The Town Arborist

by Loose Leaf Contributor

This week’s 2013 ISA True Professional of Arboriculture is Jim McCready of Carleton Place, Ontario — ISA Certified Arborist, Registered Professional Forester, Owner of McCready Tree & Forestry Consulting and Program Forester for Tree Canada


Jim McCready

Credit: Jim McCready / ISA

Not long after a major ice storm hammered Eastern Ontario, Canada, in 1998, government funding became available to help communities repair extensive damage to trees. But Jim McCready recalls there was an obstacle for some of the smaller communities. They didn’t have the expertise to put together plans and apply for funding. So, McCready assisted these communities by doing the inventories and preparing the applications. The money to care for the urban canopies eventually came to the three small-town communities had taken under his wing.

“One of the communities was my hometown of Carleton Place,” McCready remembers. “It received more than $180,000 to trim, remove and plant trees to replace those that were lost. As a result of the trimming, far less was spent on future cleanup after major storms.”

Those who know him best say this is quintessential Jim McCready, an under-the-radar type of guy who gives an extraordinary amount to people and trees. He may be retired following 28 years with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, but McCready is still a registered professional forester and ISA Certified Arborist who shapes the landscape of Eastern Ontario through his many volunteer efforts. In Carleton Place, McCready is known as the “Town Arborist.”

“I call it ‘small-town Ontario,’ where these communities don’t have the trained staff in arboriculture or the funds to hire anyone,” McCready explains. “As a result, it falls on dedicated volunteers like me with the background to make sure the trees are properly cared for. I am qualified so I can contribute to the community when they ask for help.”

McCready’s interest in urban forestry began in the early 1970s as a student at the University of Toronto. He was enrolled in a “Faculty of Forestry” class, which offered more than just traditional logging and silviculture courses.

Jim McCready at work

Credit: Jim McCready / ISA

“At the time, Dr. Eric Jorgensen — a man who defined the term ‘urban forestry’ — was teaching classes at the university,” McCready recalls. “So over the four years, I took full advantage of what Eric Jorgensen offered. I was extremely interested in the management of individual trees and parks in the urban setting. Jorgensen’s classes were well-attended. He engaged us with the concept later called Urban Forestry.”

McCready is the president of the Eastern Ontario Model Forest and also chair of the Regional Forest Health Network, a committee of agencies and partners promoting a sustainable forest while trying to control invasive pest species. Predictably, emerald ash borer has been at the top of their agenda for the past five years.

“With EAB in Ottawa, we came up with an urban messaging strategy for other towns and cities in our area,” McCready explains. “With help from the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and the Eastern Ontario Model Forest, we’ve developed messaging for rural landowners on how to manage their woodlots.

Through continuing education and as a steadfast volunteer, McCready wants to ensure that anyone interested can learn more about trees. Even late in his career, McCready pursued his ISA Certification as an example to others that the achievement is well worth the effort.

“Small town Ontario is not aware of urban forestry or sound arboriculture practices. ISA’s message — the promotion of good arboriculture practices for urban trees and urban forestry across the landscape — is well known in the larger cities with forestry departments. No matter what the size of the community, we need to take time to guide small-town communities in the right direction.”—Jim McCready and ISA


Join us again next Monday as we wrap up our series on 2013’s True Professionals of Arboriculture with another arborist giving his time to mentor future tree care professionals.

Catch up with the True Professionals of 2013 featured throughout December:

Terrill Collier
Richard Herfurth
Scott Liudahl

Christmas Tree Diseases Hit Home

by American Forests

By Lisa Swann

Some of you may have brought a perfect, green Christmas tree home by now, but consider the fate of some Leyland cypress and Frasier firs that could not be sold this year.

Needle blight, which turns Leyland cypress trees’ needles brown, has been impacting many growers. After the needles turn brown, they fall off. Some farmers found they have fewer of their best-selling trees to sell this year.

Frasier fir with root rot.

Frasier fir with root rot. Credit: Linda Haugen, USDA Forest Service,

Jim Butler, owner of Homestead Christmas Tree Farm in Hampton, Ga., tells NPR in Atlanta, “It’s been going on now for quite a few years, and we’ve tried many things to control it. It’ll go away on its own, and anytime we have a wet summer it seems to come back.”

