At Friends of Trees, we are committed to doing everything we can to help our community gain access to the benefits of trees. We are also committed to making our green workforce accessible to all groups of people through the Adult Urban Forestry Training & Internship Program.
As first shared in our November 2018 edition of Treemail, the UF Training Program, funded by the East Multnomah Soil & Water Conservation District, is a 12 week paid training program focusing on urban forestry and restoration topics. Program participants were selected by local Community Benefit Organizations (APANO, POIC,Verde, and Wisdom of the Elders) that are also Friends of Trees partners. Program participants attended weekly training sessions focusing on landscape design, tree identification, tree maintenance, ecological site design, environmental justice, and careers in urban forestry.
We are now in the first full year of the UF Training Program. The 10-week training program was completed in the fall, followed by the coordination of internships at host sites for program participants. The goal of the entire program is to help people who are interested in the urban forestry and restoration fields gain meaningful work experience and exposure to the field so they can pursue higher education opportunities and higher-level jobs.
We are almost complete with the internship portion of the program, with interns working at varying sites in Portland, Beaverton, and Vancouver, including Honl Tree Care, Portland Parks and Recreation, Verde, and Friends of Trees. Two of our interns, Bruce and David, have been interning with the City of Vancouver’s Urban Forestry program; their internship supervisor, Jessica George, Education and Outreach Coordinator for Vancouver’s UF Program, shares how valuable Bruce and David were to the Urban Forestry team this winter and spring:
“We truly enjoyed hosting two spectacular interns through Friends of Trees,” shares Jessica. “David and Bruce were dedicated to getting the job done–and done to an impeccable standard. David and Bruce supported winter planting projects, pruning and mulching young trees in parks and along streets, and they installed plaques on the new Heritage Trees. Along the way they interacted with other City staff, community members, and dedicated volunteers, while representing Wisdom of the Elders, Friends of Trees, and the City of Vancouver seamlessly. We appreciate their work ethic and that they were open and willing to learn and support Urban Forestry.”
The interns also get a lot out of the experience. Many participants had some exposure to the urban forestry field but hadn’t received upper level mentorship or hadn’t been exposed to the different levels of work involved. When asked about their experience working with Vancouver Urban Forestry, both Bruce and David highlighted the community-building aspect of urban forestry and tree planting:
“It was great to work with that spectrum of the field, with the Urban Forestry department specifically. I never realized it was more than just trees and plants, but it’s also people. The bond that the City builds with residents is really awesome.” –Bruce, UF Intern
David echoed the same sentiments when describing his experience, “My experience was really great. The thing I liked about it was the work we did with the community at planting events. Vancouver UF works with different people and communities and when we plant new trees, it is at community-based events so we can make a bond with the people we work with.”
We are grateful for community members like Bruce and David who are so passionate about making our environment a better place, and for partners like Vancouver Urban Forestry who help make that possible. We look forward to sharing more about this program as is continues and grows, stay tuned!
Picture above, in front, UF Program Intern David at a recent Vancouver planting event with happy tree recipients.
Some of the Why, Where, and What-Have-You of planting trees in the city with Friends of Trees
Since 1989 Friends of Trees has been growing our urban canopy through planting street and yard trees in neighborhoods. A LOT changes during 30 years of tree planting! We continually work with our city and county partners to ensure the right tree is planted in the right place, and since every location is different we are used to getting quite a few questions. Here are answers to some of the questions we get the most:
I want a smaller/larger tree for my planting strip but all the trees on this list are just too big/small, why can’t I get a smaller/larger street tree?
We work closely with our municipal partners and we can only plant trees that are on their approved street tree planting lists. One of the goals of our program, and the partners we work with, is to increase the urban canopy in order to maximize the benefits. In other words, the larger the tree, the more the urban canopy grows, which provides more benefits in terms of cooling in the heat of summer, providing oxygen, and cleaning our air and water. So when a planting site allows it we need to optimize the size of the tree planted, and consequently, maximize the benefits provided. We also want to make sure we aren’t planting trees that are too big, in order to protect existing urban infrastructure. So these same guidelines ensure we aren’t planting over-sized trees in spaces that are too small.
