News Links – 2022

Sacramento, California, KOVR-TV, January 5, 2022: Getting Answers: Why Hasn’t PG&E Removed Marked Trees In Foresthill?

Residents in parts of Foresthill community of Placer County are still working to clear driveways and move debris while they wait for the power to be restored. On Cedar View Court, Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) trucks and other crews worked Wednesday to bring power lines back online. On the same street, trees marked or tied with bright highlighter colors tell crews those are trees that should be removed. But, the trees weren’t marked after the latest storm, and instead, were marked for removal in 2020. The removal was part of the 2020 Enhanced Vegetation Management Plan through PG&E. That safety work narrows in on areas that are deemed a high-fire threat area. The plan was created to address vegetation that may pose a higher potential for wildfire. In a statement to CBS13, a PG&E spokesperson outlined some of the work that falls under that Enhanced Vegetation Management Plan. It includes standards that exceed what the state outlines for minimum clearances around power lines, including pruning overhanging limbs and branches above power lines; additional inspections, beyond the routine patrols, to remove dead or diseased trees that are hazardous; tree evaluation on conditions, especially if the trees are within striking-range of power lines or equipment…

Mankato, Minnesota, January 5, 2022: Mankato to remove 50 ash trees around schools

With the ash-tree-killing emerald ash borer nearing Mankato, city officials and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources are working together to remove 50 trees along sidewalks leading to local schools. The preemptive removal is being done in the expectation the trees will die in coming years. Removing the trees before they succumb to the ash borer, which makes ash trees brittle and susceptible to dropping large branches, is a safety measure, said Justin Lundborg, a natural resources specialist for the city. Replacing the ash trees with other species now also means getting a jump on providing new shade trees for the routes. “The project is to increase the safety of our highest-use public sidewalks,” Lundborg said. The $48,000 project will boost the city’s planned ash removal in 2022 by 25% — a total of 250 trees. A DNR grant will cover $32,500 of the cost with the city providing the rest. The 50 trees to be removed, which must be within three blocks of a school, are currently being identified with removal scheduled for this winter and spring. High-quality ash trees will be spared and will be considered for chemical treatments that can ward off the invasive species. It’s just trees that are already declining, have poor structure, poor health, things like that,” he said of the removals…

New York City, The Wall Street Journal, January 5, 2022: California Finds PG&E Responsible for Dixie Fire

California investigators have concluded that PG&E Corp. power lines ignited a wildfire in the Sierra Nevada foothills last summer that exploded to become the second-largest in state history. Officials with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, or Cal Fire, said in a statement late Tuesday that the fire started after a tree came into contact with the company’s electrical distribution lines in the forested Feather River Canyon. Cal Fire officials said they forwarded their investigative report to the district attorney’s office in Butte County, where the fire started. The Dixie Fire, which ignited on July 13, grew to consume nearly a million acres across five counties and blackened swaths of scenic forest including much of Lassen Volcanic National Park. It destroyed more than 1,300 structures, including the small town of Greenville, and left one person dead…

Salem, Oregon, Capital Press, January 4, 2022: Tree tappers: Researcher envisions commercial maple syrup industry in NW

Taylor Larson got the idea to start tapping bigleaf maple trees at his family’s Willamette Valley farm in 2015. That first winter, he collected enough sap in aluminum buckets from two trees to make a few pints of maple syrup. It wasn’t fancy, but it allowed him to see the potential of adding another specialty crop to the farm’s repertoire. “We’re always looking to add more things to what we do,” said Larson, who runs My Brothers’ Farm in Creswell, Ore., south of Eugene with his brothers, Austin and Ben. Together, they produce organic hazelnuts, apples, pork and bison on about 320 acres along the Coast Fork Willamette River. A chunk of the land is also managed as riparian forest for fish and wildlife habitat. That allows bigleaf maples — native to the Pacific Northwest — to thrive on the property. While syrup production remains more of a hobby at My Brothers’ Farm, researchers at Oregon State University are studying what it would take to create a larger commercial industry akin to maple sugaring in the Northeastern U.S…

National Geographic, January 4, 2022: An imported tree fuels Patagonia’s terrifying summer fires

In Patagonia, that ultimate wild frontier at the end of the world, the arrival of summer used to come as a blessing. Snow receded. Lakes filled with fresh, clear snowmelt. The landscape came alive with color. Recently, though, summer has become a cause for fear. A series of fires last March nearly devoured La Comarca Andina, a fairy-tale forest in the Patagonia Mountains of Argentina. Along the 42nd parallel, the fires burned through more than 54,000 acres in just a few days. Three people died. Three hundred houses burned. Jesus Olmos remembers awakening to a horrific noise and the smell of smoke. He walked outside to find the surrounding forest an inferno. Gas tanks at nearby homes exploded like bombs, and a tongue of flame, whipped by the wind, was racing toward his home. “I ran as if from the roar of a dragon,” he says. His only chance to get out alive was to flee immediately. He opened the gates for his animals and ran through clouds of smoke that caused fits of coughing. With welts of burned flesh forming on his hands, face, and neck, left his previous life behind…