Very few of Butler’s trees got needle blight this year, but he says he knows some tree farms in Georgia that are completely brown. Rather than killing the tree, needle blight makes them unsellable.

Frasier firs are also having a problem with root rot (Phytophthora). The root rot also seems to be brought on by unusually large amounts of rain.

Each year, 30 to 35 million American families purchase a fresh, farm-grown Christmas tree. Some 7 million trees are harvested in Oregon and 3 million in North Carolina. John Frampton, a Christmas tree geneticist at North Carolina State University, tells ABC news, “The organism that causes this disease was introduced in the 1900s, we think, so it’s been with the industry ever since it started in North Carolina in the 1950s and 60s.”

The Associated Press reports that until root rot is contained, North Carolina famers could suffer Christmas tree losses of up to $6 million per year, while Oregon’s Christmas tree industry could lose up to $304 million per year.

To try to contain the disease, farmers are growing other fir species that are resistant to root rot. Geneticists like Frampton are grafting Frasier fir into the roots of a resistant fir species and conducting studies to locate the genes within Turkish fir that cause resistance with the hope that they could be transferred to the Frasier fir.

Many Christmas trees, including Frasier fir and Leyland cypress are still healthy, so for those belated in selecting a tree, rest assured you can still find one.


More on Christmas trees from Loose Leaf:

From Tinsel to Mulch — How to recycle your Christmas tree
O Christmas Tree! — Learn about the history of American Forests and the National Christmas Tree
Deck the Halls — Why live trees are usually the more environmentally friendly choice

Moose in the Mire: Part II

by Susan Laszewski

Yesterday I wrote about the alarming decline of moose populations in the Northeast, especially in Vermont and New Hampshire. There, though many factors may be at play, winter ticks seem to be a primary culprit.

But the Northeast is not alone in watching their moose populations decline. It’s been happening across North America, though the causes differ from area to area…or do they?

Moose and calf in British Columbia.

Moose and calf in British Columbia. Credit: Arthur Chapman

In British Columbia, a report from Wildlife Infometrics Inc commissioned by the provincial government has laid a lot of the blame for the declining moose population on another tiny terror: the mountain pine beetle. The current epidemic of these beetles throughout much of the Mountain West has decimated forests of whitebark and lodgepole pine. The loss of lodgepole forests in the Caribou Mountains has deprived moose of their vital forest cover leaving them more exposed to predators and unregulated hunting, while the clearing of much of the dead lodgepole has led to the creation of more logging roads, bringing even more unregulated hunting into the area.

But are these causes really so different? These ecosystems both have natural defenses against these little critters. The real culprit here is what lies behind the sudden inability of those defenses to keep up with these threats: climate change. While the winter tick in the Northeast is surviving at a higher rate due to a decrease in snow cover, the mountain pine beetle population is soaring out of control largely due to warmer winters.

In fact, the beetle is even populating areas that were previously too cold for it — high elevation whitebark pine forests in places like the Greater Yellowstone Area, where American Forests is working to combat it. We’ve been working with volunteers to attach pheromone patches to certain whitebark pine trees to repel the beetles.

The mountain pine beetle epidemic is affecting so many species in these areas, from grizzlies to Clark’s nutcrackers. Add moose to the list.

Moose in the Mire: Part I

by Susan Laszewski

The fur loss on this young moose on Mount Washington in New Hampshire could be a result of his efforts to rid himself of ticks. Credit: Ernie Mills Photography / Mt. Washington Auto Road.

In my home state of Vermont, moose sightings were a regular part of my childhood, but for today’s children they might be a rare treat. Just since 2005, the state’s moose population has nearly halved. Next door neighbor New Hampshire has seen their moose population decline by a third in recent years.

The most likely suspect? Winter ticks. The declines in moose seem to go hand in hand in with surges of the ticks. But what would cause the tick population to surge? Warmer winters, for one thing. The ticks die when they drop from their elaphine host onto the snow. But when the ground is bare, they live to reproduce. Moose are not social animals like deer; they lack the grooming practices to keep the ticks in check. And if you’ve ever had a pet with a tick, you know what a pain the little buggers can be. In their efforts to be rid of the pain and irritation of the ticks, moose often end up tearing out their own fur. That is, the fur that is one of their most important adaptations for the harsh winter climates they call home. The conclusion of this horrible chain of events is that the moose — that symbol of snowy, northern lands so well adapted to the cold — can actually die of hypothermia.