I want to plant a fruit tree in my planting strip and I know you have them, why aren’t they on my list of approved street trees?
Fruit trees are only approved for certain spaces, such as yards or planting strips that are six feet or larger and have overhead primary power lines (however, Vancouver and Clark County do not allow fruit trees to be planted as street trees at all). If you’d like a fruit tree for your yard in addition to your street tree, we offer a wide variety, including apple, pear, plum, fig, and persimmon.
I only want native trees for my street tree and you only have one native on this list, why don’t you plant more natives?
Right Tree Right Place! We love native trees, but many tend to get pretty big and just won’t work in some planting locations due to overhead power lines, if the strip isn’t wide enough, a nearby intersection, etc. We want to make sure your tree is the best tree for your planting spot! We also want to plant as diversely as possible toward a resilient urban forest. P.S. Want to plant some natives? Join one of our Green Space planting events–all natives, all the time.
I want a street tree, but will it break the sidewalk?
Again, Right Tree Right Place! The trees offered by Friends of Trees do not have aggressive root systems and are specially approved to minimize such conflicts. Proper watering also helps. Deep watering for the first three years after planting encourages tree roots to grow deeper in the soil, we recommend 15 gallons a week during the summer for the tree’s first three years, and as needed in the future when temperatures are extreme. Keep in mind that we cannot guarantee that the trees we offer will never buckle sidewalks, as they are living beings and situations vary. We do our best and encourage you to keep an eye on your tree.
I’m concerned that tree roots will damage the sewer pipe, doesn’t this happen?
A tree’s roots grow where the growing is easy, they are opportunistic and not invasive. They do not seek out water or sewer pipes unless the pipes are leaking. Further, 90% of tree roots are in the top 2-3 feet of soil, and most sewer lines are deeper than that. Your municipal tree inspectors take into account the location of your water meter and assigns the planting location within the guidelines of the water company.
Can you help me remove a tree so I can plant a new one with you?
We can’t help you with a tree removal, but you can re-plant with our program if the city allows you to remove your tree. If you want to remove trees in your yard, check with the city to see if there are laws affecting your tree. To remove a street tree, you need a permit. Contact your city’s urban forestry department directly for a removal inspection, a list of contact information for our municipal partners is here. It’s a good idea to request that the city mark “all approved locations.” If you want to re-plant with us after removal please include on your application that you are working with Friends of Trees. Visit our website for more information about tree removal and replacement.
The approved locations where the trees are going are strange, can you change the location?
Unfortunately we can’t change the location. All street tree locations are based on a city inspection, and there are many factors involved, including distance from underground utilities, overhead lights and power lines, utility poles, fire hydrants, intersections, and street signs. Planting in the spot chosen by the inspector will help ensure your street tree has the best shot at surviving–and thriving!
Love trees? Looking for meaningful work in a supportive, fun work environment? Then check out our opening for a Neighborhood Trees Specialist.
Neighborhood Trees Specialists implement community-based, neighborhood street tree planting projects in collaboration with volunteer Neighborhood Coordinators, Neighborhood Associations and other partner groups in accordance with the Friends of Trees’ mission. Ideal candidates will be personable, creative and adaptable; have a background or interest in community tree planting and care; able to juggle multiple priorities at once; and have a desire to work with diverse communities and individuals of all backgrounds.
Interested? Details here.
Dear FOT: The weight of the snow and ice is causing my new trees to lean and bend over. What should I do? Will my trees be OK? I wonder how many people with taller, newer trees are going to have this problem from the ice…
-Jacob in Rose City Park, Portland
As your young tree collects ice and snow, it may gain a little winter weight. (Yep, we’ve all been there.) New trees are especially vulnerable to the extra weight, as their young, flexible branches may begin to bend under the heavy load. There are a few ways you can help your tree deal with challenging winter conditions.
Reduce the weight. If the extra weight is snow build-up, consider brushing loose snow off the trees branches with something soft, like a broom. Take care not to damage the tree’s branches. Some extra weight, like frozen ice, should not be removed from the tree. In doing so you may do more harm than good by damaging the tree’s living tissues.
