"There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root." - Thoreau

Monday, September 30, 2013

2013-14 Dallas Reforestation Program

"So it begins." - Theoden, The Two Towers (LOTR)

Yes, the Autumn has crept upon us and the requests for trees are coming in.  It's the season when shovels will be hitting the dirt, mulch will be piling up (hopefully not in volcanoes) around newly planted trees, trucks with long beds will be hauling trees down neighborhood streets on early Saturday mornings, and scores of people will begin to enjoy the new trees on their neighborhood street.  The regeneration efforts for the Dallas urban forest will be renewed. The Reforestation Program is underway and our designated October 1 cutoff date for new orders is upon us.  

The Reforestation Fund is a program administered through the City of Dallas' Department of Sustainable Development and Construction, under direction of the the city arborists office, for the purchase of trees to be delivered and planted on public property across the city for urban forest regeneration. The Fund is added to each year by tree mitigation payments (mostly through land development) made for the removal of protected trees under the Article X landscape and tree preservation ordinance. Where trees are not planted back onto the removal property through required landscaping, the Fund is available to builders to address the remaining inches to be replaced. This Fund is used to purchase the trees through pre-determined vendors for this program.

Now, we get busy pulling together orders and checking to make sure we're not planting trees on gas lines or next to fire hydrants. Yes, it's true that we sometimes have to reject a request or two, but these are rare.  In the end, we'll have dozens of satisfied residents digging holes, planting trees and nurturing them for years to come.  The trees they plant will be the great shade trees that will help define the livability and character of that neighborhood for generations to come.  

Last year was a high-water mark for us as our vendors delivered over 1400 trees, purchased through the Fund, for the season between October 1 through the end of March.  These trees were delivered to parks, neighborhood streets, thoroughfare medians and schools. We expect more of the same with planting dates coming up as early as November 2 when the Texas Trees Foundation hosts a part of its JFK Groves planting event at Friendship Park in northeast Dallas. 

On November 9, we'll be delivering trees to the Big Thicket at White Rock Lake for a major planting event by Dallas Parks and For The Love Of The Lake, and also to the Stevens Park neighborhood in Oak Cliff.  The following week, on November 16, finds us with returning customers in the M Streets and in Wynnewood Heights near Highway 67 and Kiest.  We'll close out before the holiday on November 22 with another event with the Texas Trees Foundation and the Elmwood neighborhood.   In between, and for the winter months following, we'll have many more deliveries on the agenda.  We expect a busy season.

I'll have more information soon on all of our planting locations coming up. As always, the Dallas area Citizen Foresters will be coming out to lend a hand and help educate homeowners on how to properly prepare for and to install their new trees. I'd like to thank the Urban Forest Advisory Committee for its full support and leadership in reaching out to the communities and making them aware of the program. This program has also taken off with the great support and efforts of our excellent City Forester, Karen Woodard.  It wouldn't be the program it is without her.

Frodo wouldn't have gotten far without Sam.  - Frodo, The Two Towers (LOTR)

Me, on the right, in April at the end of the season.

Friday, September 20, 2013

A Man Chasing His Hat

This is mostly for all my past readers, but please continue on to understand my position on this blog.

It's difficult to know where to begin. So, I'll just start.  When I recently closed my previous Dallas Trees blog which I had been writing since 2007, I determined there was nothing to accomplish by keeping it open, and it was also causing me some irritation on some levels.  I don't need to go into details.  Essentially, my readership was limited to a few dedicated friends, and followers, and people from around the planet searching for random topics they picked up on a search engine. I imagine my future with this version of the blog will mirror much the same.  Actually, the readership levels really didn't matter to me since I wrote because it felt good to allow my brain to drain on to the digital white board once in a while. That people got something out of it was just a cherry on top of the dessert.