New Hampshire has already cut the number of moose hunting licenses in half in an effort to counterbalance the population decline. In the long term, though, one way to help combat these sad stories is to combat the rapid climate change that nature is unable to keep pace with. It’s one of the reasons American Forests works so hard to protect and restore forests, one of our planet’s important carbon sinks. Our Global ReLeaf projects in northern New England have included our Riparian Tree Planting in Vermont’s Green Mountain Forest, where we’re partnering with the U.S. Forest Service and local volunteers to plant 4,000 trees.

The northeast is not the only area suffering from a decline in moose populations. And while climate change is a driver of this decline across North America, its effects take many forms. Visit us here on Loose Leaf tomorrow to for Part II of what’s hurting moose in other parts of the continent.

Forestry and Philanthropy in Fargo

by Loose Leaf Contributor

This week, we’re inspired by True Professional of Arboriculture Scott Liudahl — ISA Board certified master arborist and city forester in Fargo, N.D. — who is working to better his community through urban forestry.

Scott Liudahl

Courtesy of Scott Liudahl and ISA

How did Scott Liudahl make the transition from assistant manager for McDonald’s Corporation near Minneapolis to a career in forestry? His experience with the fast-food giant taught him to be a leader, how to interact with people, and make connections — all of the qualities he uses today as a forester for the city of Fargo, N.D.

“I’ve always had a passion for forest management,” explains Liudahl. “Most people want to be outside and close to nature. I am no different than that. I moved from Minnesota to Colorado to go to college. The last semester of school I took an urban and community forestry class and just loved it.”

Liudahl worked several seasonal and full-time forestry jobs in Colorado and Utah before ending up in North Dakota. He never imagined he’d be practicing urban forestry on the plains, but he says there are unique challenges for him here, largely because of Fargo’s growth.

In Fargo, Liudahl leads a full-time forestry staff of 10 professionals. All are expected to be ISA Certified along with completing continuing education. As a responsibility to the citizens of the community, it’s important for workers to be engaged and up-to-date in the industry.

“When I was working for the state of Utah, I was encouraged to become ISA Certified,” recalls Liudahl. “I’ve done that and more since then. When I can share with a homeowner or have one of our staff interact with a property owner and know we are all credentialed, it carries a lot of weight.”

Among Liudahl’s past special projects are creating a partnership with schools and other local organizations in Fargo to work with at-risk teenagers. With so much arbor work to do in the summer months, Liudahl and his forestry staff were looking for a solution to expand ground operations during a time of year when they really needed help. 

“The young team members we were choosing for this had enormous challenges in their lives,” Liudahl says. “We wanted to try and provide a positive experience along with some basic tools to help them overcome these challenges, be successful and make a positive contribution to their community. Part of our plan called for these kids to plant, prune, water, mulch, and maintain trees in public areas for ten weeks in the summer.

Scott Liudahl

Courtesy of Scott Liudahl and ISA

“It was tough to manage at first. We needed to partner with other community professionals to help them develop skills that go beyond what they were expected to do for us as a forestry department, including building relationships, money management, and mentorship. Not all of these young people end up in forestry, but we do hear about some who, after working with us, decided they wanted to turn their life around and go on to school.”

With North Dakota’s rough winters, another major project for Liudahl involved creating living snow fences by planting shelter belt trees in various locations throughout the community.

“The winter of 1996 brought so much snow to one neighborhood near the city’s airport on the north side of Fargo that the emergency vehicles could not get into the neighborhood,” Liudahl recalls. “A windbreak was installed on the north side of the development to minimize snow impact. Fifteen years later, the shelter belt is maturing and functioning as intended.”

Liudahl says he is always looking for ways to improve and be more efficient as a person and a team. He is constantly engaging his staff and asking them to speak up if there is a better way to reach their goals.  Liudahl is proud of his accomplishments, but maintains that he is chiefly driven by the success and growth of those around him.

