The Fun of Volunteering with TreeUtah!

Our volunteers are the heartwood of TreeUtah’s ability to carry out our mission of improving the quality of life for people in communities throughout the Salt Lake Valley through tree plantings and environmental stewardship. But volunteering is not only an opportunity to get out and give back; it is also a fantastic way of community building and meeting others that share your and our passion for helping to improve the integrity of Utah’s environment.

The benefits of volunteering are numerous and long-lasting. Volunteering, getting outside and planting trees are proven ways of protecting your own mental and physical health by getting fresh air and physical activity, meeting and interacting with new people, and providing a sense of purpose by doing a service for your community. Volunteering provides the unique opportunity to meet people from all walks of life with similar interests and a shared sense of pride for giving back and helping others. At TreeUtah, you get to do all of this, all while improving the environment!

Jack Jacob TreeUtah Volunteer Coordinator

Dead Trees Matter!

A dead tree might seem useless to thriving forest, however, dead trees play an integral role in keeping that forest healthy and sustainable. A standing dead tree, also called a snag, ironically supports life in many ways. The primary importance of a dead tree is as it gets decomposed by fungi and bacteria, the dead wood gets its nutrients released back into the ground which helps future saplings grow and flourish. Other secondary uses for dead trees that help many aspects of the forest include:

  • Dead logs shelter for animals like snakes, squirrels, opossums, and other nesting mammals
  • Woodpeckers drill the snags as supply for food and as a nesting site.
    • Woodpeckers test each snag to see which wood is the softest, the softer the wood, the more likely a Woodpecker will be nesting there.
  • A dead tree provides birds of prey such as eagles, hawks and owls a perch to get a better view of prey on the ground without being obscured by leaves and branches. 

Dead trees may not have the beauty it once had, but the tree still provides an invaluable contribution to the overall health of a forest. Next time you see a dead tree, keep a lookout for creatures that may be calling it their home.

Eshan Narasipura

What Trees to Plant in Utah

One of TreeUtah’s most wanted information is “What trees to plant?” There are many trees to choose from at local Utah nurseries. But some tree species get planted too often, and some not often enough.  TreeUtah regularly researches what tree varieties are ideal for Utah’s urban places and updates this list.

The dominant plant communities found in much of Utah can be roughly correlated with elevation, as follows:

  • Subalpine and Alpine: 10,000 feet and higher
  • Upper Montane: 9,000-10,000 feet
  • Mid-Montane: 6,000-9,000 feet
  • Foothill: 4,800-6,000 feet
  • Valley: 4,200-4,800 feet

While elevation is a good climate predictor—lower elevations are generally hotter and drier, higher elevations are cooler and moister—other factors play a role in creating microclimates within the elevation zones.

It’s also always good to be aware of the effects of planting non-native and invasive plants to your area. Currently in Utah it is best not to plant White or Subalpine Firs, they are being decimated by an infestation of Balsam Wooly Adelgid (new since 2015).

There are so many good resources here and on the Utah Community Forestry Council and local city sites to help you find just the right trees to plant. We hope you will find what you are looking for and want to hear from you as to what will help you decide! Happy Planting!

Utah Fruit Season

I’d love to see a new form of social security … everyone taught how to grow their own; fruit and nut trees planted along every street, parks planted out to edibles, every high rise with a roof garden, every school with at least one fruit tree for every kid enrolled. – Jackie French

Utah can be a challenging climate for some eager fruit tree gardeners to have success but choosing the right plants can make a huge difference in your local harvest. Most of our Utah climate is perfect for apricots, peaches, apples, cherries, and many other fruits. With a little know how you can enjoy fruit trees in your own yard.

One way to know what plants grow well is to buy locally. Nurseries typically only sell trees that will survive in their local climates.

Fruit trees are more challenging to grow than vegetable plants in Utah, mainly because of their initial special care and the length of time before they begin to produce. Fruit trees require the appropriate balance of water, food, sun and ventilation to grow healthy and build resistance against diseases and pests. Careful clean up of debris around trees and proper pruning will help prevent diseases. Treating them with good care early will help you prevent larger problems later.

The planting area should have at least a half a day of sun and be protected from the wind. The soil should have reasonable drainage. If you have animals, young children, or wild deer nearby, young trees need to be protected with cages, or fences. Deer and other animals love to nibble on the bark and the tender leaves.

If you have a small area for fruit trees, you may want to consider trees that have more than one variety grafted on to the same tree. There are apple trees that grow several types of apples. Some pit trees can grow peaches and apricots. Remember, some varieties need pollination, which may require planting two different varieties of trees. Talking with someone at your local nursery will help you choose the varieties that will best meet your needs.

Join TreeUtah Hiking!

TreeUtah is all about getting outside and getting into nature, join TU on one of our nature hikes and learn how to identify trees in Utah. Be sure to get information on our events page and pre-register! You can read about some of the many benefits of hiking below!

1. Hiking Makes You Happy

It can: “Improve your mood, decrease your anxiety and even improve your memory.” According to this 2014 Stanford University study, quoted in the LA Times.

