Hannah Miller

Hannah Miller

Last Saturday, over 35 great volunteers helped us plant 10 new trees in Inglewood Park. In 2020, many old trees across all of Northern Utah were lost to the hurricane-strength windstorm. Inglewood Park lost a number of large trees and branches. At the planting, TreeUtah volunteers planted a row of hedge maples, redbud, and a tulip tree to restore the canopy cover in the area.

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TreeUtah spent last Saturday on the University of Utah campus. We planted a mix of asian trees including Japanese Zelkova and Gingko alongside students from the Asian American Student Association and horticulturists from the U. These trees will add to the beauty of the University of Utah's campus arburetum for generations to come! 

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Last Saturday morning, the sun came out shining, like so many of our enthusiastic and hardworking volunteers. They, along with TreeUtah staff and interns, planted various types of trees and plants as part of restoration efforts along the Jordan River in West Valley City. 

We worked with Salt Lake County Flood Control and Salt Lake County Parks and Recreation to coordinate the event. The Jordan River has a series of levees managed by the Army Corps of Engineers to help with long-term flood control which caused a number of trees to be cut down. We planted trees to restore the ecosystem. We planted woody perennials this spring that will help stabilize soil and keep weeds from overtaking areas that we will plant trees into in the late fall (which is a better time for this type of restoration planting). We had other volunteers fencing off existing trees to protect what was left from damaging beavers. 

Make sure to keep an eye out in the future for part two of this restoration. Part two of the restoration will take place in the fall and will be found on our events page. In the meantime, we will be hosting more public tree plantings most weekends and we would love to see you there. Thank you to all the volunteers who helped with this restoration planting last Saturday. We could not have done it without them. 

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March 30, 2022

No Shade, No Gains

There is a Chinese proverb that says, “the best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago. The second best time is now”. 

Trees are complex beautiful things that provide us benefits we may take for granted without realizing it. They are mighty carbon warriors who take in excess carbon out of the atmosphere and in turn oxygenate our earth. Trees are also great creators of shade, our protectors against the sun’s rays when it gets too much. Shade from tree canopy, however, is not distributed equitably here in Salt Lake City and the effects are substantially felt on the west side. At TreeUtah we are working to plant more trees each year through our West Side Initiative. All people have a right to nature and we are initiating change by planting trees.

The inaccessibility of tree canopy coverage in an urban environment inevitably leads to consequences from the heat island effect. The heat island effect is not new, but as we increasingly urbanize now and in years down the line, areas will experience higher overall temperatures (up to 25 degrees Fahrenheit more during the hottest afternoons) if greenspace is not prioritized and dark surfaces like asphalt and buildings become more dominant.

Adding trees into spaces, however, will mitigate a common concern in urban areas which is ground-level ozone. Ground-level ozone is a harmful pollutant made from the interaction of the sun, volatile organic compounds found in common household products, and nitrogen oxide from car exhaust. Experiencing hotter days because of climate change and the urban heat island certainly does not help our ground-level ozone levels. With one of the benefits of trees being that they lower air pollution, trees are one solution to improve ground-level ozone and help individuals who are medically sensitive or who may be prone to suffer from illnesses correlated to bad air quality. 

Adding things like trees in areas will also foster a sense of place and belonging for individuals because of bringing people together in outdoor spaces that seem more inviting. For further info on the social, environmental, and economic benefits provided to us each day by trees, check out our about page.

Not that long ago, the pandemic started to change the way we work. With workplace culture increasingly switching to remote, people are gravitating toward spending more time outside and participating in outdoor activities. However, we cannot reap the ultimate benefits from these experiences if basic things such as tree cover and green space are lacking. These benefits that trees provide us like improving air quality, helping the heat island, along with the change in our time spent in nature, all build up to why trees are so important in planting equitably on the streets and in places like Title I schools. Our West Side Initiative coincides with Mayor Mendenhall’s four year plan of planting an additional 1,000 trees just on the west side of Salt Lake City each year. Keep your eye out for our next community tree planting on the west side by keeping up to date on our events

Sometimes, it is the aesthetics of the natural world that draw us outside. Have you come across a unique tree in your experience while walking in your neighborhood? Or perhaps you came across a tree that you admired while traveling. All trees are unique in their own way, but there are some really unique ones around the world. Let’s travel around the world to five unique types of trees. 

