clear. The supply chain Grinch may still gum up the works. A plywood sign at Hayfield Secondary School in Alexandria, Va., reads, “Due to a shortage of good Fraser fir trees, the boosters will not be having the annual tree sale this year.” And for National Tree Co., a leading importer of artificial trees, manufacturing time has roughly doubled since before the pandemic, and delivery from Southern China through the Panama Canal and to New York has increased from three weeks to eight…

Medford, Oregon, Mail Tribune, November 25, 2021: Drought-stressed Oregon trees scorched in heat wave

This summer’s heat scorched Oregon trees — maybe worse than ever before — and scientists are beginning to piece together what that means for the trees’ long-term health. Reports of fading foliage and crispy conifers started coming within days of a June heat wave, during which many parts of the state endured consecutive days with temperatures higher than 110 degrees Fahrenheit. Aerial surveys from the U.S. Forest Service, Oregon Department of Forestry and Washington Department of Natural Resources documented tree scorching on about 229,000 acres in Oregon, Oregon Public Broadcasting reported. That’s likely an undercount, given the method’s limitations. “By some estimates, it’s probably the largest scorch event in history,” Oregon State University researcher Christopher Still told OPB’s “Think Out Loud” this week. “I mean this is a new thing for us to be seeing on Earth, so it’s sort of a dubious milestone.” Researchers like Still, with help from citizen scientists, have spent months documenting the heat wave’s effects on Oregon’s trees…

New York City, The New York Times, November 26, 2021: A Tree That Was Once the Suburban Ideal Has Morphed Into an Unstoppable Villain

In the distance, beside a brick house in a tidy subdivision, the trees rose above a wooden fence, showing off all that had made the Bradford pear so alluring: They were towering and robust and, in the early spring, had white flowers that turned their limbs into perfect clouds of cotton. But when David Coyle, a professor of forest health at Clemson University, pulled over in his pickup, he could see the monster those trees had spawned: a forbidding jungle that had consumed an open lot nearby, where the same white flowers were blooming uncontrollably in a thicket of tangled branches studded with thorns. “When this tree gets growing somewhere, it does not take long to take over the whole thing,” Professor Coyle, an invasive species expert, said. “It just wipes everything out underneath it.” Beginning in the 1960s, as suburbs sprouted across the South, clearing land for labyrinths of cul-de-sacs and two-car garages, Bradford pears were the trees of choice. They were easily available, could thrive in almost any soil and had an appealing shape with mahogany-red leaves that lingered deep into the fall and flowers that appeared early in the spring…

Chicago, Illinois, WBBM-TV, November 26, 2021: West Lakeview Neighbors Want Every Option Explored To Keep Trees From Being Cut Down For City Water Pipe Replacement

Dozens of trees are potentially slated to get the axe in West Lakeview, and residents have been mobilizing to stop it. As CBS 2 Political Investigator Dana Kozlov reported Wednesday evening, these residents do not want a repeat of the virtual clearcutting seen in other neighborhoods. They want every preservation option explored. The trees are decades old and towering – one of them is about 10 times taller than Kozlov herself, who is a little over 5 feet. They may all be cut down by the city in the next couple of months for water pipe replacement. So some who live in the area are being proactive – taking action and demanding the city be more transparent about its plans. The trees mean a lot to many living on a two-block stretch of Paulina Street in West Lakeview – from Belmont Avenue to the six-way intersection with Lincoln Avenue and Roscoe Street. “People in the neighborhood really care about the trees,” said Caroline Teichner…

Raleigh, North Carolina, News & Observer, November 23, 2021: This invasive pest could travel to NC on Christmas trees. What to do if you see one

If you’re getting ready to start your Christmas decorating with a live tree, beware the spotted lanternfly. The invasive pest is encroaching on North Carolina, and while the insects are “indiscriminate egg layers” with a wide variety of host vegetation, experts say they could travel to the state on Christmas trees from nearby Virginia, where a small infestation was recently detected. The spotted lanternfly generally doesn’t kill the trees they prey on, but they can cause significant damage to agricultural crops and reduce yields.  The News & Observer talked with Larry Long, forest health monitoring coordinator with the N.C. Forest Service, and with Kelly Oten, an assistant professor and forest health specialist at N.C. State University, to learn more about the spotted lanternfly, the risks they pose and the proper steps you should take if you see the pest this holiday season. Here’s what we learned.  The spotted lanternfly is an invasive pest that is… native to China, India and Vietnam, and was introduced to Korea in 2004. It was first found in the U.S. in eastern Pennsylvania in 2014 and has since been spotted in New Jersey, Virginia, Delaware, West Virginia, Maryland, Connecticut, New York, Ohio, Indiana and Massachusetts

Phys.org, November 23, 2021: Urban trees are a singular weapon in stormwater management

It’s hard to overstate the environmental importance of trees, which among other functions pull climate change-inducing carbon from the atmosphere, clean the air of toxins and help control runoff. While it can likewise be hard to quantify some of these effects, a new study by University of Maryland researchers helps clarify the role of urban trees in mitigating stormwater flows, and finds that even isolated trees lining a street or planted in a park may have a significant effect. A study published yesterday in the journal Scientific Reports by Assistant Professor Mitch Pavao-Zuckerman and doctoral candidate Sara Ponte, both of the Department of Environmental Science and Technology, found that individually planted trees capture, store and release stormwater back into the atmosphere—a process called “transpiration”—at a rate three times that of trees in a forest. The study was conducted in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service and the nonprofit Center for Watershed Protection, with funding from the Chesapeake Bay Trust…

Tulsa, Oklahoma, KOKI-TV, November 23, 2021: Turkey Mountain officials ask public not to steal trees, other plants from the park

Tuesday afternoon, Turkey Mountain Urban Wilderness Area published a message to visitors on their Facebook page: Don’t steal. “We’re a little sad that we have to say this, but don’t take plants and trees from the park,” the post warned. Officials explained that they came across a couple in the park that were digging up seedlings, removing bushes and cutting branches at Turkey Mountain. The couple was doing this in order to move the plants to their own yard, according to the post…

Minneapolis, Minnesota, KARE-TV, November 23, 2021: ‘Assisted migration’ helps trees move so forests survive climate change

Red oak trees are not particularly common in northeastern Minnesota. But on the University of Minnesota Duluth’s research plot, 850 1-year-old trees have taken root. “They’re really small,” said Dr. Julie Etterson, a professor in the department of biology at UMD, while pointing to what looked like a stick in the ground. Etterson and other researchers, at UMD and several other groups will be studying those “sticks” in the years to come, watching them grow to see how they do in northeastern Minnesota’s climate. Given how much that climate has changed in recent history, it might not be too hard a task. “The idea is that the climate has shifted further north and so maybe the plants are mismatched with the climate they are adapted to,” Etterson said. “Some species are unaffected, some species are benefitting…and some species are really suffering, like paper birch…what’s happening is we’re ending up with areas, patches of empty habitat…”

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