Phys.org, January 4, 2022: Risk vs. reward: How towns care for trees varies

When a hurricane or other violent storm blows through a community, one of the first pictures you’re likely to see is a fallen tree. But downed trees and limbs aren’t just a byproduct of storms—they are an everyday occurrence that can often be avoided with the right efforts. According to a new study by researchers at the University of Georgia, the perceptions residents have about these risks can greatly influence a community’s response. As a result, there’s often a gap between perception and reality that puts large parts of communities at risk. Published in the journal Land, the study looks at the intersection of urban forest risk management and how residents view the risks posed by community trees. By revealing a patchwork of responses that don’t always correspond with a community’s resources or staffing, it shows the gap between how residents identify risk and what’s needed to avoid it in the first place. “Some of our findings showed almost a disconnect between what municipalities are doing and what residents were doing. And that’s important because a huge amount of a city is going to be privately owned land,” said Abbie Judice, a recent graduate of the UGA Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources who is now an arborist with New Urban Forestry. “So, a lot of risk mitigation is happening on a municipal level, but community members weren’t aware of it. It was really like, person by person, if they were proactive about their own property’s risk management…”

Youngstown, Ohio, WFMJ-TV, January 3, 2022: Experts encourage prompt removal of Christmas trees due to fire concerns

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) is encouraging folks across the country to remove their Christmas trees after the holiday season due to fire safety concerns. According to the NFPA, nearly 30% of U.S. home fires involving Christmas trees occur during the month of January. With this in mind, the association encourages citizens to remove their Christmas trees as soon as possible. “As much as we all enjoy the look and feel of Christmas trees in our homes, they’re large combustible items that have the potential to result in serious fires,” said Lorraine Carli, NFPA’s vice president of Outreach and Advocacy. Carli adds that fresh Christmas trees, which continue to dry out and become much more flammable over time, are involved in a much larger share of reported Christmas tree-related fires compared to artificial trees. According to the latest data from NFPA, 160 home fires began with Christmas trees, resulting in two civilian deaths, 12 injuries and $10 million in direct property damage on average each year between 2015 and 2019…

Palo Alto, California, Palo Alto online, January 3, 2022: Belle Haven, East Palo Alto have far fewer trees than neighboring communities. Groups like Canopy hope to change that

Community members are up bright and early on Nov. 20 at All Five, a preschool in Menlo Park’s Belle Haven neighborhood. And they’re hard at work. Students are digging holes with shovels taller than they are. Parents are wicking away dirt from tree roots. Marty Deggeller, who’s been planting for 25 years in the area, stabilizes the young tree with a metal pipe so it will grow straight. By the end of the event, they’ll have planted 17 trees on the school grounds with Canopy, a tree planting nonprofit. Belle Haven residents Maria Cruz and her son Jeff Caceres dig holes together by the playhouse. For Cruz, the event is a special moment for her family and the community at large. “I want my son to come back in 10, 15 years and see how it’s doing,” Cruz says. “Trees are very important for us. Everyone should have them.” But in reality, not all communities do. There’s a severe shortage of tree canopy coverage in low-income neighborhoods. As average temperatures rise in the Bay Area, this means more extreme heat days for vulnerable communities. Palo Alto, a city with a median annual income of $158,000, has tree canopy coverage as high as 25% in some neighborhoods, according to the Healthy Places Index. Trees occupy a fourth of the land within the city…

Zanesville, Ohio, Times-Recorder, January 3, 2022: Plentiful oak trees now endangered in Ohio

Forestry is an often overlooked part of Ohio’s agricultural industry, although there are more than 8 million acres of forest lands in Ohio. That’s more acres than corn and soybeans combined. It has been said when Ohio was settled, the trees were so thick a squirrel could climb up a tree at Marietta and travel all the way to Lake Erie without ever touching the ground. Unfortunately, the feat was never documented and it is probable that no squirrel in their right mind would be tempted to try it. We do know, however, that early Ohio was covered with forests of oak, walnut, beach, elm, maple, ash, hickory and other species. The trees were so thick they could be a detriment to settlers trying to establish their farms. Early settlers found the trees essential for providing wood for their homes, barns and fences. They needed the wood to heat and light their homes. But the trees were so thick they kept sunlight from reaching cropland and had to be cut down or, in most cases, burned so crops could grow. Trees were considered a never-ending problem…

Phys.org, January 3, 2022: Accidental tree wound reveals novel symbiotic behavior by ants