I've been distracted way too much and got lazy to the point where I just lost focus. I also began to become cautious to repercussions from what I wrote, even though I made it clear on the blog that my comments here had nothing to do with my position as a Chief Arborist in a major American municipalilty, and it should have no bearing on those around me.  Unfortunately, you learn when you are in certain positions, your First Amendment rights get limited, usually by self-editing.  No, they're not necessarily limited by the employer or even by those you deem as possible threats to you, but more by your own fears and self-doubts - and weaknesses.  As much as I hear about people demanding their unlimited rights as Americans, I know first hand that there are responsibilities that come with those rights as much as you can enjoy the privileges of holding them.  It's not until you have to limit yourself, and know to limit yourself as a matter of respect and responsibility to those you owe your allegiance, that you really understand that a right is to be taken seriously.  But there again, I had reached the point where Tom Reagan, from the Coen Brother's great film Miller's Crossing, reminded me "there's nothing more foolish than a man chasing his hat."  My hat was blowing down the street and I was running after it until I just didn't care anymore.  I stopped, sat on the curb, and looked at the world around me in frustration - without m' hat.

"There's nothing more foolish than a man chasing his hat."

I think I forgot myself.  I think the main thing I forgot was why I started the blog in the first place.  In 2007, I became a Chief Arborist.  I took this very seriously, just as much as I had taken my role as a city arborist up to then.  I have a responsibility to the citizens of the City of Dallas to provide my best service to them. I thought at the time that if I started this journal of my thoughts and topics related to the urban forest (and related issues) then I could provide some help to those people out there needing direction. But then I also used it as a launching point for versing more personal opinions on climate, politics, and other matters of interest.  It allowed me some outlet of creativity. Strangely, some people were enjoying it.

The real problem was trying to separate my professional position from my comments.  Actually, I managed that very well, though when you're in a particular position, some deviants will try to find anything to use against you. I decided to speak my mind on things so it became a necessity for people to understand that my personal views do not necessarily identify with the official view from the Chief Arborist.  A Chief Arborist has to live by given laws and regulations handed down to them by a City Council, a manager, and in my case, the Building Official.  That responsibility does not change and never will - and will not be a factor to posts in this blog. As a municipal arborist - a tree professional in municipal government - I am a bit more general in my thoughts, and my responsibility to the broader public is more universal.  As an ecologist, I am also thinking of the land ethic which has not yet made it into the directives of municipal government (or economics) in most places. We've taken strides in our concepts, some building standards, and some comprehensive plans, but the realities of human aggressive expansionism have not caught up with the progressive thinking of land sustainability and a sense of self-control. Self-regulation only works on people who respect life and the needs of others, in general and in its many forms. Here, too, we have improvement. Fortunately, many people (even in the development industry) are picking up on the nuances of land sustainability and trying to apply them to practice.  But many more in this country are not ready to limit the ability of an individual to have enormous negative impacts on the many as long as there's a profit to be had.  We're controlled by the market place and money. These are realities I - we - must contend with, and I have managed to control this fact within my conscience. The land (and all within it) will always suffer as long as we (as a population) control it with impunity. The best I can do is to try to buffer that impact through education and learning.  There is a vast wilderness of humans that need to be enlightened on how the planet is SUPPOSED to work.

So, I'm here as a municipal arborist. I've returned to start again. I've recovered m' hat. This will be an education page.  I will also verse opinions on concepts and practices that not everyone will like to hear, but I will speak on them from my voice of long, and yet limited, experience and training. I'll be learning much as well, including from professionals who may have other opinions on a particular topic. There are sciences to urban forestry that have been long neglected by many decision-makers, but this comes more from lack of understanding, a lack of respect, and the threat these ideas may have on economic expansion.  I am here to put a light on those things that need to be discussed in the public forum.  It's my job - as a municipal arborist - to help you be the best stewards of the part of the urban forest you manage.  I hope as my hat keeps getting lopped off my head, you'll help me keep up with it. 

But, really.  I need a real hat.  A cool one. My hair line demands it.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Coming Soon....Just Not In Three Minutes.....

Go to the bathroom, get your popcorn, or whatever.  It's the longest three minutes of your life so fill it with something more than this.  Get ready for the new Dallas Trees.  Well, new-ish.