And Now The News …

Oakland, California, East Bay Times, August 3, 2022: Yosemite’s Mariposa Grove reopens as Washburn Fire winds down

The Mariposa Grove of giant sequoia trees, one of the most popular and breathtaking landmarks in Yosemite National Park, reopened to the public Wednesday morning, nearly four weeks after a major wildfire broke out nearby. The Washburn Fire was 97% contained, fire officials reported Wednesday, having burned 4,886 acres. The blaze, which began July 7, had more than 1,600 firefighters at its peak. But Wednesday, only 65 remained to mop up. “It looks great. We are super-excited. At the shuttle bus stop there were probably 200 people waiting to get in this morning,” said Yosemite spokesman Scott Gediman. “The fire came very close, but the sequoias look great. We’re so thankful.” When the Washburn Fire was first discovered, it sparked fears of an environmental catastrophe. Massive lightning-sparked fires over the past two years farther south in Sequoia National Park and Sequoia National Forest killed between 10,000 and 14,000 giant sequoias — nearly 20% of all that remain on Earth. But the news from the Washburn Fire has been nearly all good: After a major attack from firefighters early in the blaze, not one of the roughly 500 giant sequoias at the Mariposa Grove, some of which tower more than 200 feet tall and are more than 2,000 years old, died in the fire. No homes in the nearby Wawona community burned. There were no injuries or deaths…

Charleston, South Carolina, WCSC-TV, August 3, 2022: Dominion Energy set to cut state tree identified as hazardous

One Hanahan resident is doing all he can to save his Palmetto tree after receiving a notice from Dominion Energy that it’s been scheduled to be cut down. Jay Mullis says after returning home recently he found his tree marked with an “X” and a note in his driveway from Dominion stating the condition of his tree warrants action by the company. The Mullis family has lived in this home since December of 2019, and they say the palmetto is the most important piece of their front lawn. Mullis contacted a Dominion representative and shared his concern about the sudden notice that the tree was a threat and was looking to find a mutually beneficial compromise. According to Dominion, the tree has made contact with their energized distribution conductors and has been identified as hazardous. After being told there wasn’t anything the company could do to save the tree, Mullis took it into his own hands. He has since trimmed it in hopes that it will no longer pose a threat momentarily and can give him time to move the tree on his own dime. “I think it’s important that we start working together on these issues, it’s a piece of me that we cut and the tree I think will be fine and hope that they just let me move it back 10 feet,” Mullis says…

Popular Science, August 3, 2022: The curious case of an endangered wildcat and a disappearing fruit tree

To anyone with an interest in the fate of the world’s wildlife, it’s a familiar story: Bringing back predators like wolves and wildcats is crucial to re-wilding ecosystems. The most famous example might be the return of gray wolves to Yellowstone National Park in 1995, and its ripple effect on other species, including plants. The wolves’ presence after 70 years forced elk herds in certain areas to start moving again, which then gave the willow and aspen they had over-browsed a chance to regrow. That, in turn, provided beavers with enough sticks and logs to make a comeback of their own—from eight colonies in 1953 to 100 colonies today. It’s a tidy story of nature’s resilience. But as biologists are now learning, reintroducing top predators to ecosystems where they’ve been absent for generations can affect other species in unexpected, and perhaps unwelcome ways. Take the Iberian pear, a small, heat- and cold-resistant tree found only in Spain, Portugal, and Morocco—a hotspot of plant biodiversity. The species grows up to 32 feet high and sports round, marble-sized fruit that are so hard when unripe, shepherds used them as slingshot projectiles. The tree is considered stable but in decline with a “severely fragmented” population due to agricultural development, according to the IUCN’s Red List of Threatened and Endangered Species…

Bergen, New Jersey, Record, August 4, 2022: Summer of the spotted lanternfly in NJ: How much damage has been done?