Support your tree. Keep an eye on your tree during ice storms. If your tree’s branch or leader is beginning to bend, simply prop it up with a board, a bucket, a ladder, or some other kind of sturdy support to keep it from bending further and potentially breaking. If the branch is already touching the ground, it can be left in place as its weight is now being supported by the ground. If a branch is at risk of bending further, place a support under the branch to keep it from bending any lower and potentially breaking. You do not want to try to bend the tree back into shape; just prop it up a little bit to support the weight.
Prune off broken branches. If a branch has already been damaged and broken from the heavy load, you’ll want to remove the rest of a damaged branch to help the tree heal. Don’t just cut randomly; make sure to cut back to the closest branch collar. (Not sure what that means? Check out this article about proper pruning.)
Your tree should return to normal position as the ice melts off. If not, consider re-staking your tree to straighten it out. Earlier this week we re-staked some newly planted broadleaf evergreens which were uprooted from the weight of the heavy ice. They’ll probably be fine, but it’s good to correct these issues as soon as possible!
–Ian Bonham is a Neighborhood Trees Specialist at Friends of Trees
Have a tree care question? Send yours into email@example.com.
Hey! My name’s Bryan, and I am working as an intern (via the Duke Engage program) for the summer here at Friends of Trees. In my position, I support both the Neighborhood Trees and Green Space programs as they perform necessary administrative and maintenance tasks in between planting seasons. We don’t plant in the summer because many trees would not be able to survive the shock of being dug up and then planted in a new location during the hot summer months. But even though there are no planting events going on, we still have much work to do! Planning an entire year’s worth of planting events for both of our main programs is no small feat. Our team is hard at work making sure that our previously planted trees are doing well and that our upcoming plantings run as smoothly as possible.
The Green Space team is going back through all of our planting sites from the past year, doing maintenance which is vital to the survival of the native ecosystems we work to restore. Without the care of the summer maintenance team, many of the trees and shrubs planted by our awesome volunteers would not be able to survive their first years in their new environments. Much of our maintenance work involves removing invasive plants from planting areas, putting down mulch, and watering the new trees and shrubs. I’ve found that I have conflicting feelings towards Himalayan blackberry, one of Oregon’s most prevalent invasive species. With its fast-growing, spiky, and hardy stems, this plant gives our team quite a challenge at most of our sites. However, the berries it produces are a delicious snack, especially after working out in the sun all day!
The Neighborhood Trees program has several different projects going on during the summer months. Volunteer Summer Inspectors travel around the city, checking on the health of all of the trees we have planted over the past year. They even go back and check on a portion of trees that have been planted more than a year ago, to make sure that our trees are continuing to thrive on Portland’s streets. Any trees that seem unhealthy are checked on by our staff, and we work with homeowners to help their trees grow or replace any trees that have died. Our canvassing team is working its way across Portland, talking to homeowners and trying to find new places for us to develop the city’s urban canopy. Back at the office, our staff is working hard doing all sorts of administrative work that helps us re-organize and transition from one planting season to the next.
I’m from the east coast, and have never been to the western part of the country until this summer. Since coming here, I’ve been absolutely astounded by how green Portland is. The people who live here clearly care a lot about their environment, which is why I see so many beautiful trees and gardens around the city. Exploring different neighborhoods on my Summer Inspector routes, I’ve witnessed firsthand how urban street trees really benefit those who live near them. Especially during the summer, trees provide streets and buildings with awesome shade and insulation. The air quality is noticeably nicer in areas with more foliage, which is so important for cities that have a lot of car and bus traffic. Plus, in my opinion, trees just look beautiful, and make urban landscapes much more pleasant and liveable. I can confidently say that Portland has the best commitment to preserving and increasing its natural resources out of any city I’ve been to. A huge part of that commitment comes from individuals, either by maintaining trees and gardens on their own properties, or by volunteering with organizations like us!
Bryan Higgins is the Duke Engage Intern with Friends of Trees