Community Trees

Jack in 560 year old Limber Pine tree 7/27/16 Courtesy & Copyright Hilary Shughart
Jack in 560 year old Limber Pine tree 7/27/16
Courtesy & Copyright Hilary Shughart

Jack and Darren McAvoy measuring the champion Engelmann Spruce at Tony Grove Lake. Jack has identified this tree as a close contender for the state Champion listing Courtesy & Copyright Hilary Shughart, Photographer Jack and Darren McAvoy measuring the champion Engelmann Spruce at Tony Grove Lake.
Jack has identified this tree as a close contender for the state Champion listing
Courtesy & Copyright Hilary Shughart, Photographer

Urban Trees Courtesy and Copyright Ron Hellstern, Photographer Urban Trees
Courtesy and Copyright Ron Hellstern, Photographer

“I think that I shall never see a poem lovely as a tree” Joyce Kilmore. I’m a forest person, my psyche deeply rooted in the forests of northern Wisconsin from my toddler days forward. Now as an octogenarian tree committee chair for Smithfield, Utah, trees have once again invaded my mental space and I feel the mychorrhizal fungi creeping back into my roots.

Arbor Day has come and gone a wonderful opportunity to celebrate these magnificent, towering relatives. As a biology teacher, I would have my students form a circle with each student offering a different benefit we receive from trees. Without any repetition, they never disappointed, each voicing another arboreal gift.

Every dollar spent on planting and caring for a community tree yields benefits that are two to five times the investment. The benefits urban forests provide include jobs, higher property values, improved physical and mental health, pollution mitigation, heat mitigation, lower energy bills, safer streets, flood protection, and biodiversity. Trees connect communities, cultures, and generations. Neighborhood trees have shown the ability to reduce stress, improve overall health and development in children, and encourage physical activity.

Climate change is arguably the greatest challenge facing the health of our planet, which is our health. While it will take many solutions working together to make a difference, trees are the proven, affordable, natural way that can be implemented quickly to pull carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. Every tree planted is a step in the right direction.

One of the biggest line items in the Inflation Reduction Act’s forestry budget goes to urban forests: $1.5 billion has been appropriated for the Urban and Community Forest Assistance program, which provides technical and financial help to local communities so they can plant and maintain urban trees, educate citizens about tree care, and train tree workers.

“Access to urban green space and trees do a lot of wonderful things for people,” says Rachel Holmes, urban forestry strategist for the Nature Conservancy and co-chair for the Sustainable Urban Forest Coalition. Study after study validates the benefits of urban tree cover: Views of trees outside classroom and office windows can positively influence kids’ test scores and behavior, office workers report significantly less stress and more satisfaction; greener neighborhoods experience less crime.

An excellent resource for all things trees- selecting best tree for your landscape, planting, pruning, watering, mulching, is the Arbor Day website- Smithfield has the high honor of holding the title “Tree City, USA”. Does your city? If not, the Arbor Day website has the criteria for attaining this esteemed title.

Are trees sentient beings- capable of thought and caring? May I suggest you read “Finding the Mother Tree- Discovering the Wisdom of the Forest” by Suzanne Simard for the answer.

Jack Greene for Bridgerland Audubon Society and I’m Wild About Utah trees!


Audio: Courtesy & © Kevin Colver,
Text: Jack Greene, Bridgerland Audubon,
Additional Reading: Lyle W Bingham, Webmaster, Bridgerland Audubon,

Additional Reading:

Jack Greene’s Postings on Wild About Utah,

Joyce Kilmer, Poetry Foundation,

Smithfield, Utah Tree Committee,

USDA Forest Service Urban & Community Forestry, Inflation Reduction Act, Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO), USDA Forest Service,

About Tree City USA, The Arbor Day Foundation,
Inflation Reduction Act News, UDSA News,

Kuhns, Michael, Mooter, Dave, Tree Planting Rules,

Tree Browser, USU Extension, Utah State University,

Poetry of the Forest

Poetry of the Forest: Fall Colors along the Nebo Loop between Payson, UT and HWY 132 between Nephi and Fountain Green. Courtesy USDA Forest Service
Fall Colors along the Nebo Loop between Payson, UT and HWY 132 between Nephi and Fountain Green.
Courtesy USDA Forest Service

There are people who can capture beautiful scenery by painting on canvas, using film photography, and with digital technology. And these forms of art can be visually stunning. But there is a unique perspective of visualizing when written words are read, allowing one’s mind to see not only the exterior of a scene, but the interior heart intended by the writer.