On the beaches of Mantoloking, they’ve been found scurrying in clumps of 50 near the surf. Seventy miles north in suburban Clifton, they’ve inundated a few blocks that have plants they love to feast upon. And in densely packed towns along the Hudson River, they’ve spawned on trees nestled on the Palisades cliffs and are now climbing to the very top of high-rises perched over the waterway. If it seems that the spotted lanternfly is everywhere in New Jersey this summer, that’s because it is. What started with residents reporting sightings here and there in early June has turned into weeks upon weeks of infestation. The bug, an invasive species from China, has so far been more of a nuisance than a menace in New Jersey. The state Department of Agriculture has not received any reports of significant damage to New Jersey’s $1 billion agriculture industry, Jeff Wolfe, an agency spokesman, said Wednesday…

York, Pennsylvania, WGAL-TV, August 1, 2022: Removal of huge tree begins in Harrisburg

The removal of an 80-year-old elm tree in Harrisburg got underway Monday. City leaders said the tree is dangerous. The roots and branches are covering multiple buildings around Clinton, Green, Penn and Harris streets. Some branches fell during a storm about a month ago. The tree has also started to impact power lines, and officials are concerned that it could lead to an electrical fire. A tree removal truck is in place along Green Street between Harris and Clinton streets. The block will be closed to all parking and through traffic until the close of business on Friday, Aug. 5…

Washington, DC, Post, August 2, 2022: 5 ways to spot sick and dangerous trees before they damage your home

Trees give much-needed shade during the summer, which is particularly welcome in times of record-high heat. But mature trees also can harbor dead branches, faulty roots and rotting bark, creating a perfect recipe for dangerous and costly property damage, especially during stormy weather. Trees that have been upended, whether because of severe weather or disease, have crushed homes and caused injuries or even death. But living trees are an important part of the communities that surround them. Researchers have found that trees bring various benefits: In addition to providing shade, they also shelter wildlife and help combat climate change by expelling oxygen and taking in carbon dioxide. “The best time to plant a tree is 50 years ago, and the next best time is last week,” said Cindy Musick, a certified arborist in Northern Virginia who owns the arboriculture and forestry consulting business EcoAcumen…

Australian Broadcasting Corporation, August 3, 2022: Trees and fungi are the ultimate friends with benefits

Take a walk in the bush, and you’ll find yourself immersed in a soundscape of chatter. You might hear birds bantering to one another as they forage for food, or swarms of insects serenading potential partners. But the quietest life forms are having some of the liveliest conversations. Trees might seem like the type who prefer to keep to themselves, but beneath your feet they are busy forming secret relationships with vast networks of underground fungi. Big, old trees rely on this “wood-wide web” to shuttle nutrients to their younger neighbours, while others use it to send chemical signals that warn nearby trees of looming threats, such as diseases and pests. “The symbiosis is important for all aspects of plant growth, but also the diversity we see in our landscape,” says Ian Anderson, a fungal ecologist at Western Sydney University. It’s a friends-with-benefits arrangement that’s been around for millions of years, but researchers are only just beginning to unravel the secrets of how trees and fungi interact, particularly in Australian ecosystems, says Tom May, a mycologist at the Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria…

Boston, Massachusetts, Globe, August 2, 2022: Cambridge asks residents to help water city’s trees during drought

Every part of Massachusetts is experiencing a drought, and the bone-dry conditions in Cambridge have officials asking residents to pitch-in to help maintain the city’s urban forest. The city said the recent July heat wave and ongoing drought conditions have “significantly stressed” both new and older trees there. Andrew Putnam, Cambridge’s public works superintendent of urban forestry, said in a statement that the most important thing people can do is help water the trees near their home. “This is the most sustainable way to water, and we’re asking any residents and businesses who are able to please do their part by filling a Gator Bag on a tree or drenching the soil in a nearby tree well,” Putnam said. The month of July was one of the Boston area’s hottest and driest ever. According to the National Weather Service, only .62 inches of rain were recorded in the area in July 2022. Staff from Cambridge’s urban forestry department are operating three water trucks to water street trees across the city throughout the day. The city’s water department and “water-by-bike” staff are also assisting with watering trees each day. Street trees generally need about 20 gallons of water each week from May to October, but during heat and drought conditions, the trees should be watered at least two or three times a week, according to the city. If there is compacted soil around the tree, city officials recommend residents loosen the dirt with a trowel to allow the water to penetrate and prevent runoff…

International Business Times, August 1, 2022: ‘One In A Million’: Researchers Rediscover Tree Lost For 97 Years