One afternoon, during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic in Panama, a bored teenager with a slingshot and a clay ball accidentally shot entry and exit holes in a Cecropia tree trunk. These are “ant-plant” trees, which famously cooperate with fierce Azteca ants; the trees provide shelter and food to the ants, and in exchange the ants defend their leaves against herbivores. The next morning, to the student’s surprise, the Azteca alfari ants living within the Cecropia trunk had patched up the wound. This unexpected occurrence drove five curious high school students, with time on their hands, to participate in the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute’s (STRI) volunteer program, and they enlisted STRI scientist William T. Wcislo’s help in devising their experiment. Despite significant movement restrictions during the first wave of the pandemic, they roamed their neighborhood drilling holes into Cecropia trees and documenting the ants’ responses to the damage. They found that as soon as the plants had holes drilled into them, the ants ran to the wound area and began patching it up. Within 2.5 hours, the size of the hole had been significantly reduced and it was often completely repaired within 24 hours. Although some Azteca ants are known to defend their Cecropia host plants against herbivores, these new results, published in the Journal of Hymenoptera Research, reveal that not only do the ants behave in ways to minimize damage to their hosts, but when damage does occur, they actively work to fix it, particularly when their brood is directly threatened…

Lincoln, Nebraska, Journal-Star, January 1, 2022: Trees that are vital to Kentucky bourbon industry facing decline, report says

White oak trees that play a key role in the ecosystem and economy of Kentucky will see a significant decline soon without action to help the species regenerate. That’s the takeaway from a recent report from an organization called the White Oak Initiative, which is aimed at bringing attention to the challenges facing the tree and recommending ways to counter the looming decline. White oaks are a cornerstone species in forests of the eastern U.S., providing habitat and food for birds and animals and wood for wide range of products such as flooring and cabinets. In Kentucky, that includes barrels for the signature bourbon industry. Bourbon has to be aged in new charred oak containers, which give it color and flavor. All told, white oaks play a role in billions of dollars of economic activity in Kentucky annually. The problem is that they are not regenerating at a sustainable level, according to the report. Researchers estimated that 60 percent of the mature white oaks acres surveyed had no seedlings present, and 87 percent had no saplings. There are still plenty of high-quality white oaks in Kentucky and elsewhere, but there are relatively few younger trees coming on, raising a concern about a drop in the white oak population without changes in forest management, according to the initiative…

Nashville, Tennessee, WSMV-TV, December 31, 2021: Nashville tree company talks about importance of tree inspections ahead of bad weather

A local tree company talked about the importance of tree maintenance to possibly prevent tree damage on and around your home before bad weather. Cleaning up debris and nailing down items that can be blown away in your yard are just a few things homeowners should do before severe weather. Most Middle Tennessee will brace for severe storms over the next 24 hours. Music City Tree said they’d been bombarded with tree removal since the onset of the last storm a few weeks ago. “If you have a tree that’s concerning a couple of days before you know, get an arborist out there that can come out on an emergency response, take care of it before it is a problem,” Music City Tree Company Owner Orlando Stricklen said. Stricklen said maintenance is vital in the days, weeks, and even months ahead of severe weather. “A lot of people don’t understand that trees need maintenance. They need to be inspected like anything else, especially if you have large trees that are near your home,” Stricklen said. “You want to have those inspected at least once or twice a year to make sure that they’re healthy and to make sure they can withstand a storm…”

Washington, D.C. The Hill, December 29, 2021: Hawaiians told not to burn Christmas trees on popular sandbar

Hawaii’s Department of Land and Natural Resources has ordered residents to refrain from burning their Christmas trees on a popular Oahu sandbar. In years past, people have gathered at the sandbar nestled between the open Pacific Ocean and Kaneohe Bay to burn their Christmas trees in a bonfire. However, the state’s land agency has warned it is causing environmental damage. “People haul their trees to Ahu O Laka by boat and burning them is detrimental to the sandbar and the surrounding marine ecosystem,” Hawaii’s environmental law enforcement chief, Jason Redulla, said in a press release. This sentiment was echoed by the president of the Ko’olaupoko Hawaiian Civic Club, who highlighted the environmental impact as well as the land’s sacred meaning to Native Hawaiians…

Portland, Oregon, Oregonian, January 1, 2022: ‘Round over’ method of pruning trees often causes more harm than good: Ask an expert
Q: The trees on my property have long branches that have grown out during spring and summer. Do I have to cut them back? I’m afraid that cutting them will just cause more to be created and thus I’ll be in a mode of always having to prune them back. The trees are 20 years old. They are watered with sprinkler three days a week. No fertilizer. I think they are maples. – Yamhill County
A: Oh, my. It looks like a tree trimmer has repeatedly visited your neighborhood to “prune” the trees, not just your trees, but also those of your neighbors. The method that was used is a variation of topping, sometime referred to as a “round over.” Unfortunately, that sort of pruning is rarely, if ever, recommended by well-trained arborists. (SeeDon’t Top Trees!”) The outcome of cutting off the top of a tree or, in your case, across a relatively large branch, is shown in the illustration in “Tree Pruning” on Page 3, at the lower left. The new shoots that arise near the cut are loosely connected. Thus, once they become large enough, they will break loose and drop without warning…

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