Sunday, July 22, 2012
Tree Folks Urban Forest Steward Program at Hornsby Bend
Yesterday was the first class in a series of 5 all day Saturday classes of the Tree Folks Urban Forest Steward program. Below is the list of goals for the class:
After introductions, which were impressive as most of the students are heavily involved in volunteer efforts in their own neighborhoods as well as several Master Gardeners and Master Naturalists, we met the staff and had an address from Mr. Keith O'Herrin of the City of Austin, PARD forestry department on the state of the urban forest. The summary was very interesting and shocking at the same time. Currently there is the development of an Urban Forest Master Plan in the works and after hearing some of the statistics, it's a darn good thing.
To date, Austin owns about 25% of the public space inside the city limits and a recent survey of trees found that we only have 40% of possible spaces planted, as opposed to say Milwaukee which has 98% of its public available tree space filled. We need an army of tree stewards to set this straight!
What we can call our tree resources to date is 125,000 street trees...those are the trees between the curb and the sidewalk, 175,000 park trees on 4,000 acres and 15,000 acres of undeveloped parkland.
The thing that caught my ear was his idea that street trees should be thought of as utility. The money saved from trees is amazing...and the next speaker, Ms. Ana Gonzalez (below) also from the forestry department, went into further depth on that issue as she spoke to us about "The Benefit of Trees."
We all love shade, especially in July but the Environmental, Social, Psychological and Economic value is enormous. Ms. Gonzalez was a lively and entertaining presenter.
We next heard from Ms. Denise Delaney on right tree, right place...I think most of us were familiar with that but the graph below I found to be a nice tool for testing soil drainage.
After what looked like a fantastic lunch from Central Market, we heard from Mr. Keith Brown of Austin Tree Experts on the "trees of central Texas." Again, an engaging presentation from a certified Arborist who has some definite opinions about what to and what NOT to plant...I didn't agree with everything he had to say...but mainly because I'm a fan of fruit trees, as he is not.
April Rose, Executive Director of Tree Folks brought in several samples of trees to help the class begin learning about tree identification through keying out the various kinds of leaves, flowers, fruits, seeds and nuts.
The facility at Hornsby Bend is lovely and comfortable and the day was respectfully divided up with lots of opportunity to meet new people (my favorite part) and gather information!
After looking at the various leaf types and patterns, we had a worksheet to fill out while we investigated the trees outside.(there was a drawing component...my second favorite part!)
April Rose, Executive Director of Tree Folks, Austin, Texas
When we could take the heat no more...we went inside to debrief and had a short quiz! Today on my morning walk, I used the trees along the arroyo as a refresher in keying them out and I wanted to see if the top 5 trees in town were the most abundant here in Crestview...and sure enough...that's what I found!
Live oak, Crapemyrtle, Hackberry, Pecan and Cedar Elm...only not so much of the last one.
It was a fabulous day and I got to spend it with several folks I already knew from various other organizations and from one of my favorite neighbors and friends, Emily Wilson, the Vice President of our neighborhood association. I think I'm going to try and get Ms. Rose to speak at CAMN! We all live in this beautiful city, and we all need to consider planting a few trees. Last year Tree Folks planted 13,000 trees with a staff of 4 and 3,000 volunteers. They have a variety of programs that you can apply for to get trees for your neighborhood and the application process is easy! I was able to get 17 trees for my street a few years ago and it's really helped cool the street and allowed neighbors to work together and get to know one another in a responsible, caring way.
The program that I am most interested in presently is The Urban Orchard Project, which is on hold until 2013, but these are available now:
and a variety of educational classes! Read about them here at treefolks.org
You can also become a member and donate $ to trees if time is short!
There are 4 more classes to the series and I can't wait for the next one! Thanks for joining me here and...