Darts team’s tree-lovin’ philanthropy hits a bull’s-eye

by Alex Gabriel, Communications & Development Intern

A blaring beat accompanied by a sultry singer in a room full of men holding strong margaritas and brandishing sharp objects is an atypical setting for a philanthropy event – the likes of which probably wouldn’t garner attendants of the Kennedy Center Honors or Robin Hood foundation benefit.  But at the Stonewall Sports League mixer, these men boast philanthropy, donating over $13,0001 to charities this season alone (and we’re grateful to them for it).

The Stonewall Sports League emerged to satisfy the niche of sports enthusiasts in the LGBT community, providing a welcoming space for people to play on any team they wish from boccie, darts, dodge ball and their most popular sport: kickball, which has expanded far beyond the borders of D.C. into Raleigh, Chicago, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.  At the core of the organization exists an altruistic heart – aspiring to amend social strife. Each team chooses a charity to which they’ll donate their winnings, a generous virtue.

But among the Stonewall Darts League’s many virtues, prudence is not one, preferring innuendos and puns with names like Darty Dancing, Dart Vader, Who Darted and our sponsoring team, Prick Tease.

The group consists of six men who have been playing darts together for years and whose love for the environment propelled them towards Casey Trees.  As team member, Grant states “I heard about Casey Trees from a friend… I kept seeing your logo in green spaces around the city. My granola-loving self couldn’t get enough!” From there he volunteered at a tree planting event, and that experience led the darts team to sponsor Casey Trees.  And fortunately, Prick Tease has remained on top: winning game after game, conquering their division and amassing more funds!

But bull’s-eyes are not the only way to raise money; being good looking helps too.  In fact, the darts league raffles dates with select team members and our attractive sponsors earned second place in the date raffle! These funds will also go to support our tree planting efforts throughout the District.

To top it all off, Prick Tease recently placed fourth in the championship games, giving a total of $2,600 to Casey Trees – in addition to the oversized novelty check and a round of drinks.  So cheers to Prick Tease in their next season and for all their charity work!

We’re so grateful!

We’re hosting a WEBINAR — “DC PLUG: Burying Lines, Raising Questions”


As part of a $1 billion proposal by the city government entitled DC PLUG, the District and Pepco are looking to bury the worst-performing power lines in the city. An exciting vision, but there is one thing worth considering – if the city buries the wires in the sidewalk, approximately 8,693 neighborhood street trees will be impacted.

That’s why we’re hosting a 30 minute webinar to educate you, the average resident (community organizer, neighbor, energy consumer, concerned citizen, etc.) on the details and provide you with a few tools to speak out about this issue at the last public hearing on this before the Public Service Commission on September 9.

What we’re talking about September 3rd:

  • Why the city refuses to bury all of the overhead wires
  • Which lines will be buried and which will remain aboveground
  • The benefits and risks to trees of undergrounding power lines
  • What you can do to help save thousands of trees

Bring your questions and we will answer them live during the webinar! Our speakers include (from our staff): Maisie Hughes, Director of Planning + Design; Emily Oaksford, Planning Associate; Suraj K. Sazawal, Advocacy Associate.

Details: Wednesday, September 3 — starts at 12 p.m. EST — REGISTER!

 Info on how to access the webinar:

1. Go to: https://global.gotomeeting.com/meeting/join/439243357
2. Call in using your phone: (872) 240-3312  or use your microphone and speakers (VoIP)
3. Enter the Access Code: 439-243-357
4. Enter the Audio PIN: You will see the PIN after you join the meeting
5. You’re all set- say hello!

Suraj Sazawal tackles bucket lists, the Greek Deli and his childhood crab-apple

We’ve been growing at break-neck pace around here, and we don’t just mean adding people – we’re talking about adding capacity, and finding more expansive ways for us to aid the District’s canopy. One step has been to bulk up on the advocacy front, knowing full and well that with the rising amount of concrete being poured in D.C. that opportunities for trees are being lost. The man tasked with jump starting all this and more? Suraj Sazawal, front and center:

CT: Suraj! Give us some background: who are you and where are you from?

Born and raised near Pittsburgh, I have been living in the D.C. area since my high school graduation. In fact, I left mid-graduation ceremony after I was handed my diploma, so I could be in D.C. in time for my sister’s wedding the next day.

CT: Aww, well welcome to the CT family! What led you to join forces with our team here?

Never wanting to work with lawyers again. I mean, a desire to work with people who enjoy what they do.

CT: Ha, well played. Elaborate on your connections to the District – have you found a favorite shady spot yet?

Having worked in many District neighborhoods – Dupont, Capitol Hill, K Street, and now Brookland – I know the city offers many great hideaways to escape from the daily bustle. From Meridian Park to all the green space surrounding the Capital building, I prefer spots that don’t attract a crowd. I also like the big parks because they offer a different experience each time I visit.