2. Hiking Can Ward Off Depression

new study, also mentioned by the LA Times, says: “A 90 minute stroll in a natural environment can lead to measurable benefits for the brain, and may help combat depression.”

Though you need to hike while immersed in nature, as the scientists did not find the same benefits when hikers walked by a busy road with lots of traffic.

3. Hiking Makes You Less Stressed

This 2014 study, quoted in Outside, also found that going for a long walk combatted depression, while also helping people “mitigate the negative effects of stressful life events and perceived stress.”

4. It Helps You Solve Problems

“Spending time outdoors increases attention spans and creative problem-solving skills by as much as 50 percent.” According to a 2012 study, cited by the Huffington Post.

5. It Boosts Memory

“After just an hour interacting with nature, memory performance and attention spans improved by 20%,” according to this 2008 University of Michigan study, cited in this Guardian piece.

6. It Helps You Think More Creatively

Scientists in 2014 showed that walking rather than sitting was key for new idea generation.

7. Hiking Gets You Fit

Especially if you hike briskly, making it a great low impact cardio activity. For those that care about calories, hiking will help you burn around 500 calories an hour.

Relationship Between Urban Tree Cover Density and Self-Reported Stress Recovery

A study, published in Environment and Behavior, was based on self-reported questionnaires, an earlier 2016 study, published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, measured reduced physiological markers of stress in subjects simply looking at images of nature.

These findings suggest that viewing tree canopy in communities can significantly aid stress recovery and that every tree matters.

In an increasingly stressful world we need more trees and closeness to nature in our lives. Nature encourages social connection as well and exposure to nature has been proven to be key factor in maintaining good physical, social and mental health. The calming effects of the natural environment are particularly beneficial for easing stress, anxiety and symptoms of depression.

“The findings suggest that keeping a few snapshots of greenery around your work desk might not be a bad idea. When participants viewed the natural images in the experiment, their stress levels lowered, thanks to the activation of their parasympathetic nervous system – which controls certain rest functions,” Science Alert reports.

“High levels of parasympathetic activity have been associated with numerous benefits including more adaptive emotion regulation strategies and decreased risk of cardiovascular disease,” the researchers write.

TreeUtah is dedicated to keeping our communities filled with trees to promote healthy minds and living. We encourage everyone to look for ways to support more urban tree growth and to take time each day to connect with nature, especially when stress enters our lives.

Memorial Day Reflections

Here in Utah originally created as a city park in 1902, Memory Grove Park was dedicated in 1924 as a memorial for America’s soldiers and contains several other monuments in addition to The Pagoda. On August 11, 1999 a tornado passed through Memory Grove Park resulting in the destruction of over 400 old trees. No monuments were damaged.

From the Library of Congress, Walter Reed Memorial Hospital, Gold Star Mothers, DAR, Veteran Parks, to school children planting a tree in remembrance of animals killed in the Great War, trees as memorials are growing across America.

Check out the National Memorial Tree Register “Let us remember”, American’s living monuments, Great War Memorial Trees and the men and women in whose memory they are planted. #memorialday #treeutah#trees #community #worldwars #inmemory

Tree Utah 30 Years Planting!

Same TreeUtah new TreeUtah Logo!

Many people we meet these days now know how important trees are to our environment and the impact they have on our planet. Here at TreeUtah 2019 marks our 30th year of being an active nonprofit dedicated to planting trees!

It is truly remarkable to reflect upon all that it takes for an organization to reach where we are at now and how your support and volunteerism has made it all happen these past 3 decades.

To celebrate 30 years we are collecting tree stories at bit.ly/treestoryslc . Tell us about your memorial trees, the trees you had your first kiss under, the trees you planted when your daughter was born, and anything else you would like to share ti is our way to look back on our important past, sharing it with all of you who we hope will be part of our exciting future. Here’s to you! Here’s to trees! Here’s to 30 years planting!

Jardine, Juniper of Logan Canyon

Nestled high on an outcropping in Logan Canyon, Old Jardine, stands to watch over the needled forest and meadows below. For over 1500 years, she has reigned. The trail to reach her slowly rises from the canyon floor, winding through grasses dried from the summer and climbing into the cool forest’s shade to reach her down a series of sandy switchbacks. Jardine’s bark is grooved with wind and smoothed by time, only her crown the rich green of a living, breathing juniper. Unknown to us is her wisdom, but it is felt nevertheless.

This Tree Story was contributed by Diantha Williamson. Thank you. Do you have a tree story to share? Send your story to education@treeutah.org. 

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Sponsor a Tree Planting

TreeUtah welcomes sponsors for our 2015 planting season.

Many groups choose to sponsor a planting event each year as an annual team building and community service project. Your business, church group, or community group can join us at one of our many free public tree plantings. Or groups can sponsor their own special event which will include the following benefits beyond making Utah a greener place to live, work, and play:

  • Choose your date & time.
  • Select a location (TreeUtah has many popular planting locations through Utah).
  • Determine if your tree planting event is private (for group members only) or open to the public.
  • Trees, proper training, and tools will be provided by TreeUtah.
  • All events include coffee and a light breakfast.

Find out more about becoming a tree planting sponsor by clicking here.