What memories does your mind recall as you listen to the words of these renowned authors about the poetry of the forest?

  • Robert Louis Stevenson – …it is not so much for its beauty that the forest makes a claim upon men’s hearts, as for that subtle something, that quality of the air, that emanation from the old trees, that so wonderfully changes and renews a weary spirit.
  • John Fowles – In some mysterious way woods have never seemed to me to be static things. In physical terms, I move through them, yet in metaphysical ones, they seem to move through me.
  • Walt Whitman – Why are there trees I never walk under but large and melodious thoughts descend upon me?
  • William Wordsworth – One impulse from a vernal wood may teach you more of man, of moral evil and of good, than all the sages can.
  • Marcel Proust – We have nothing to fear and a great deal to learn from trees, that vigorous and Pacific tribe which without stint produces strengthening essences for us, soothing balms, and in whose gracious company we spend so many cool, silent and intimate hours.
  • Washington Irving – As the leaves of trees are said to absorb all noxious qualities of the air, and to breathe forth a purer atmosphere, so it seems to me as if they drew from us all sordid and angry passions and breathed forth peace and philanthropy. There is a severe and settled majesty in woodland scenery that enters into the soul, and dilates and elevates it, and fills it with noble inclinations.
  • James Henry Leigh Hunt – They refresh the commonplaces of life, shed a harmony through the busy discord, and appeal to those first sources of emotion, which are associated with the remembrance of all that is young and innocent. They seem also to present us with a portion of the tranquility we think we are laboring for.
  • Harold Monro – One summer afternoon, you find some lonely trees. Persuade your mind to drowse. Then, as your eyelids close, and you still hover into those three stages of a darkening doze, this side the barrier of sleep,…..pause. In that last clear moment open quick your sight toward where the green is bright and thick. Be sure that everything you keep to dream with is made out of trees.

    Plantng a Tree Coutesy USDA Forest Service
    Plantng a Tree
    Coutesy USDA Forest Service
    *Lucy Larcom – He who plants a tree plants a hope.

  • Henry David Thoreau – In wildness is the preservation of the world. Silence alone is worthy to be heard.
  • English Proverb – He that plants trees loves others beside himself.

    Text: Excerpts from the book, “The Forest”, compiled by Michelle Lovric
    Images: Courtesy USDA Forest Service
    Collector & Reader: Ron Hellstern, Cache Valley Wildlife Association

    Additional Reading

    Lovric, Michelle, The Forest, A Celebration of Nature, In Word and Image,

    Poems about Trees, Academy of American Poets,

    Search for Poems about Trees, Poetry Foundation,

  • Capitol Reef

    Fruita and the Wingate Cliffs
    Capitol Reef National Park
    Photo Courtesy US NPS

    Capitol Reef National Park
    Photo Courtesy US NPS

    Early settlers to the landscape we know as Capitol Reef National Park in south-central Utah planted cherry, apricot, peach, pear, apple, and walnut trees as a cash crop for survival along the Fremont River bottoms. Visitors today are often surprised by the fruit trees in light of the surrounding desert climate, and campers can pick apples and peaches from their campsites in the orchards. But the green fields and fruit trees also attract deer, marmots, and other small critters, which are easy to spot and are comfortable with humans in their environment.

    Though the deer roam free in the tall grass between apple trees, there are other species that are a bit more dangerous lurking nearby. Mountain lions and black bears skillfully stalk around this historic district of Fruita without being seen. Mountain lions have been spotted within a half-mile of the popular campground, yet little is known about the species within the confines of Capitol Reef. With so many questions unanswered about the predator and prey relationship in the unique landscape, the park has received a Disney Nature Impact Grant to enlighten us.

    Lori Rome, the park’s chief of interpretation, says, “We are setting up 10-20 infrared motion detected camera traps in surrounding areas. This is a non-invasive way to learn basic information about the species.”

    The cameras will provide useful evidence and reveal the patterns of the quiet predators in the park. The public will be engaged through a citizen science project using social media and public interpretive programming, for example helping to survey deer populations.