The Tree of Forty Fruits in New York

A few years ago, Syracuse University art professor Sam Van Aken  decided to create a living piece of art. Using the technique known as chip grafting, Van Aken began the process of creating a tree bearing forty different kinds of stone fruit including plums, peaches, apricots, and nectarines. Van Aken is using the tree as a conservation message to spread awareness that decisions around agriculture have led to less diverse representation of the kinds of fruits in our markets. 

In the spring, the Tree of Forty Fruit then begins to bloom, showing its variety of colors, all sections indicating what stone fruit it bears. His first Tree of Forty Fruits remains in New York, but he has created other similar trees in other eastern states not exclusively to Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Maine.

Methuselah: A Bristlecone Pine in California

What makes this tree so special is it is quite an old tree - approximately almost 5,000 years old to be exact. Currently, it is one of the oldest bristlecone pines on earth and its name Methuselah has roots in the biblical Methuselah who supposedly lived nearly a millennium. 

You can tell Methuselah is a bristlecone pine by its appearance. A bristlecone pine’s unique thick and twisted trunk makes them look like a sturdy tree. This tree species is because it can withstand surviving off less water than other trees. Bristlecone pines can endure arid-like climates which is why you will see them in states like Utah, Nevada, or California.  

Dragon Blood Tree on the Island of Socotra in Yemen

Dragon blood trees, also known as dracaena cinnabari, are not like any trees seen here in Utah because they are endemic to the island of Socotra in Yemen. Their unusual appearance is often from the branches collectively forming what looks like an upturned umbrella. Only able to thrive in the conditions on the island, taking measures to conserve them right now is so important. As with many trees, environmental factors such as climate change are affecting these trees and these trees hold cultural importance to the people on the island. The tree’s resin can be used for natural healing practices. Dragon blood trees get their name from this ‘blood’ resin that is a byproduct from the tree’s bark.  

DeadVlei Trees in Namibia

Around 900 years ago, the earth experienced what is called the Medieval Warm Period. An anomaly in the patterns for climatic changes, certain parts of the earth are proposed to have experienced an unusually warmer climate.

What is now known as Namibia in Southern Africa was a location that could have been impacted by this anomaly. The new climate from the Medieval Warm Period changed the landscape and these trees could not acclimate nor could these conditions allow for the trees to properly break down into detritus. The trees now serve as relics to the past and a tool to increase our understanding of the past climate.

Ginkgo Tree in China

The ginkgo tree originates in China, but is well suited to a variety of conditions and has fared well in urban environments. 

When a female ginkgo tree sheds its seeds, it can emit an unpleasant odor in the near vicinity, but the tree’s color in the fall is a beautiful bright yellow that will make up for the smell. 

Historically, ginkgo trees like the DeadVlei trees in Namibia are evidence rich in our long climatic history. Gingko trees have been recorded to be dated back more than 200 million years before the dinosaurs became extinct. Dinosaurs became extinct roughly 66 million years ago. These ginkgo trees have lived through quite a lot.


A common question that surely goes around tree enthusiasts is how can you identify a dogwood? The answer is of course by its bark. The red-osier dogwood is one of the shrubby plants volunteers, with the help of TreeUtah and Wasatch Mountain State Park staff, identified on the hike just a few weeks ago. The American native red-osier dogwood by all appearances bears white berries and has multiple stems that are a bright and flashy red in its early years. The red stems become less bright as it ages, though. Nevertheless, it is hard to miss this aesthetically pleasing shrub when eyeing a landscape. 

Every kind of tree or shrubby plant is unique in their own way, both in their appearance and their benefits to wildlife or people. Besides being deciduous, the red-osier dogwood is a great option for when needing to help areas prone to erosion like wetlands and even your own backyard that contains wetter soil. The red-osier dogwood has strong fibrous roots holding it in place which helps the surrounding soil not blow or wash away into surrounding waters or in the air.