Researchers have rediscovered a lovely magnolia tree that has been lost to science for 97 long years. The chances of finding it were said to be “one in a million.” The northern Haiti magnolia (Magnolia emarginata) was discovered in 1925 but has been lost to science since, Re:wild noted in a news release. Morne Colombo, the forest where it was originally discovered, has been destroyed. Under the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species, northern Haiti Magnolia is considered to be “critically endangered.” In fact, the IUCN wrote in the listing that it is “possibly extinct.” The five-person team searched for the tree in mid-June so that the flowers would be in bloom and it would be easier to identify, Re:wild said. Despite postponements due to travel restrictions and social unrest, as well as a downpour that disrupted their trek, the team eventually spotted the tree’s distinct flowers and leaves. They found the tree in different stages of life, from juvenile to adult, and were able to take the “first-ever” photos of it. Some of the pictures, including those of the trees’ beautiful flowers, can be seen here. The researchers were also able to collect DNA samples for analysis…

Rochester, New York, Democrat & Chronicle, August 1, 2022: Read about Rochester’s most beloved trees and share your own story

When people talk about their favorite trees, they’re usually talking about rootedness. That is, belonging somewhere. Being home in the place where you and your people feel at best. Having a way marker or a commemoration. For one woman, those cherished roots belong to a fir tree on Mount Vernon Street, on the northern boundary of Highland Park. Her three boys knew it as “the climbing tree” when they were young, then as a popular stop on family Christmas-time scavenger hunts when they got a little older. “When my mother died, friends gathered a donation for Highland Conservatory to dedicate (it in) her name,” the woman wrote to me. “The plaque has long since disappeared but the tree remains.” More than 100 people responded to my call a few months ago for their favorite tree in Rochester, a project I’m calling Tree Stories. Those responses are presented below, organized by city quadrant with Highland Park in its own category. It’s not too late to add your favorite tree, by the way. Fill out the form here…

Terre Haute, Indiana, Tribune-Star, August 1, 2022: Suspicious fire damages Greencastle Road tree

The resilience of a century-plus-old oak tree has been severely tested this summer. The historic tree in the middle of Greencastle Road in northeastern Vigo County caught fire Saturday night. County officials also suspect the fire was purposely set. Nonetheless, the bur oak may survive the damage. Vigo County Commissioner Brendan Kearns said county highway superintendent Bob James inspected the tree Monday. “In his opinion, we’re looking pretty good,” Kearns said of the tree’s potential to survive the fire. Two units from the Nevins Township Volunteer Fire Department responded to a 6:17 p.m. call Saturday and found the tree ablaze. “It was on fire. There were flames going up that whole side,” Nevins VFD Chief Cory Roberts said Monday morning. The crews also saw dark, scorched areas on the tree…

Interesting Engineering, August 1, 2022: A breakthrough technology shoots laser beams at trees from ISS

The Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) of the United Nations is building new digital tools to help fight deforestation and climate change. One of these is the FAO’s Framework for Ecosystem Monitoring (FERM) website, which uses satellite images to highlight the negative impact on forests worldwide. Launched last year, the website’s maps and data are accessible to the public. One of the primary sources for the Ferm website is NASA’s Global Ecosystem Dynamics Investigation (GEDI) system. NASA’s GEDI is pronounced like the word Jedi from Star Wars, and its tagline is “may the forest be with you”. The technology certainly lives up to its sci-fi namesake. The GEDI system is perched aboard the International Space Station (ISS), and it shoots laser beams at trees from the orbital laboratory. In an interview with the BBC, Laura Duncanson, one of the leaders of the Gedi project from the University of Maryland’s Department of Geographical Sciences, said, “we use the reflected energy to map forests in 3D, including their height, canopy density, and carbon content. This is an exciting new technology because for decades we have been able to observe deforestation from space, but now with GEDI, we can assign the carbon emissions associated with forest loss [for greater accuracy]…”

San Francisco, California, SFGate.com, July 30, 2022: Redwood National and State Parks will no longer let you hike to Hyperion, the world’s tallest tree

