The Main Drive Behind Forest Fires

forest-fireTemperatures are rising and forest fires, already larger and more frequent than the historical norm, are projected to increase dramatically with anthropogenic warming.

That’s the general consensus among scientists studying the relationship between fire activity and climate change in the Sierra Nevada. But a study released last week found an influence on past fire activity even greater than climate: human beings.

Since 1600, the way humans have used land in the Sierra has had more effect on fire behavior than climate change, said Valerie Trouet, associate professor of dendrochronology at the University of Arizona and lead coauthor of the study, published November 14 by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

To read more, click here.

Kids Who Play More Outdoors May be Less Likely to Have Problems with Peers

peer-problem Kids who spend more time outdoors seem to gain a boost in their peer relations, per a new report from Statistics Canada. In September, the agency released a report on outdoor time, physical activity and sedentary time and health indicators of Canadians aged 7 to 14.

Canadian guidelines suggest that kids between 5 and 17 years old get at least 60 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity physical activity per day. Only 9 percent of children do. (The rule of thumb is if you’re able to carry on a conversation easily then you’re not working hard enough.)

Each additional hour spent outdoors was associated with:

  • 7 more minutes of moderate-to-vigorous activity.
  • 762 more steps.
  • 13 fewer minutes of sedentary time.

Additionally, children reporting more time outdoors were less likely to have peer relationship problems compared with those who spent less time outside, Mark Tremblay of the Healthy Active Living and Obesity Research Group at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario and his team said in Health Reports.

To read the full article, click here.

An Audit Framework for Urban Forest Sustainability and Management

The Urban Forest Sustainability & Management Audit System is designed to provide a framework for comprehensively evaluating urban forest management programs.

The primary objectives of the audit are to:

  • engage the full spectrum of the organizations’ management team: executive, financial, resource, and outreach,Chapel garden many colors
  • provide program direction that increases the level of professionalism in urban forest management,
  • conduct a gap analysis of management practices and the health of green assets
  • increase the health of the green assets managed by the program, and…
  • optimize this management for identified ecosystem services (i.e. reach an acceptable benefit:cost ratio).

This audit system (the checklist and the process) can be used for municipal or county urban forest management programs, or to evaluate college or corporate campus management programs.  The system is particularly suited for the independent evaluation of participants in Arbor Day Foundation programs like Tree Campus USA®, Tree City USA® or Tree Line USA®.

The checklist and spreadsheet tool were developed in cooperation with Agnes Scott College Office of Sustainability and the ASC Arboretum Advisory Committee.  Agnes Scott College is located in Decatur, Georgia.

Tree Risk Management, Disasters, and Professional Arborists

Basal decay on oakSpeakers at the Nebraska Arborists Association Great Plains Conference (January 16-17 in Lincoln, NE) covered several topics related to tree risk.  Matt McKeever (Copple, Rockey & McKeever, PC) covered The Law, John Fech (University of Nebraska – Lincoln) discussed Tree Hazard Awareness, and Dudley Hartel (Urban Forestry South) presented Planning for Disaster – The Professional Arborists Role, and Disaster Response – Urban Forest Strike Teams & Municipal Arborists.

Click here for copies of the Urban Forestry South presentations in PDF format that includes the presentation notes.

Urban Forest Strike Team_Virginia Beach Mock Disaster Exercise Orientation

UFST crews arrive at the Virginia Beach command center for orientation.  Seventeen Task Specialists from Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina participated in the pre-deployment training session.  Jim McGlone (VDOF Team Leader) welcomed everyone to the area and then asked Susan French (Va Beach Municipal Arborist), Michael Nentwith (Norfolk City Forester), and Meg Pittenger (Portsmouth, Parks Manager) to give the team a brief overview of their concerns in the event of an actual storm and their hopes for this project.  Jim gave a general safety briefing and reviewed the UFST data collection protocol including the feature file definitions.  Alan Moore walked the crews through GPS equipment set-up, project creation, and data collection.  The crews drove to Red Wing Park for a quick refresher on the ANSI A-300 tree risk assessment protocol.  Some data were collected by the crews at Red Wing Park that were downloaded by the GIS support crew and displayed on aerial imagery.

UFST team members include:

Virginia Department of Forestry

  • Rich Reuse
  • Mike Aherron
  • Tom Callahan
  • Gerald Crowell
  • Eric Filep
  • Jim McGlone
  • Ken Sterner
  • David Terwilliger
  • Jason Braunstein (VDOF GIS Intern)

NC Forest Service

  • Guy Meilleur (Consulting Arborist)
  • Alan Moore
  • Paul Mowrey
  • Jennifer Rall
  • Duane Truslow
  • Doug White

City of Durham, NC

  • Alex Johnson

Fairfax County

  • Todd Nelson
  • Hugh Whitehead

Georgia Forestry Commission

  • Charles Bailey (UFST GIS Specialist)
Erik Filep (VDOF) and Paul Mowrey (NCFS) assess trees at Red Wing Park during the orientation
Erik Filep (VDOF) and Paul Mowrey (NCFS) assess trees at Red Wing Park during the orientation

 

VA Beach Disaster Exercise 005
Meg Pittenger (Portsmouth Parks Manager) provides information about Portsmouth’s street rights-of-way to the strike team members during Tuesday afternoon’s orientation

 

Virginia Urban Forestry (& Friends) – Preparing for Disaster!