The red-osier dogwood also has various versatile uses. Inside the bark of the tree contains fibrous wood components that can be used as a tobacco substitute by indigenous populations. Additionally, it’s bright and slender branches are used to weave baskets which are similar to what wicker baskets look like. Though these uses serve their purpose, we need to look at the red-osier dogwood not for its benefits it brings humans, but through the larger context of the wildlife and environment as a whole. 

Various wildlife like moose, elk, and birds use its stems and spring blooming flowers as a resource for shelter or sustenance. Birds in the United States like American robins, pheasants, and ruffed grouse are some that have benefited from the red-osier. Though, the ruffed grouse is a nonmigratory bird that can be found in the more northern region of Utah and is one of ninety-five birds who use this shrubby plant as a food source. Based on a vulnerability map by the Audubon Society, ruffed grouse could become especially vulnerable during the winter months from temperature increases due to climate change. With the red-osier dogwood not drought tolerant and climate change possibly impacting soil moisture, what kind of changes would this bring to the ruffed grouse using the red-osier dogwood as a resource? 

The red-osier dogwood is quite unique and an important resource for some wildlife so the question being asked is important in addressing. We have a list of what trees similar to the red-osier dogwood that you can plant, so give it a look here.

For the past few years, TreeUtah and the Utah Department of Agriculture  and Food (UDAF) Insect Program have worked to protect native and naturalized ash trees from the threat of invasives. We spoke recently with Joey Caputo who is a Survey Entomologist at UDAF and he told us the UDAF Insect Program is dedicated to “protecting the social, environmental, and economic integrity of the great state of Utah” from invasive insects and disease. 

An invasive species that has especially made headlines from a federal issued quarantine as early as 2020 is the emerald ash borer (EAB), also known as Agrilus planipennis. The EAB is a green beetle originating from northeast Asia that feeds on ash trees, decimating their tree populations within a few years of the insects becoming in contact with them. There is a high concentration of ash called Fraxinus anomala making it vital to protect them. The beetle was first discovered in Michigan in 2002 through infested nursery stock or firewood, which are the two ways EAB can travel from place to place.

Ash trees are an important piece to Utah’s landscape. The EAB poses a threat because as a whole, ash trees make up 15-20% of urban tree cover in Utah. If the EAB is introduced into Utah, the imminent decimation of ash trees could consequently reduce the aesthetics and other benefits trees provide. Implications of reduced tree cover can be anything from excess heat from the heat island effect, pollution not being removed from the atmosphere, and diminished habitat for important wildlife. Caputo says some ash trees can be saved from the EAB, but not without environmental costs because of ample pesticide use. When using pesticides, effects are not just localized to the areas they are used. The ingestion of toxic pesticide chemicals by birds, mammals, or insects can cause a tip in the precarious balance of an ecosystem. 

While we are an organization who strives to protect the native ash population with UDAF, the steps you can take as an individual are important for prevention of further devastation too. The federal issued quarantine by the USDA ended in 2020, but the UDAF issued guidelines to mitigate the issue via their own R68-11. Quarantine Pertaining to the Emerald Ash Borer and R68-23 Utah Firewood Quarantine.

What is important to note is the native ash trees in the United States are more at risk than ash trees from where the beetle originated. Trees in northeast Asia have had a chance through generations to coexist and adapt and become unaffected by the beetle while ash trees here have not. With this in mind, we asked Caputo what next steps Utahns can take to help mitigate the issue and he broke it down into four simple steps. 

1) Source and support locally chopped wood. Caputo says, “firewood should never be transported across state-lines and firewood harvested within the state shouldn’t be moved more than 50 miles from its origin”.

2) Maintain your yard to be biodiverse because that small ecosystem you have created could be more resilient and less prone to buckling in the future. At TreeUtah we have an extensive list of tree recommendations in place of ash, so make sure to visit our tree guide on our website the next time you plant a tree. 

3) Keep your eyes open for EAB infestation signs. Caputo says to contact UDAF if “small d-shaped exit holes in the bark, a thinning canopy, and leafy shoots growing out of the lower trunk” are visible on an ash tree.

4) Be eager for knowledge and an active participant in your community for spreading word about the EAB. Information you spread is valuable to keeping the EAB from decimating our native ash trees.

Thank you to Joey Caputo for invaluable insight into the emerald ash borer. 