The area around Hyperion, a massive coast redwood known for being the tallest tree in the world, has been closed indefinitely due to damage to the forest caused by trampling visitors. The 380-foot tree is located deep within Redwood National Park and, despite not being accessible by any trail, has attracted scores of visitors since its height was “discovered” in 2006. According to the National Park Service, tree enthusiasts who have bushwhacked off-trail into dense vegetation to reach Hyperion’s base have caused enough habitat destruction to warrant the closure of the entire area, plus a $5,000 fine and potential jail time for those who decide to make the trip anyway. “The usage was having an impact on the vegetation and potentially the root system of the very tree that people are going there to visit,” said Leonel Arguello, the park’s Chief of Natural Resources. “There was trash, and people were creating even more side trails to use the bathroom. They leave used toilet paper and human waste – it’s not a good thing, not a good scene.” According to the park service’s website, visitors have caused some degradation to Hyperion’s base, and ferns no longer grow around the tree due to stepping and trampling. The hike to the tree is also particularly hazardous, since it is completely off-trail and located in an area without any cell phone reception and barely any GPS coverage…

Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Advocate, August 1, 2022: The most common tree in East Baton Rouge? One type stands out among 63,000 counted so far

For most of the past decade, crews from Baton Rouge Green have canvassed city streets and parish roads and, one-by-one, counted trees. It turns out the common crape myrtle is pretty common after all. While the nonprofit group was formed 35 years ago to be a steward of the city-parish’s trees, it was just eight years ago that it started an inventory program to simply count and identify trees in public spaces. As of last week, they had counted 63,000, and fully a third of them are listed in an online database as “common crapemyrtle” — 2,543 large, 2,873 small and 17,028 medium. “By the end of the year, over 70,000 trees will have been inventoried a single time,” said Christopher Cooper, program manager with Baton Rouge Green. “We inventory 10,000 additional trees every year…”

CBS News, July 27, 2022: Man tied to tree by locals to hold for police after allegedly setting brushfires

A man who reportedly ignited wildfires in a remote, forested corner of Oregon was apprehended by three local residents and tied to a tree until police arrived, a sheriff said Tuesday. Federal, state and county authorities responded to a radio call Monday from a U.S. Bureau of Land Management employee who reported a man was walking along a gravel road and setting fires, in the forest some 25 miles northwest of Grants Pass. Ground crews, assisted by local residents, and three helicopters quickly got the two fires under control, Curry County Sheriff John Ward said. Meanwhile, three local residents located the suspect walking on the road near the fires and detained him. “It was reported that the suspect became very combative with the three residents and had to be tied to a tree to subdue him.,” Ward said in a statement. “An ambulance crew was asked to respond due to some injuries that the suspect apparently received from falling down. After being treated at a hospital for his injuries, Trennon Smith, 30, of Veneta, Oregon, was being held on Tuesday in the Curry County jail on charges of arson and reckless burning, Ward said. Court documents did not say if he has an attorney. Bond was set at $100,000…

Little Rock, Arkansas, Democrat Gazette, August 1, 2022: Trees in midst of drought need aid

With Arkansas’ prolonged drought taking a toll on trees across the state, now is the time for homeowners to lend some extra attention to their trees that may be in distress. “People have been calling about their trees losing leaves or starting to get their fall colors way too early, or the bark cracking,” said Krista Quinn, a certified arborist and an agricultural agent with the Cooperative Extension Service’s Faulkner County office, part of the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture. “These are all signs of drought distress,” Quinn said. The prolonged lack of rain and high temperatures across Arkansas has depleted moisture from the soil in many areas. “The two best things we can do to minimize drought damage to trees is to water them and lightly mulch them,” Quinn said. “Watering and mulching trees now may not be enough to get them to produce new leaves or start growing again this season, but it can minimize damage and make them better able to withstand other environmental and pest pressures during the coming year.” Older trees require hundreds of gallons of water over a week, but their root systems can tap into deeper water sources that younger trees cannot access. Younger trees, especially those in harsh urban conditions, need extra care…

New York City, WNBC-TV, July 25, 2022: Biden Admin to Plant More Trees as Climate Change Kills Off Forests