“When I look at the meaning of a True Professional, I think about our amazing staff and the wonderful members of our community. My role is trying to prepare future leaders and instill in them my passion and excitement. I hope once I am finished here, that passion will carry on.”—Scott Liudahl and ISA

If you’re just joining our 2013 True Professionals of Arboriculture series, check out Terrill Collier and Richard Herfurth and join us again next Monday.

It’s Not Easy Being Green

by American Forests

By Marcelene Sutter

Recycling was much more intuitive when common beverages, like milk, were served in glass bottles.

Recycling was much more intuitive when common beverages, like milk, were served in glass bottles. Credit: Sheran/Flickr

“Reduce, reuse, recycle.” It’s a familiar mantra, splashed across posters in elementary schools across the country. Recycling itself is not a new concept — archaeological digs have revealed that the practice may date back further than the Neanderthals. The reasons for recycling bottles are abundant and well-known: Recycling plastic bottles reduces carbon dioxide emissions from the bottle-making process and conserves space in landfills.

So why are Americans slacking off in terms of recycling? In a recent article in the Huffington Post, Bill Chameides of Duke University’s School of the Environment, writes that there are two main causes that could explain the lack of recycling: increases in single-use bottles and increases in consumption. Since the 1950s, beverages are increasingly sold in aluminum or plastic containers, instead of in glass bottles. When glass bottles were used for milk, recycling was vital to the transaction; if people did not put their bottles out for the milkman, they did not receive the product. These new materials make recycling less intuitive and this, coupled with skyrocketing bottled beverage consumption rates, has caused ad decline in recycling to become an issue.

Bottle bills provide monetary incentives for people to recycle their bottles.

Bottle bills provide monetary incentives for people to recycle their bottles. Credit: Vincent Brown

The solution to this problem seems to be offering incentives; the recent “Bottled Up” report released by the Container Recycling Institute reveals that the 11 states that offer bottle bill incentives, where people can receive cash back for recycling their bottles, account for nearly half of all recycling across the United States. Enacting this type of bill is often an uphill battle for states, which may face corporate opposition from bottling companies and beverage distributors.

If you feel strongly about the rising levels of landfills and the lack of recycling in the United States, there are several ways that you can help the environment, beyond simply recycling all of your bottles. Using reusable water bottles instead of single-use plastic bottles is a great start and, though it requires a bit more work, only purchasing beverages from pro-recycling bottling companies can send a strong message as well.

This is my last blog post as an American Forests intern, and I want to thank the Loose Leaf team for allowing me to write for the blog this semester. I have truly enjoyed exploring environmental current events, and have appreciated all of the thoughtful comments left by readers. Thank you for a great semester!

The Majestic Sugar Maple

by American Forests

By Lisa Swann

Sugar maple near the banks of the Mackinaw River - Money Creek Township; McLean County, Illinois

Sugar maple near the banks of the Mackinaw River – Money Creek Township; McLean County, Illinois. Credit: tlindenbaum/Flickr

The majestic sugar maple’s fall color finery is now at an end — but forest owners are looking forward to the next season: maple sugaring. The syrup you are devouring on your pancakes this holiday season is likely from the last sap run that happened in the spring.

The sugar maple is an amazing tree, from ample summer shade to brilliant fall colors to its ability to produce maple sugar sap, which is boiled down into syrup. Sugar maple (Acer saccharum) is common throughout New England, the Lake States, Mid-Atlantic states, and several Canadian provinces (note the sugar maple leaf on the Canadian flag).

Sugar maples can grow to heights in excess of 100 feet. The national champion sugar maple in New London, Conn., is 124 feet tall, with a diameter of 219 inches and a crown spread of 86 feet.  Most trees range in height from 70 to 90 feet and have diameters from two to three feet, and crowns from 60-80 feet. Most sugar maples regenerate naturally through seeds falling to the ground and wide sprouting. They are very prolific seed producers.

A sugar maple stand managed for the production of maple sugar is often referred to as a sugar bush. One of the most important characteristics for a maple sugar tree is a large crown open to sunlight and large stems, which mean high sap rates. In the early 1600s, European explorers witnessed American Indians drawing maple sap, and today maple sugaring is an important cash crop in the New England states.

