Citizen Forester: September Update

We’re reaching out to give Citizen Foresters and Citizen Forester trainees updates for the month of September! 

Month In Review

In the month of August we hosted 2 After Work Tree Times (AWTT), a tree ID class, 2 BBQ & Beautify events, 3 Community Forestry Input Sessions, we graduated 2 new Citizen Foresters and boogied at the Green Gala- Let’s recap!

“Citizen Forester Update” is a monthly feature of the Urban Forest Project that gives us the opportunity to recap the news and events of the last month. Below you will find information and links from August, including mentions in the media, important announcements, blog postings, class photos, upcoming events and more.

After Work Tree Time
We continued our After Work Tree Time season on August 3rd along Kalamazoo Avenue. Low hanging branches were removed to clear them from the road, from buildings or sidewalks, to make signs visible, or to open up a desirable view. Special recognition to Eric Tank for coming out to his first AWTT, thus completing his Citizen Forester Certification and to Robert, an Oakdale resident who attended his very first Urban Forest Project event!

Our last After Work Tree Time of the season was held on August 18th at Roosevelt Park. Trees that were planted for Arbor Day 2014 received some routine pruning and maintenance, many hazard branches were removed for safety, walking paths were made more open and visible, park trees were mulched, street trees were crown raised, invasive trees of heaven were removed and laughs were shared! Special shout out to Morgan, our newest Citizen Forester for completing her certification on August 18th. 

Volunteers also pruned trees at two BBQ & Beautify events! On August 16th Lee, Anita and Heather pruned street and park trees at Joe Taylor Park, increasing the safety of the splash pad area (which had honey locust branches growing into it!) and the clearance of sidewalks. On August 31st Citizen Forester  Tom pruned in and around Sigsbee Park. Thank you to all the volunteers and Citizen Foresters who helped with this year’s AWTT’s and those who pruned during our BBQ & Beautify events! A total of 13 locations received much needed maintenance because of your helping hands!  Remember, pruning is both an art and a science, and it can often be challenging at first.  But practice makes perfect!

Why prune a tree? For Health, safety, aesthetics, to maintain natural tree form and to stimulate or restrict growth! Click here to learn more about why, when and how to prune your trees.

Tree ID & Planting Season
On August 8th we held our third Tree ID class of the summer at the Blandford Nature Center! Citizen Forester Heather assisted in identifying tree samples that were used in class.  

So all this tree ID’ing you’ve been doing this summer is starting to make you think about planting a new tree in your own yard, or helping to plant one in a community park-eh? Good! Because tree planting season is just around the corner. Our tree planting season kicks off the first week of October and we hope you can join us!

Thinking of planting a tree in your yard this fall?
If you think spring is the only time to do major work in your yard, you just may be surprised. Fall is actually the perfect time to work on landscaping. Whether you’re looking for small ornamental trees or taller shade trees, here is a link to Arbor Day Foundation’s Tree Wizard which may be able to help you find the perfect tree to add to your yard this fall!

Remember, the key to success when planting a tree is carefully choosing one that matches your site conditions. While some trees are tremendously adaptable to a wide range of conditions, many are quite habitat-specific. Before you start selecting a tree know your site, including the exposure, soil texture, pH, moisture conditions, weed problems, and the history of land use.

Community Forestry Input Sessions
In August we also hosted three community input sessions for three separate neighborhoods: Baxter, Oakdale and JBAN! During input sessions the Urban Forest Project presented neighborhood-level data to attendees to make them more knowledgeable about the condition of their neighborhood’s urban forest. Community Forestry Input Sessions are intended to be a collaborative, community driven effort that provides an opportunity for residents, business owners, and supporters alike, to be a part of creating neighborhood-level forestry strategic plans that help to grow a larger and healthier tree canopy.

In response to recent and potential impacts to Grand Rapids’ urban tree canopy including, but not limited to, the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) infestation, climate change, and individual severe weather events the Urban Forest Project encourages neighborhoods and neighborhood associations to develop broad scope urban forest strategic plans. These plans detail and explain current public tree inventory data on the neighborhood-level and make recommendations for urban tree management of neighborhood parks and street rights-of-way.

Know any GRPS teachers, parents or administrators that also love trees?
We’re looking for teachers interested in sharing tree knowledge with their students this fall! Planting for Our Future (PFOF) is a project geared towards helping children understand the benefits of trees in their communities.  As a part of this project, we are offering teachers and school administrators and/or collaborating GRPS/parents the funding, technical assistance, trees, or support to host an Urban Forest Project event within their school! For more information visit our seedlings blog!

Confusion with Asian Longhorned beetle look-alikes
August was tree check month. Did you get an opportunity to check your trees for pests and disease? If not, do it now! We encourage residents to keep an eye out for signs of the extremely destructive Asian longhorned beetle (ALB). This invasive beetle, a native of China, could attack many of our valuable native tree species, including maples, birches, poplars and willows. Only a few ALB populations have been found in the U.S., but two of those, one in southern Ohio and one west of Toronto, Ontario, are close enough to be a concern. Although the beetles themselves don’t travel far from year to year, humans assist in their spread by moving wood materials such as infested firewood. Find out more on ALB and it’s look alikes from our seedlings blog!

Join the Mayor’s Greening Team! 
We are still looking for a couple more dedicated volunteers to help with the inaugural Mayors Greening Initiative, a large tree planting (we’re talkin’ 300 trees!) that will be held on October 28th!

You probably already know that trees provide amazing social, economic, and environmental benefits to our City and you know that Grand Rapids has a 40% tree canopy goal. You also may know that Grand Rapids has a current canopy cover of 34.6% which means that our community is only 5.4% shy from reaching our goal.

In order to gain that 5.4% canopy increase, the Mayor’s Greening Initiative was created and the very first planting will occur this fall!  The Mayor’s Greening Initiative is a program that targets areas of our city with low tree canopy cover and plants them with trees. We are looking for dedicated volunteers who can be planting leaders during the October 28th tree planting. Send us an email if you are interested or would like more information!



As always, thank you for believing in the problem-solving role that trees can play and thank you for taking action with the Urban Forest Project. 

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