The Biden administration on Monday announced plans to replant trees on millions of acres of burned and dead woodlands as officials struggle to counter the increasing toll on the nation’s forests from wildfires, insects and other manifestations of climate change. Destructive fires in recent years that burned too hot for forests to quickly regrow have far outpaced the government’s capacity to replant trees. That’s created a backlog of 4.1 million acres (1.7 million hectares) in need of replanting, officials said. The U.S. Agriculture Department said it will have to quadruple the number of tree seedlings produced by nurseries to get through the backlog and meet future needs. That comes after Congress last year passed bipartisan legislation directing the Forest Service to plant 1.2 billion trees over the next decade and after President Joe Biden in April ordered the agency to make the nation’s forests more resilient as the globe gets hotter. Much of the administration’s broader agenda to tackle climate change remains stalled amid disagreement in Congress, where Democrats hold a razor-thin majority. That’s left officials to pursue a more piecemeal approach with incremental measures such as Monday’s announcement, while the administration considers whether to declare a climate emergency that could open the door to more aggressive executive branch actions…

Newsweek, July 28, 2022: Young Girl Crushed After Tree Collapses on Tent During Camping Trip

A 7-year-old girl was killed after a tree fell on her family’s tent on Wednesday in Tennessee, according to park officials. The girl was camping with her family at Great Smoky Mountains National Park at the Elkmont Campground when she was crushed by a large red maple tree that was around 2 feet in diameter, the park said in a news release. Park rangers responded to a call about the incident at 12:03 a.m. Wednesday. The Gatlinburg Fire Department and Gatlinburg Police Department were also sent to the scene at Elkmont Campground. The father and two siblings were unharmed, per officials. No details were revealed about what caused the tree to fall…

The Atlantic, July 25, 2022: Trees are Overrated

Once upon a time, not a blade of grass could be found on this planet we call home. There were no verdant meadows, no golden prairies, no sunbaked savannas, and certainly no lawns. Only in the past 80 million years—long after the appearance of mosses, trees, and flowers—did the first shoots of grass emerge. We know this in part because a dinosaur ate some, and its fossilized poop forever memorialized the plant’s arrival. Grass then was still an odd little weed, vying for a spot on the forest floor. It took ages for grasses to grow in numbers that might constitute a grassland. And grasslands only started to occupy serious real estate in the past 10 million years—basically yesterday. They now cover roughly one-third of Earth’s land area. We humans arrived in the midst of grass’s heyday, and it is doubtful we would exist otherwise. Homo sapiens evolved in and around the savannas of Africa, then spread around the world, often following grassy corridors. With the invention of agriculture, many societies fed themselves on domesticated grasses like wheat and corn, and on livestock that turned wild grasses into edible protein. We are, many of us, grass people…

Newport, Rhode Island, Daily News, July 26, 2022: A new disease in Newport is killing beech trees. Here’s what’s being done to combat it.

A new pathogen, discovered in Ohio 10 years ago, has made its arrival in Newport and poses a serious threat to the city’s finest collection of trees, its beloved beeches. According to a press release from the Newport Tree Conservancy, the disease, a microscopic foliar nematode called litylenchus crenatae ssp. mccannii has quickly established itself and is associated with beech leaf disease. BLD was discovered in western Rhode Island in 2020, where it has wreaked havoc on wild American beech trees. From there, it has spread throughout the state, including Newport, where trees in the city’s public parks and private properties are showing infection. The disease can be identified as prominent banding in between the leaf veins. Advanced symptoms show foliage taking on a crinkled leathery texture, shriveling up and appearing deformed. Along with American beech, all European beech varieties are susceptible, with certain cultivars possibly more susceptible, according to the press release…

Salem, Oregon, Statesman Journal, July 19, 2022: Extinction-level threat: Invasive beetle expected to decimate Oregon ash trees