Strong winds topple yellow poplar
Strong winds topple yellow poplar

Paul Revell, U&CF Coordinator for the Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF), has organized a mock disaster exercise that will provide much more than a training exercise for Urban Forest Strike Team (UFST) crews in Virginia.  Paul has engaged 3 communities in the Tidewater Area – Virginia Beach, Norfolk, and Portsmouth – plus Virginia Department of Emergency Management (VDEM), Fairfax County (VA), and UFST crews from the North Carolina Forest Service (NCFS).  Urban Forestry South is assisting with technical support.

Jason Eaton of VDEM is managing the mock exercise that will include mobilization of VDOF UFST crews, state mutual aid involvement from Fairfax County, and an EMAC request for resources to his North Carolina EMAC counterpart Carolyn Freitag.

Jim McGlone (VDOF) and Alan Moore (NCFS) will be the Team Leader and Assistant Team Leader for the exercise, and Charles Bailey (Georgia Forestry Commission) will be the UFST GIS Specialist.  Texas A&M Forest Service is providing logistics support for the mobilization.

Paul has identified several objectives for the exercise:

  • Demonstrate UFST capabilities to VDEM, FEMA and the Army Corps of Engineers who will be attending training in the area during that week, and to municipal urban foresters and local emergency managers in the Tidewater Area
  • Continuing education for a full range of UFST resources
  • An opportunity to use the UFST risk assessment protocol based on the ANSI A300 (Part 9) and ISA Tree Risk Assessment BMP
  • Exercise the EMAC connection between Virginia and North Carolina so that we better understand the ability to respond regionally (i.e. across state lines).
  • Exercise State Mutual Aid between the City of Virginia Beach and Fairfax County for UFST resources

Following a VDOF/VDEM/UFS conference call briefing with the three communities, the participants identified 3 important outcomes from the exercise (in addition to the training and actual exercise protocol):

  1. A standardized UFST Damage Report “Template” that would be used by localities to submit Preliminary Damage Assessment requests (PDA)
  2. An urban forester (and UFST) training package for damage assessment needed to support the PDA
  3. A method to easily list UFST trained crews in a state (by organization) for mutual aid (from www.UFST.org)

The exercise will begin on September 6th when VDEM initiates the “mock” resource request through the EOC, and continues on the 9th when Paul Revell meets at the Virginia Beach exercise “command center” with the team leaders, community urban forest managers, and Eric Kuehler (Urban Forestry South).  The UFST crews will be mobilized to arrive on September 10th.

Urban Foresters Prepare for Disaster

Once spring arrives in the region, the threat of ice storms may wane but hurricane season looms!

Ice and wet, heavy snow are not uncommon weather events in Oklahoma, Arkansas, Kentucky, and Virginia from December through February.  Along the Gulf and Atlantic coasts the summer threat of hurricanes is always present.  tree defectsAnd these coastal storms often spawn extreme wind events and soil soaking rain inland throughout the South and Midwest.  What should urban forest managers do to prepare for these events?

In the past year several projects have been completed that help guide municipal and urban forest managers.

A Central Alabama Regional Planning and Development Commission (CARPDC) project by Rachel Barker developed the Vegetative RiskManagement Plan (VRMP) and collaboration strategies for urban forester engagement with local emergency managers.  This project also includes the Urban Tree Risk Index (UTRI) tool that is a GIS process for developing risk management zones on a county or multi-county basis.  Get the list of links here…

The Friends of Hawaii’s Urban Forest (FHUF) recently announced the Urban Forestry Emergency Operations Planning Guide for Storm Response (UFEOP Guide) developed by Teresa Trueman-Madriaga.  This guide provides urban forestry professionals concrete approaches when preparing for natural disasters that impact the urban forest.  The guide contains 10 key components of preparedness: planning, safety, communications, contracts, incident command system, inventory, mutual aid agreements, training, vegetative debris, and vulnerability.  Get the guide at Smart Trees Pacific…

And, the Georgia Forestry Commission and Georgia Urban Forest Council recently completed Community Forest Storm Mitigation Planning for Georgia Communities prepared & presented by Connie Head.  Initial workshops were held in Gainesville, Marietta, and Mansfield for urban forestry staff, municipal/county managers, and local emergency managers.  The combination workbook & template are used to guide community planning and preparation for urban tree mitigation.  Download the workbook & template here…

A key message from all of these projects: know and reduce urban tree risk!