CT: What about a favorite eatery?

Choosing a favorite place to eat in D.C. is not easy. But one place I never had a bad meal at is the Greek Deli. Sure, there is a long line out the door every day at lunchtime and the owner/head chef may yell at you for ordering wrong (à la the soup nazi from Seinfeld). But if you don’t mind getting berated for a tasty lamb gyro, it’s worth it.

CT: Did you have an interest in trees or the environment before joining us?

Growing up, my two older sisters and I all claimed one of the trees in the yard as our own. My oldest sister got the dogwood, the other took a maple, and I got the crab apple. They used to laugh at me and my much-maligned crab apple, but I liked it because it was the only tree with fruit. More recently, I am really into reusing. I try to buy most things used or reclaimed, including most of my furniture, plant and vegetable planters, and classic board games for my nieces and nephews.

CT: Give us one item off your Bucket List. Anything.

My advice to you? Never have a bucket list.

CT: An airline has a computing error and you find yourself with unlimited frequent flier miles. Where do you go?

There are so many places I want to travel! My first destination would be to hike along the trails leading up to the ruins of Machu Picchu. Indonesia and Alaska are other destinations high on my list.

Treelines: Week of August 18, 2014

Because urban forestry issues span a wide range of topics and are constantly a source of local, national, and international news, we think it’s important to provide you with the most up-to-date information on everything tree-related: from local and national headlines to the latest in research and technologies, to simply feel-good stories.

Look for our reoccurring Treelines every week right here on Tree Speak + updates on our social channels, Facebook and Twitter.

This week in the Treelines…

  • Call the paparazzi, it’s Wikipedia’s list of famous trees
    by Mike Vago, the A.V. Club

    “Trees across the world have risen to fame for one reason or another—some because of their size or age, some because they mark the site of some historic event—and naturally, Wikipedia is there to list them.”

  • Back-to-back world titles for Kiwi tree climber
    via ONE News

    “‘A Kiwi arborist has retained his world championship at the International Tree Climbing Competition in Milwaukee, United States. Scott Forrest, who is also the current Asia Pacific Champion, was joined by compatriots James Kilpatrick who came fourth, and Nicky Ward-Allen (current New Zealand women’s champion) who took out third place in the women’s competition.”

  • New analysis links tree height to climate
    by David Tenenbaum, Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies

    “Both factors — resource allocation and hydraulic limitation — might play a role, and a scientific debate has arisen as to which factor (or what combination) actually sets maximum tree height, and how their relative importance varies in different parts of the world.”

  • Study reveals effect of habitat fragmentation on forest carbon cycle
    by Phys.Org, via University of Exeter

    “Drier conditions at the edges of forest patches slow down the decay of dead wood and significantly alter the cycling of carbon and nutrients in woodland ecosystems, according to a new study.”

  • Aspen trees disappearing in eastern Idaho, elsewhere
    by the Associated Press, via Oregon Press

    “Aspen — the most widespread tree in North America — are disappearing across the western United States. Eastern Idaho’s aspen community, once estimated to cover 40 percent of eastern Idaho’s forested areas, has declined by an estimated 60 percent in the past 100 years, while Arizona has seen a 90 percent decline during that time.”

Don’t forget to check back next week for more Treelines! Any thoughts on these articles? Post your comments or questions below or via our social media channels - Facebook.. Twitter.. thanks!

Humble intern blown away by ambitious, driven Summer Crew

by Luke Foley, Communications intern

A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of riding along with Casey Trees’ famed Summer Crew and Water By-Cycle team, getting a chance to witness firsthand the valuable work they are doing for the District and its trees. My particular group consisted of myself, 18 year old group leader Rob, 17 year old Anthony and 18 year old Brianna. Together our merry band succeeded in providing nourishment via bicycle to dozens of trees at three different locations around northeast D.C., in the process overcoming one perpetually flat tire, two misbehaving fire hydrants and the brutal heat of the District’s summer.

However, these obstacles proved to by no means be the most notable developments of the day. As it turns out, Summer Crew is not merely some scraped together gang of labor minions, but are in fact budding environmental enthusiasts with qualifications one would expect to find on the resume of a Capitol Hill intern. Learning about these kids’ backgrounds gave me an entirely new perception of Summer Crew and its function – I previously thought it existed to care for local trees and support high school kids looking to make some money in a healthy and helpful way, but that proved to be an enormous understatement. What I came to realize is that the program is taking it a step further and providing passionate, environmentally focused students with a hands-on outlet for their interest in environmental conservation and innovation.