    If you’ve seen Disney Nature’s movie Bears, you, too, helped contribute to the Disney Nature Impact Grants program. Fourteen national parks are receiving funding via proceeds from the movie. Disney Nature has pledged a contribution to the National park Foundation, the official charity of America’s national parks, through the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund, for each person who saw the film during its first week in theaters.

    This type of support helps preserve and protect Capitol Reef and the rest of the National Park System. The Disney Nature Impact Grant enables parks to conduct much-needed conservation projects, such as studying mountain lions at Capitol Reef.

    Each park selected to receive a grant through this program had to demonstrate a clear need for the money, and how it would make a profound difference in habitat restoration, wildlife protection or conservation research. With this assistance, we should be able understand predator’s actions in Capitol Reef National Park.

    For Wild About Utah and National Parks Traveler, I’m Kurt Repanshek.

    Image: Courtesy and Copyright Kurt Repanshek,
    Text:     Kurt Repanshek,

    Additional Reading:

    Capitol Reef And 13 Other National Parks Receive Impact Grants From Disney Nature’s Movie “Bears”, Submitted by Carli Jones, June 26, 2014, NationalParksTraveler.com

    Capital Reef National Park,

    Capital Reef National Park,

    Mammals in Capital Reef National Park,
    Amphibians in Capital Reef National Park,
    Fish in Capital Reef National Park,
    Birds in Capital Reef National Park,
    Reptiles in Capital Reef National Park,

    Great Basin Bristlecone Pines Utah’s Mountain Sentinels

    Bristlecone Pine
    Photo Courtesy & Copyright
    Mark Larese-Casanova, Photographer

    Bristlecone Pine Grain
    Compared to a Dime
    Photo Courtesy & Copyright
    Mark Larese-Casanova, Photographer

    Hi, this is Mark Larese-Casanova from the Utah Master Naturalist Program at Utah State University Extension.

    Utah’s cold mountaintops, like its hottest deserts, are rather inhospitable to most plants. Although more precipitation falls at higher elevations, colder temperatures prevent much of the water from being used by plants, since most of it falls as snow in winter. High winds also inhibit growth and can contribute to frost or wind damage to plants. Any plants that grow here must be especially hardy.

    The Great Basin bristlecone pine is a grand sentinel of our rocky, high mountain ridges. Its shorter needles are grouped in bundles of five, and grow densely at the end of the branches, creating a ‘bottlebrush’ or ‘foxtail’. However, the growth of the wood is the most interesting aspect of the Great Basin bristlecone pine. For a tree, each ring represents one year of growth. Because of the colder temperatures and shorter growing season, each growth ring of a bristlecone pine is particularly small, usually around 1/32th of an inch. The tight growth rings result in especially dense, resinous wood that is resistant to decay and insects.

    At higher elevations, a bristlecone pine’s growth form becomes more twisted and contorted by the wind. Over time, much of the tree may die, and the living portion may simply be a strip of bark up the trunk and just a few branches.

    These adaptations allow the Great Basin bristlecone pine to live an exceptionally long life despite such harsh conditions. It is common for a bristlecone pine to live for thousands of years, and the oldest recorded specimen was aged at approximately 5,000 years old. That means it germinated from seed a few hundred years before the first Egyptian pyramid was even built! Bristlecone pines can even remain standing for thousands of years after they die. Growth ring patterns can be compared between living and dead bristlecone pines to reveal a chronology of our climate for the past seven, eight, maybe ten thousand years!

    To see bristlecone pines in Utah, hike the Bristlecone Pine Trail in Bryce Canyon National Park or the Ramparts Trail at Cedar Breaks National Monument. Be sure to take only photos, and not wood or cones. Bristlecone pines will be around a lot longer than we will, and they could use all the help they can get.

    For Wild About Utah, I’m Mark Larese-Casanova.

    Images: Courtesy & Copyright Mark Larese-Casanova
    Text:     Mark Larese-Casanova, Utah Master Naturalist Program at Utah State University Extension.

    Additional Reading:

    Lanner, R.M. 2007. The Bristlecone Book: A Natural History of the World’s Oldest Trees. Mountain Press Publishing Company.

    Cohen, M. P. 1998. A Garden Of Bristlecones: Tales Of Change In The Great Basin. University of Nevada Press.