treeplanting (4)

Bringing Trees Home

For over 15 years, through support from the PA Dept. of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR), the PA Urban and Community Forestry Council (PAUCFC) has been awarding tree planting grants to communities across the state.  The reach of the program is expanding as evident of more and more first-time applicants, such as the Waynesburg Borough who received a 2017 TreeVitalize grant. Waynesburg Borough, located in the very southwestern corner of Pennsylvania is just 50 miles south of Pittsburgh, PA. Waynesburg is not an “urban” area and therefore they questioned their qualification for this type of grant so we continue to stress the term communityforestry.

Waynesburg received a small grant to plant 13 trees in the Waynesburg Parks. The parks are four consecutive tracts of land, 2 blocks from Main Street and a gathering place for nearby residents and students from Waynesburg University. The planting took place on Friday, April 28, 2017 in celebration of Arbor Day. Staff from PA DCNR Bureau of Forestry, PA Urban and Community Forestry Council (PAUCFC) and two middle school science classes helped to plant the trees.

Tree holes were dug ahead of time and the right tree was placed next to each hole. Equipment was laid out for the students upon their arrival. Maps were printed to show where all the trees were to be planted. People were split into groups of 4 to 5 including a leader to demonstrate correct practices. There were too many students and not enough trees therefore a few students stood ideal while others shoveled or raked. At the end everyone reconvened to discuss the day.

What makes this tree planting unique is the connectedness between the place and those that planted the trees. Two of the Pa DCNR staff members that helped plant the trees are from Waynesburg. Additionally, the science teacher of the junior high science classes that volunteered that day was the same science teacher of the DCNR staff from over 20 years ago. In a small town, such connections are not uncommon but it certainly made the day feel more meaningful. The staff shared their memories of growing up in Waynesburg and of playing in the parks where the trees were planted. They spoke of how the students’ efforts of that day will be able to be seen years from now, and the impacts those trees will have on future generations.

For more information, please contact:
Shea Zwerver
Community Engagement Coordinator 
PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources
Bureau of Forestry | Rural & Community Forestry Section
400 Market St. | Harrisburg, PA 17105
Phone: 717.346.9583 | Fax: 717.783.5109 |

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Carla Hardy WV Project CommuniTree (CTree) is a program of Cacapon Institute in partnership with the WV Department of Environmental Protection (WV DEP) Chesapeake Bay Program that includes WV Division of Forestry (WV DOF), WV Conservation Agency (WVCA), WV Division of Highways (WV DOH), and the Eastern Panhandle Regional Development & Planning Council (Region 9). CTree promotes tree planting and education on public land through volunteerism in the Potomac Headwaters of West Virginia. The program also focuses on enhancing and promoting awareness of watershed and riparian area needs such as storm water management, water quality issues, buffer zone planting, and soil erosion. The program is volunteer based and engages stakeholders in the process of making priority decisions within their respective communities and offers a strong educational message along with a physical planting component.

Excited students planting trees at Eagle Intermediate School

Twenty groups successfully applied for CTree Kits in spring 2017, tied with spring 2016 for the most tree plantings in any single planting season. A wide range of volunteers participated, from elementary school students to seasoned adult volunteers, and a total of 428 new trees were planted.  All the projects were on public land or privately held land that is open to the public. Planting sites included schools (8), subdivisions (4), parks (2), fire stations (2), a 4-H camp (1), a church (1), a farm (1) and an animal adoption center (1). Projects took place in seven of the eight counties of the Potomac Basin.  Overall, the groups that received CTree Kits produced $47,558 worth of volunteer contribution, primarily in volunteer labor but some groups also provided their own donations of materials. The total volunteer contribution in spring 2017, including $4,674 in additional support, was $52,232.

Students planting trees at James Rumsey Technical Center

Since beginning in 2012, CTree has organized 161 CTree planting events, planted 5,052 trees, and engaged over 11,000 volunteers in more than 20,000 hours of volunteerism and tree stewardship activities.  The characteristics that made these volunteer groups successful include the ability to organize quality tree planting events, engage and educate a broad community of volunteers, and maintain healthy trees. Continuing to engage groups with these attributes will be beneficial to successfully marketing the CTree program and providing outreach to new and potential applicants in years to come.
For more information on Carla Hardy WV Project CommuniTree please visit:
Bob Hannah, Urban Forestry Coordinator, WV Division of Forestry
Tanner Haid, Urban Watershed Forester, Cacapon Institute
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Many communities plant bareroot trees in the spring because that’s what is available, they’re cheap and easy to handle. The drawback to planting bareroot trees in spring is their poor survival rate. The culprit is the lack of fibrous roots to take up water and nutrients and the need to water during dry periods in the summer.