Both Brianna and Anthony have considerable non-profit experience, while Rob is a voluntarily-returning member from last summer’s Crew. Having interned at the YMCA corporate offices last summer, Anthony now “has a feel for non-profit management” and says he hopes to use the experience to become part of the solution to the environmental issues plaguing the earth. Meanwhile, Brianna has spent the past year doing advocacy work for Groundwork Anacostia, speaking to D.C. youths about the restoration being done to make the Anacostia “a feasible source of recreation and clean water.” All three are majoring in Environmental Studies at their respective colleges and said they consider environmentalism to be the most pressing issue facing their generation.

Now, I would never claim to be a model or any sort of gauge for professional success, but I do happen to be at least two years older than all three, and until now, I had never spent my summer being anything more than a lifeguard or camp counselor. Worthwhile pursuits, okay, but ones that pale in comparison to those of Rob, Anthony, and Brianna. Upon learning of these prodigies’ impressive backgrounds, one might be tempted to ask – as I was – why they chose to spend their summers biking around the city’s humid streets. All three pointed to the exercise, with Rob telling me he believes the job teaches him a lot of the practical skills that a more professionally oriented (office) position could not. “Plus, you get to see the city,” he added.

Clearly, Summer Crew does not simply consist of teenagers out to make a buck; rather, it’s a group of young, talented and driven individuals looking to affect real change in a field they are genuinely passionate about, while also insuring that they themselves develop into well-rounded adults. I honestly walked away from my ride-along believing I’d met three candidates for future Administrator of the EPA or Director of Greenpeace.

Education intern reflects on a summer of fun

by William Green, Communications Intern

While our staff is heroic and superhuman, Casey Trees couldn’t do what it does each summer without the help of interns. We sat down with Dahneé Gore in the education department to see what she’s been up to and makes her tick.

CT: What’s your background? Are you a DC native?

DG: Yeah, grew up in D.C., born and raised. I moved to Maryland in 2001. I lived in Upper Marlboro suburbs for 7 years. I was still going to D.C. high school, though. So, we moved back to D.C. November of last year. I’ve lived in the DM of the DMV area. I can’t say V, though.

CT: Where are you in school?

DG: I’m a rising senior at Washington Latin [Public Charter School]. It’s by Fort Totten station.

CT: How did you hear about Casey Trees?

DG: My college counselor, she emailed everybody and was like, “Casey Trees has a Summer Crew.” That’s what I originally applied for, and then Michael Ferguson handed me off to the education department.

CT: What’s been your favorite part about working in the education department?

DG: The kids! Oh man, I love children. I mean on some days, it’s like, “I’m glad you’re not my child.” But on the others, it’s really fun just being surrounded with good people. Priscilla and Kelsey are good people.

CT: Do you have one experience from this summer that stands out?

DG: Yea, when Priscilla told a joke. That is like the reoccurring memory of the day. Priscilla tells a joke, and a kid is like laughing hysterically, saying, “Oh, you’re so silly! Trees don’t have mouths.” And he was like, “She’s a comedian.” That was a really happy moment, so funny.

CT: Since this is summer, what’s your dream summer vacation?

DG: I’ll keep it PG. My dream summer vacation is to go to Brazil to visit my Aunt, to go to San Pedro. And to be there for the world cup! I’m a big sports fan.

Treelines: Week of August 11, 2014

Because urban forestry issues span a wide range of topics and are constantly a source of local, national, and international news, we think it’s important to provide you with the most up-to-date information on everything tree-related: from local and national headlines to the latest in research and technologies, to simply feel-good stories.

Look for our reoccurring Treelines every week right here on Tree Speak + updates on our social channels, Facebook and Twitter.

This week in the Treelines…

  • Plan to sell burned California trees sends sparks flying
    by Sharon Bernstein, Reuters via Yahoo! News

    “Fire officials say the tree removal, to be paid for by the sale of the scorched trees, will help thin the forest to make future blazes less intense while providing jobs for loggers and protecting the public. But environmentalists worry that the Forest Service, eager for money from the sale of the salvaged trees, will remove too much precious habitat.”

  • Massive tree-chopping begins in Hawaii to thwart rhino beetle
    by Catherine Cruz,  KITV4 ABC News

    “‘Agriculture officials have identified the first 100 trees that have to go. They’re infested with the mighty rhino beetle— a dreaded pest known to do serious damage. The process is painstaking. Trunks are cut down to a foot and a half and all the fronds with the tell tail v shape have to be disposed of properly or they can spread the pest around.”

  • Drought could reverse drop in bark beetle numbers
    by Jeff DeLong, RGJ

    “The amount of Nevada forest under assault from bark beetles and similar bugs dropped significantly last year, a promising trend experts said could be reversed in a big way should the current drought continue much longer.”

  • Local tree owners gaining ground on sawflies
    by Scott Harrison, KRDO.com

    “The recent invasion of the pine sawfly hasn’t been good for owners of ponderosa pine trees but it has been good for pest control businesses kept busy by the demand for service calls. Brendan Shank of Bug-Free Tree & Shrub Spraying in Security said he has responded to 20 calls daily for the past three weeks. “I’ve been doing this since 1992 and we’ve never had an infestation like this before,” he said.”

