CLIFTON PARK, N.Y. — The Clifton Park GREEN Committee concluded a week-long series of Arbor Day activities last week by hosting a webinar filled with information and ideas about caring for those trees in your yard.

The GREEN Committee (Government Re-Thinking Energy & Environment Now) has been assisting and advising the town board on energy and environmental impacts and issues since 2007. It meets quarterly to promote broad energy awareness and consumer education and advocates for actions that residents can take to reduce the consumption of limited natural resources both now and in the future. 

The “Tree Care at Home” webinar on April 29 was held one day before Arbor Day, the last Friday each year in the month of April.

The program was hosted through the technical capabilities of the Clifton Park-Halfmoon Library and moderated by Library Assistant Director Jim Foster. Viewers and listeners to the program were treated to a wealth of information on the different species of trees, their care, their placement, and their predators from NYS Department of Environmental Conservation Supervising Forester Jeffrey Speich.

Speich, who is also a certified arborist, wants Clifton Park to become a Tree City USA as recognized by the Arbor Day Foundation.

The Tree City USA program is a nationwide movement that provides the framework necessary for communities to manage and expand their public trees and has been doing so across the U.S. since 1976. To get this status communities must meet four core standards of sound urban forestry management; maintain a tree board or a department, have a community tree ordinance, spend at least two dollars per capita on urban forestry, and celebrate Arbor Day each year.

Speich said there are 600,000 people in the Capital Region and just one community in the region has a professional tree care person on staff.

“I want communities to get their own tree care person or form tree committees,” he said.

As he dove into his slides Speich began by naming and then discussing what’s around that’s harmful to trees. He touched on the spotted lantern fly, the emerald ash borer, the gypsy moth, the hemlock woolly adelgid and oak wilt disease.  

As he moved on to the healthy trees one finds or plants in their yards he discussed thinking about the tree’s purpose on your lawn, selecting the right location, selecting the right species, planting it, and caring for it. He showed slides of where it was well done and where it was not.

“Ask yourself what kind of tree you want, does it belong there and what’s the reason you want it; do you want a fruit tree, a shade tree, privacy, a buffer, a street tree, or something for wildlife habitat,” he said. “You need to get the right tree in the right place.”

In showing slides of some catastrophes, Speich showed one of a huge deciduous street tree that had one side completely missing. The branches had all been removed to allow power lines to pass by.

“What was really unfortunate here was that just across the street was a vacant spot with a lot of sunlight and no wires at all,” he said.

When he began discussing tree planting techniques he noted the wet cool weather outside and said the day was a perfect one for planting.

“Spring or fall, look for a day that’s cool and wet,” he said.

As to pruning he advised that people prune after a tree flowers but before it buds new.

“Prune trees properly otherwise you can do real damage,” he said. “Pruning smaller branches forces more growth but may hamper health. Don’t get too close with lawn mowers or those string weed cutters and let’s stop with the volcano-style mulching.”

The Clifton Park GREEN Committee has received a grant to undertake a tree inventory of the town’s public areas.

“The grant we were awarded is designed to help us accomplish our goal of Clifton Park becoming a Tree City USA Community,” said Town Councilwoman Amy Standaert in a statement. “This program is designed to help cities and towns manage and expand trees within the community."

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