Roots of a bareroot tree before going into a gravel bed.

Fall is a better time to plant bareroot trees because while the roots continue to grow, the crown of a tree will stop growing when air temperatures are cooler than soil temperatures. The drawback to fall planting is balled and burlap trees are usually the only stock available from nurseries, and are expensive and hard to handle. So what is a city to do? Construct a gravel bed!

Roots of a bareroot tree after going into a gravel bed, showing the fibrous root system produced.

A gravel bed is an irrigated pile of gravel where bareroot trees are heeled in and held from the spring until the fall.  During this time the above ground portion of the tree grows normally while a fibrous root system forms in the gravel. Trees are easy to remove from the gravel bed and transport to planting sites.
Hendricks, MN (population 694) showcases their Tree Gravel Bed

Over 60 Minnesota communities and counties are using gravel beds.  Pictured here is the largest, operated by Hennepin County (Minneapolis and western suburbs) with a 1,500 tree capacity, and one of the smallest in the City of Hendricks, in rural Minnesota, population 694.  Hendricks decided to showcase their gravel bed, by locating it in their busiest park.
Benefits of gravel beds:
  • Tree health and survival rate improved by:
    • Increasing fibrous roots, which minimizes transplant shock.
    • Planting in fall instead of the spring.
  • Money saved by using barefoot trees that are typically half the price of containerized trees and a quarter the price of balled and burlap trees.
  • Tree species availability increased because generally there are more species available as bareroot trees compared to containerized and balled and burlap trees.
  • Injuries by staff and volunteers decreased because bareroot trees are lightweight and usually need shallow holes.

The All You Need to Know About Community Gravel Beds by the University of Minnesota is a great resource to use to learn more about gravel beds and to get started on developing one. Download a copy today! .


For more information, please contact:
Jennifer Teegarden
Community Forestry Program Coordinator

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Asian Longhorned Beetle

In 2008, the exotic invasive Asian Longhorned Beetle (ALB) was first detected in the City of Worcester, Massachusetts.  Following the detection, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts established a cooperative program to eradicate ALB. To eradicate this pest, all infested trees are removed and chipped. Now, nine years later, well over 36,000 trees have been removed from public and private property, including from yards, parks, schools, and streets within the current 110 square mile regulated area that encompasses the entire City of Worcester, the second most populous city in all of New England after Boston, and four surrounding towns and portions of another one.

In response to this large-scale tree removal, the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) developed a well-coordinated reforestation plan, including a broad coalition of partners to work in cooperation so as to quickly restore the tree canopy for the regulated area. With federal funding provided through the United States Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), the United States Forest Service (USFS) and Commonwealth dollars, to date, the DCR Urban and Community Forestry Worcester Reforestation Program has planted 18,766 trees on both public and private property.


This effort required significant outreach and education efforts on the part of DCR and partners. DCR hired full-time urban and community foresters specifically for the reforestation program and they worked with public and private landowners to gain approval to replant trees on public and private property. Each spring and fall, DCR hired a number of tree planters from within the community to plant the trees by hand. DCR Reforestation staff also educated citizens and the community in proper tree care and maintenance.  When not overseeing the planting crews, the DCR urban and community foresters scheduled appointments to meet with property owners to discuss tree planting options, selecting the right tree for the right place from an offering of over 30 trees, including large shade trees, ornamentals, and conifers, ensuring a tree for every location.

Until ALB is declared eradicated from the Worcester area, both tree removal and tree planting numbers will continue to climb, although these numbers now grow at a much slower pace than nine years ago.  While removing trees to control the beetle is not an ideal option for most tree owners, they do have another option, and that is to have a new one planted on their property.

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Share your urban forestry achievements here!

The Urban and Community Forestry Committee is comprised of urban forestry coordinators from each of the 20 member states and the District of Columbia. Urban forestry coordinators are responsible for leading state-level urban forestry programs in their respective states. Urban forestry is about the trees where people live, work and play - and so, includes trees and forests in our towns, along our streets, in our parks and in our backyards. State coordinators work with a wide range of constituents and partners including: local and tribal governments, school districts, nonprofits and community-based organizations all focused on improving the stewardship of trees and the ecosystem services they provide.

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