  • A fascinating glimpse into the tree of life
    by Mayank Vahia, DNA

    “How does a tree grow? There is of course a detailed biological explanation of how this happens. But let us look at it from another perspective.”

Don’t forget to check back next week for more Treelines! Any thoughts on these articles? Post your comments or questions below or via our social media channels - Facebook.. Twitter.. thanks!

Tree of the Month: Norway maple

co-written by Stephanie Juchs & Dr. Jessica Sanders

It’s a story all too common in American cities. A tree imported from elsewhere seems to take the rigors of urban life well, cities sing its praises and plant it widely, then said tree gets a little too comfortable and starts out-competing native species and cities have to declare the species invasive.

The tale of the Norway maple, Acer platanoides, is not much different than other non-native species that have come before or since. Once revered as the ultimate street tree that could withstand the abuses of the urban environment and quickly grew and shaded many of America’s city streets that lost their canopy to Dutch elm disease in the middle of the 20th century, the Norway maple is now classified by the United States Forest Service as highly invasive in our region.

Native to much of Europe, from Norway to the Caucasus region as well as western Asia, the Norway maple is now found throughout the northeast United States and the pacific northwest. Introduced in 1756 by botanist John Bartram he received seedlings from London then promptly went about selling the successful species (even supplying two Norway maples to George Washington to be planted at Mount Vernon in 1772). The early success of the Norway maple led to the creation of numerous cultivars to fit both aesthetic and biological challenges. With the need for fast-growing shade trees when Dutch elm disease decimated cities’ tree canopies during the 1930s and 1940s, the Norway maple and its various cultivars grew to become (what some estimate) the most frequently planted and occurring street tree in the United States. Now in many eastern cities, the “Crimson King” cultivar’s purple-red leaves or the “Parkway” cultivar ‘s resistance to verticillium wilt, in addition to many others, provide the shade for many city blocks.

Fast-growing Norway maples quickly form a dense canopy and tolerate many adverse conditions which made them successful in cities as well as potential invaders. Norway maples can withstand a variety of environments and tolerate high winds, frost and air pollution, as well as a wide range of soil acidity. They cope well with the typical street tree environment which can include heat, drought, salt spray and poor drainage. Prolific seed production and shallow surface roots also allow the Norway maple to out-compete natives (which is why you’ll often see sparse vegetation in Norway maple tree boxes).  However, the Norway maple’s tenacity and toughness does not make it immune to the serious threat posed to it and many other tree species by the Asian Longhorned Beetle. This non-native invasive pest prefers the maple genus as a host (along with several other genera) and doesn’t seem to discriminate against the native and non-native species found in the United States.

Even with its tolerance for urban life, the Norway maple was never a true substitute for its beloved look-alike, the native sugar maple. The sugar maple, which provides the primary source of maple syrup and the distinctive fall color seen in New England, should not be easily confused for its non-native counterpart. The interlacing furrowed bark of the Norway maple looks very different from the distinctive plated bark seen on the sugar maple and the samaras (or “helicopters,” as children often refer to them) on the non-native Norway maple are attached at a wide-angle with more flattened fruits when compared with the U-shaped attachment and bulkier fruits of the sugar maple. While both maples are oppositely arranged with 5-lobed leaves, the Norway maple has more distinct points and teeth than the sugar maple and it’s the leaves that provide the real clincher when trying to differentiate between the two. When squeezing the petiole (leaf stem) of a leaf, if milky white sap oozes out you’re looking at a Norway maple versus the sugar maple, which will exude a clear liquid, if anything at all. Both Norway maple and sugar maple are planted in D.C. and provide a good test for those testing their tree identification skills.

Filling a need for our canopy at the time when the District desperately needed it, the Norway maple was planted along many of Washington’s streets when Dutch elm disease swept through the city. However, time would show that their aggressive growing habits and prolific seeds would be undesirable and eventually classify them as an invasive plant.  While the city stopped planting Norway maples more than 10 years ago, they still exist in the current canopy as seen on the map below.  If we were to remove the city’s population of Norway maples today, we would decimate a large portion of the city’s canopy.  Every year, Norway maples planted in between the curb and sidewalk are strategically removed and replanted with a more desirable non-invasive tree.

For D.C. residents, since the Norway maple is now recognized as posing an environmental threat, its removal does not require replacement under the District Urban Forest Preservation Act and the Norway maple is not eligible for any of our residential planting programs. For more information about invasive species that threaten the District’s tree canopy and how to control these species, consider attending one of our non-native invasive removal workshops held in the spring or summer.

View map in full.

For more about many other species, check out our profiles on our Tree Species resource.