For a while, Valentine’s Day in the United States has had symbols such as the heart shaped box of chocolates, a bouquet of roses, and romantic dinners to show your love for those you care about. Not everyone may have access to displaying their love for loved ones through these cultural symbols on Valentine’s Day however. Rather, this special day can be used to explore other forms of showing love built more on experience rather than the many disposable symbols of our Valentine's Day culture. 


A non-consumptive gift idea that a loved one will appreciate this Valentine’s Day is donation through TreeUtah. Your donation to us allows you the option to select a tree for them, which is a great way to show your love through a physical symbol to that special person.  We can send a personalized message through card or email to let them know about the tribute at your request too. Donating through our memorial tree program at Sugar House Park is another option.

With our mission to make Utah a better place to live, we will use these donations for the trees we will plant at our planting events in the spring.  Know that each and every donation we receive will in turn help us plant more trees that will grow, bloom, and strengthen year after year just as your bond with a loved one will grow stronger year after year. We have many exciting volunteer opportunities like our upcoming tree planting events. You can register as a volunteer this spring. Follow for our updates about these events through our events page, our Facebook, or through Now Playing Utah.

Get Outside

Next, an inexpensive thing to do on Valentine’s Day is an outdoor activity. We do live in the  beautiful state of Utah, so take advantage of it. An outdoor activity can be in the form of going on a hike or even gathering up a picnic dinner and eating it under the night sky. Order takeout by supporting local or make a simple meal from home and bring it with you. Leave your worries behind, bundle up, and enjoy the great outdoors and being in the moment with loved ones through this simple idea.

The Impact of Buying Flowers

The options are truly endless on how to spend your Valentine’s Day not in the form of heart shaped boxes of chocolate, roses, or expensive romantic dinners. While we are not saying that these are still not great ways to show you care for your loved ones, the floriculture industry for those bouquets of flowers bought in the United States and globally for days like Valentine’s Day isn’t without its problems.

In 2015, floriculture constituted 17% of imports into the United States and as of 2018, Columbia is one of the largest exporters of flowers like roses. The process of getting non domestic flowers from place to place is a relatively short process hopping from one country to the next because of the priority to maintain the utmost freshness of the flowers. Though the typical time frame flowers take to transport can vary based on the location they ship from.

In the beginning of their long journey from field or greenhouse to store to the ultimate goal of vases in our homes, flowers are refrigerated at around 50 degrees Fahrenheit while on a plane. The energy costs of constant refrigeration along with the greenhouse gas emissions of an airplane, freight trucks, and cars to get flowers to their final destinations begins to add up at a heavy cost. Carbon dioxide emissions from a plane ride alone constitutes a ratio of three kilograms of carbon dioxide per 1 kilogram of fuel

While this very briefly covers some of the far-reaching environmental impacts associated with non-domestic rose production, supporting locally grown roses, opting for outdoor activities, or donating this Valentine’s Day are the more sustainable choices. What will you choose to do for Valentine’s Day?


February 11, 2022

Snowshoe Hike Recap

Last Saturday, over 35 eager volunteers and TreeUtah and Wasatch Mountain State Park staff braved the chilly weather and gathered for our snowshoe hike. While our snowshoe hike ended up turning into an ice cleat hike, volunteers in several groups spent their morning exploring part of the beautiful and snowy 23,000 acres within Wasatch Mountain State Park.

In those groups, volunteers came upon ten different tagged trees on their hike. They used a dichotomous key to identify specific characteristics leading them to identify the species. Volunteers learned about tree facts specific to the identified trees such as the gambel oak, chokecherry, and the quaking aspen along with general tree facts from the staff member leading each group. We absolutely loved seeing the volunteers have such inquisitive minds and asked such thoughtful questions to further their knowledge about the trees in Utah. In case you missed this event, keep an eye out for similar ones in the future through our events page.

We would like to thank ChipDrop who sponsored this event. The first ten lucky people who arrived got a stylish and free orange ChipDrop beanie to don and keep off the chill during the hike on Saturday. When you sign up with chipdrop.com, arborists can deliver free, fresh, and local wood chips directly to you and even schools too. Eliminate the usual hassle involved with buying wood chips and sign up with ChipDrop. It is a simple and effective solution to help the overall health of your yard. 

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