Dominic Maze, a City of Portland biologist, discovered on June 30 that Oregon is facing an impending ecological disaster. Sitting on his truck tailgate and waiting for his kids to finish a day of summer camp at a Forest Grove school, he saw a row of ash trees that all looked to be dying. It was enough to give him a sinking feeling, which a closer look confirmed. “I immediately saw the classic D-shaped exit hole. Then I knew it. I knew it’s got to be emerald ash borer,” Maze said. Emerald ash borer, often abbreviated as EAB, is an invasive beetle that has decimated North American populations of ash trees over the last 20 years. Previously undiscovered in Oregon, Maze’s son that day found the first living specimen. “I said, ‘Can you guys keep an eye out for a shiny, pretty green beetle?’ And right after I said that, my son said, ‘There’s one on my hand,’ which there was and it flew off,” Maze said. “I then could see adult beetle flying around the crowns of these trees and taking off. They’d emerged and they were shooting off into the distance to start looking for new ash.” The doomsday clock is ticking for Oregon’s ash trees. “I truly felt nauseated,” Maze said. “We’re looking at, basically, a functional extinction of Oregon ash on the landscape…”

San Francisco, California, Chronicle, July 16, 2022: California is desperate to stop mega-fires. But controversy rages over tree thinning

Firefighters in Yosemite National Park have been celebrated for preventing this month’s Washburn Fire from destroying the nearly 3,000-year-old giant sequoias at Mariposa Grove. But it wasn’t just hand tools and hose lines that kept the fire at bay. Past forestry projects, which slashed the amount of brush and trees fueling the flames, made the job much easier, park officials say. And yet, the topic of forest management remains a fraught one in California, especially in Yosemite. While practices such as tree thinning and prescribed burning have proved effective at reducing the risk of a catastrophic fire, disagreement remains about when and where the work should be done. Some people even say the effort is often not worthwhile and at times counterproductive. A recent lawsuit from an environmental group in Berkeley shut down fire prevention projects in Yosemite Valley and other parts of the park this summer; the group says forests are being destroyed with little or no safety benefit. “Like wildfires themselves, the debate about treatments is perennial,” said Char Miller, a professor of environmental analysis and history at Pomona College in Southern California who studies fire. “There are all sorts of arguments and concerns, some of which have nothing to do with fire and everything to do with whacking (forest managers) from the right or the left. And this isn’t getting us closer to resolving in specific ways the threats on the ground…”

London, UK, The Sun, July 19, 2022: My neighbour has cut down LOADS of my tree… they might be allowed to trim it but they’ve taken it too far – I’m fuming

IT’S arguably one of the biggest things that neighbours row about. But one woman has been left fuming after her next door neighbour went a bit too far while trimming the overhanging branches on her tree. A woman has taken to Mumsnet to complain after her neighbour cut down tonnes of her trees.
While she acknowledged that her neighbour has a right to trim the tree, she thinks they took it too far. In a post on Mumsnet, the woman wrote: “Neighbour has cut my tree… a lot!” She added: “How much is usual? I know they can trim overhanging branches, (but) they’ve gone right to the top of the tree.” However, while the woman – who also added a picture of the newly-trimmed tree – was incensed about the situation, others insisted it was the neighbour’s right to cut back anything overhanging. “Looks like they’ve just done the bits that overhang. They can cut it,” one wrote. Another added: “The trouble is, assuming all of the cut part overhung their garden, that the tree is too close to the boundary.” “Looks reasonable to me, they’ve taken off what they didn’t want on their side,” a third wrote. While someone else weighed in: “They can cut back anything that is over-hanging their boundary…

Chicago, Illinois, Tribune, July 17, 2022: Why grass struggles under trees, and what to plant there instead

A tree surrounded by green lawn is a pretty picture for many people, but it’s hard to achieve — and tough on the tree. “Turf grass and trees don’t go together well,” said Stephanie Adams, a plant pathologist at The Morton Arboretum in Lisle. “It’s not a good situation for either of them.” In the shade of a tree, where it doesn’t get enough sunlight, grass will usually struggle, becoming patchy and bare. “Grasses are full-sun plants,” Adams said. They are native to open grasslands, such as the steppes of Central Asia, where they evolved to grow in full sunlight with no shade. Most lawn grass needs six to eight hours of sunlight every day. Although some fescue grass species included in seed mixtures labeled for deep shade can get along on as little as two hours, the grasses typically used in American lawns will not thrive in the shade of a mature tree. Where grass is planted under trees, it can also cause problems for the tree. “Turf grass has a mat of shallow, dense roots that intercepts water, nutrients and air,” Adams said…

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