The tree is also important as a hardwood timber species and was used by settlers to create common kitchen tools such as cheese pressers, rolling pins and apple grinders. Today, it is also popular for flooring, furniture, cabinets and woodenware, as well as basketball courts and baseball bats.

In late summer and fall, sugar maples stop growing and begin storing starches in the sapwood. These starches remain in “storage” until the temperature reaches 40 degrees.  When the temperatures warm in the spring, cells holding the starches change them into sugars and the sugar passes into sap. The warmer temperatures create pressure inside the tree and sap begins to flow. It takes 40 liters of maple sap — and hours of boiling down — to make one liter of maple syrup.

So when you enjoy maple syrup this winter, think about the sugar maple tree and the sweet season that is coming.

Learn more about threats facing the sugar maple and what you can do to help, so future generations can continue to enjoy the delicious taste of maple syrup.

Not Just Fungi and Games

by American Forests

By Marcelene Sutter

A forager finds a morel.

A forager finds a morel. Credit: Jasper Nance/Flickr

Foraging for food has become a widespread facet of foodie culture over the past few years, with classes and online guides giving rise to unprecedented numbers of forest visitors in search of fresh mushrooms. Nationwide, chefs and foodies alike seek the unique taste of the wild mushroom, inspiring them to take a trip to their local forests and raising concerns among park rangers.

Mushroom foraging is becoming increasingly trendy in California, where it is illegal in most state and national parks, Salt Point State Park being a notable exception. Although this type of collecting is legal in the park, the use of rakes and shovels to hunt for fungi is not, and visitors who illegally use these tools disturb the forest floor. Visitors have been making their presence known in other ways too; in an interview with NPR, Ranger Todd Farcau describes the trash left behind by fungi-seeking tourists as looking “like a rock festival has passed through.”  Although strict regulations are in place in the park, they are not always followed by visitors, who flock to the forest in foraging tour groups that can cost up to $90 per person.


Porcini. Credit: Mike Kempenich

While eating fresh foods is a healthful and delicious initiative, Salt Point is taking a hit because it is one of the few parks that allows this activity. Visitors converge on the forest, seeking the delicious fungi and often disobey the five pound per day limit, exacerbating the problem. Regular Salt Point mushroom hunting tour leader Patrick Hamilton feels that the solution to the problem is not to prohibit mushroom gathering all together, but rather to open more areas where foraging is allowed, to ease some of the burden on Salt Point State Park. In his words, “If they would just open up all the parks to hunting, you wouldn’t even notice us.”

An Honorable Man

by Loose Leaf Contributor

Continuing our series highlighting the International Society of Arboriculture’s True Professionals of 2013, Meet Richard Herfurth of Lyndeborough, N.H. — a man whose integrity and commitment to safety has inspired both colleagues and students. Herfurth is a Board Certified Master Arborist, Certified Tree Worker, Certified Treecare Safety Professional, Tree Risk Assessment Qualified Safety and Training Coordinator at Bartlett Tree Experts.


Richard Herfurth

Richard Herfurth

For Richard Herfurth, choosing a career was a simple decision.

“I threw a dart at arboriculture,” Herfurth recalls. “It was something that got me outdoors and I knew it was something I could do.”

After receiving a bachelor’s degree from the University of Massachusetts (U-Mass) at Amherst and an associate degree from the Stockbridge School of Agriculture — the only place that taught commercial tree care — Herfurth went on to work for Bartlett Tree Experts.

“When he graduated from school, Rich could have gone anywhere,” says Dr. Dennis Ryan, a fellow U-Mass alumus and friend. “I’ve been in the business for 50 years and Rich is without question one of the best field arborists I have ever known. He can do anything.”

In his job as safety and training coordinator for Bartlett’s New England Division, Herfurth teaches all aspects of safety and arboriculture to every employee — whether in management or production, working with thousands of tree care consumers in the U.S. and Canada.

He regularly conducts safety and training field labs and promotes the industry to aspiring students at the University of Rhode Island and U-Mass at Amherst. He oversees the internship program in the New England region, exposing students to as many field skills and experiences as possible and checks on them over the course of the summer to ensure they’re learning proper techniques.

