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


Hurricane Ryan – Mock Disaster Response Training Has Begun


Crew evaluates storm-damaged tree for risk

After the initial response operations had subsided and transition to recovery operations has started following the fictitious Hurricane Ryan along the Virginia coast, Virginia Beach, Portsmouth, and Norfolk have requested on September 6, 2013 Urban Forest Strike Team (UFST) assistance through their local emergency management officials.  The Virginia Department of Emergency Management (VDEM) has called upon the Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF) to fill the resource request.  Through the Emergency Operations Center, John Miller and Paul Revell (both VDOF) have confirmed that VDOF can provide a Team Leader and enough resources for four UFST crews.  This will include one crew from Fairfax County, VA through the in-state mutual aid (SMA) compact. 

To round out the initial request from these cities for two Team Leaders, six UFST crews, and GIS support, a request through the Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC) operations system was submitted by VDEM Logistics Staff.  North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia EMAC representatives have responded to VDEM as locating the remaining resources. 

The Team Leader (Jim McGlone, VDOF), Assistant Team Leader (Alan Moore, North Carolina Forest Service), and GIS Specialist (Charles Bailey, Georgia Forestry Commission) will report to the exercise command center located at the Landscape Management Division offices in Virginia Beach on Monday, September 9 at 2 p.m.  The remaining resources will meet at the same location on Tuesday, September 10 at 1 p.m.  This operation is expected to end at noon on Thursday, September 12.

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!

Texas Emerging Communities

Many Texas communities are growing at an astounding rate. Small communities face unique obstacles during times of accelerated urbanization; community leaders need planning tools and technical support systems to help them prepare for high velocity growth before it happens – not after. To address this, the Texas A&M Forest Service is working with multiple partners on a state-wide project to educate community leaders and staff to proactively manage high velocity growth to improve quality of life by the conservation, protection, and enhancement of their natural resources. The project addresses six main focus areas: sustainable planning, community forestry, environmental health, wildfire protection, water conservation, and emergency management. The project website includes information about each of these focus areas and includes case studies, municipal tree ordinances, tree preservation ordinances, related web resources, how-to guides, and other informational resources.

To learn more visit: http://www.texasemergingcommunities.org/