“I think what we do is dangerous and knowing how to do it correctly and paying attention to those best management practices is what keeps us safe,” Herfurth maintains. “I believe that good training is good safety. Some people are not aware because they’ve never been shown the correct way.”

 Among his special project initiatives, Herfurth has been instrumental in maximizing production during several Asian longhorned beetle trunk injection contracts in Massachusetts. One job involved the injection of more than 200,000 trees in Worcester.

Recently, one of his more challenging tasks involved the transplanting of a large tree to make way for reconstruction on a college campus.

Richard Herfurth

Richard Herfurth

“The Camperdown elm was 36 inches in diameter,” Herfurth explains. “To transplant something this large is unusual because we don’t do this every day. We only had to move it 100 feet, but first had to remove soil using air tools to reduce the weight so we could pick it up. It took us four days of preparation and four more days to put the 61,000 pound tree back in the ground. It was like intensive care.”

A past-president, treasurer, secretary and currently certification liaison for ISA’s New England Chapter, Herfurth is considered by many to be one of the most dedicated professional members. If there is a problem, he will find a solution. “Rich was like my right arm at ISA,” recalls Dr. Ryan. “You never need to ask him a second time. If he says he will take care of it, it’s going to be done and done right.”

“We’ve judged jamborees together for some 30 years in New England,” says Dr. Ryan. He’s asked to judge because he’s extremely fair and honest. He’s one of the most honorable people I’ve ever met in my life.”

Paul Fletcher, Herfurth’s colleague at Bartlett, describes the respectful and appreciative person he is: He is an honorable man, selfless in his approach to everything he does. Herfurth is humble about his accomplishments, but certainly fits the description of what he believes it means to be a True Professional.

“You must have honor to do the right thing when nobody is looking. It’s necessary to have courage that includes mental, physical and ethical strength. And there has to be a firm commitment — one of desire, dedication, and faithfulness to the cause.”— ISA and Richard Herfurth

Join us again next Monday, and every Monday in December, as we feature another of 2013’s True Professionals of Arboriculture. If you missed last week’s, read about True Professional and second-generation arborist Terrill Collier.

Green For Your Green

by Loose Leaf Contributor
holiday gifts

Credit: Chiot’s Run/Flickr

Each year, many of us spend hours trying to find that “perfect” gift for family, friends and coworkers … only to throw our hands up in frustration and settle for gift cards instead. This holiday season, why not make it a special one by giving the gift of trees!

For those on your list who want something more tangible to unwrap, consider supporting our planet by checking out some of American Forests’ partners who each give a little bit back when you shop:

Eddie Bauer: Since 1995, this company has asked customers to consider adding a dollar to their checkout total to plant trees with American Forests. To date, more than 5 million trees have been planted as a result. Make sure you select the “add a dollar to plant a tree” option at the checkout to help us plant 5 million more!

Origins: All-natural skincare products that help plant trees might sound too good to be true, but Origins’ Plant-A-Tree initiative with us has helped plant more than 265,000 trees worldwide. A good option for the family member who wants to look good and do good, too.

Reveal: This partner offers a selection of nature-friendly cellphone & kindle cases as well as bags, all beautifully designed and made from sustainable and recycled materials. What’s more, this company also plants trees with American Forests, so your gift helps us give back to the earth.

American Forests staff with new "One S'well, One Tree" bottles.

American Forests staff with new “One S’well, One Tree” bottles.

S’well: A newer partner of American Forests, S’well’s water bottles are made from non-leaching and non-toxic stainless steel that will keep cold drinks cold and hot drinks hot. With the sale of each American Forests bottle, the organization will plant one tree.

Uncommongoods: A cornucopia of useful items, gifts that wow and nature-inspired products. This site not only offers gifts that are unique, but it also allows customers to select a charity to receive $1 upon checkout — we hope you’ll pick us!

WeWood: Originating in Florence, Italy, these eco-chic fashion watches were introduced to the United States in 2010. Made from repurposed wood, they can be found in both men’s and women’s styles. Each watch sold plants a tree with American Forests.