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July 2013

Canopy Check + up

How we ensure our city’s trees stay healthy.

Casey Trees News in Brief

Casey Trees finds success in summer tree-care events Casey Trees staff and volunteers braved tall grass at the Franciscan Monastery to weed and mulch 30 Casey Trees-planted trees during a Saturday Soak tree-care event. Rainfall totals from the week leading up to the June 8 event equaled the recommended 25 gallons of water a week, so watering was not necessary. The Tower Companies is sponsoring a Thirsty Thursday watering at Glenncrest on July 18. Registration is open for that event as well as a Saturday Soak at the same location on Aug. 3. Students from Cesar Chavez Public Charter School’s Environmental Justice capstone course, where they learn about the differing access to the natural environment by ward, joined Casey Trees staff to weed and mulch 35 trees planted last season at Oxon Run Park on June 12. The students’ dedication to and enthusiasm for caring for trees and their understanding of the importance of trees to residents of all wards in D.C. were impressive. On July 8, Casey Trees will partner with the DC EcoWomen, a professional development group for environmentally conscious women in the region, for a tree-care event at Takoma Recreation Center, where the group will water, weed and mulch nearly 50 trees planted in the last several seasons around the center, helping to decrease the tree mortality rate in this area of the city.

Casey Trees News Research Director to speak at ISA Conference | On Aug. 15, Dr. Jessica Sanders, Casey Trees’ Director of Technical Services and Research, will be giving a presentation on 20-year growth expectation of urban trees based on available soil at the International Society of Arboriculture’s Annual Conference and Trade Show in Toronto. In her talk, Dr. Sanders will focus on the reduction of DBH (diameter at breast height) and canopy associated with a limited amount of soil, using data from growth curves to show the correlation between the two.

Urban Forestry News D.C. Parks Master Plan in the Works, Casey Trees Offers Recommendations | The District Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) is developing a comprehensive Parks and Recreation Master Plan designed to “guide a new, bold, and


strategic vision for advancing District’s parks and recreation resources.” In order to encourage a tree friendly parks plan, Casey Trees’ Planning and Design department and volunteer Tree Advocates* attended the Master Plan public workshop on Tuesday June 18. Although the District has made a big effort to improve and modernize it recreation facilities, parks spaces have not benefited from the same public investment. In order for the Parks and Recreation Master plan to reflect both the sentiments of the public and the mission of Casey Trees, the plan must include a sincere effort improve the quality of city parks. We urge DPR to include the following items as part of the comprehensive master plan goals: 1) Adopt a tree canopy goal We ask that the Department of Parks and Recreation adopt a 50 percent canopy goal for all of its green space and open areas.

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2) Preserve, maintain, and restore natural green spaces on DPR land. We ask that DPR establish a policy of preserving and maintaining natural areas as a priority for its master plan.

people died from heart disease and 6,000 more from lower respiratory disease than in states not affected by the pest. Researcher Geoffrey Donovan suggested we start to look at trees as “part of our public health infrastructure.”

3) Fund environmental programming for children and teenagers. We ask that DPR pursue its Be Green goal by furthering programming for natural play and environmental education that utilizes parks and open space on city property.

High Temperature Records dwarf Record Lows in D.C. Metro | In recent decades, warm temperature records have outpaced cold temperature records in the DC area, differing from the statistically based expectation that a comparable number of cold temperature records should occur alongside warm temperature records. Daily heat records have outnumbered daily cold records in the district by a 7 to 1 ratio since the year 2000, and by a 16 to 1 ratio in the past 3.5 years. One way to remedy this warm weather trend is to plant trees! Trees cool the air through evapotranspiration, the process of evaporating groundwater to the air through a tree’s roots and leaves, and by absorbing solar energy. A lack of trees in urban areas contributes to the heat island effect, in which a city with too much grey infrastructure and not enough vegetation becomes significantly hotter than its suburban and rural surrounding areas.

To read more about the three priorities for the Parks and Recreation Master Plan, please read our complementary blog post. Tree Mortality linked to human deaths | In a recent U.S. Forest Service study on trees and human health, researchers found a link between the death of trees and that of humans. The studied analyzed tree mortality rates associated with emerald ash borer infestation in 15 states in the Midwest and Northeast. They found that with the high tree mortality in those states, an additional 15,000

In this issue... Spotlight: Citizen Forester Jaime Fearer Takes a Lead role................................................ 4 Tree Anatomy Demonstrates importance of proper pruning............................................. 5 Staff and Volunteers Help Prune Tidal Basin’s Famous Cherry Trees........................ 6-7 Casey Trees Selects 2013 High School Summer Crew.............................................................. 8 Summer Crew Sustains D.C.’s Trees with Support from Sponsors................................. 9 Winner Announced in Casey Tree Farm Master Plan Design Competition............. 10-11 Understanding D.C.’s proposed Green-Area Ratio............................................................. 12-13 Casey Trees’ Summer Event schedule..................................................................................... 14-15 Arbor Kids: Fun Ways to Water Trees.......................................................................................... 16

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Spotlight Citizen Forester Jaime Fearer finds her passion in tree plantings By Alison Shapiro, Communications Intern, Casey Trees | Two important life changes brought Jaime Fearer down the path to becoming a Citizen Forester (CF)— changing her career to city planning and meeting her significant other, Lead Citizen Forester (LCF) Geoffrey Hatchard. Fearer’s connection to trees grew out of her connection to people and her community. Her passion for her field is evident when she describes her volunteer efforts through the Community Tree Planting (CTP) program. CTP events allow volunteers to “meet and interact with people outside of their everyday circles,” Fearer said. Although the tree plantings only last a few hours, she hopes “the intention — and the trees — remain there for a lifetime.”

Fearer hopes to become a stronger advocate for trees in the future, as well as pursue arborist certification. For the first time this fall, she will team up with Hatchard as an LCF for one of the season’s CTP projects. She hopes to offer the same support to volunteers that staff and other CFs offered to her at her first planting. “To be able to help, even in a small way, quite literally spread that canopy to all neighborhoods in the District is a real honor,” she said.

Fearer with partner and fellow Citizen Forester Geoff Hatchard in April 2013.

Fearer, who has lived in D.C. for 10 years and works as a city planner for the City of Greenbelt, first started volunteering at tree plantings in 2010 and soon came to love the neighborhood aspect. As Jaime learned more about the important role that trees play in the environment and about development patterns and planning, her level of interest grew.


“I like being able to both personally and professionally nurture the tree canopy we have,” she said. “Restoring what we’ve lost and advocating for the future.”

Citizen Forester training begins in August, where among many things, you can learn how to properly and safely do Fearer’s favorite planting activity — driving in the stakes. “You’ve completed the hard work of digging and the delicate work of getting the tree in the hole just right, and then you just get to pound out any bit of restless energy you have left into those stakes!”

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Technology & Research Science Behind It: Why do we prune? By Dr. Jessica Sanders, Director of Technical Services and Research, Casey Trees | “Proper pruning is one of the best things that can be done for a tree; improper pruning is one of the worst things that can be done to a tree” – Dr. Alex Shigo The goal of pruning a tree is to selectively remove parts to meet a desired set of outcomes. Perhaps the most profound objective is to prolong its life span through optimal branch and trunk structure. A common question we get is why do we devote so much more time and financial resources to pruning trees in our cities than in stands of forest? Proper pruning can enhance a tree’s beauty, health and stability. When we plant trees in our city, we expect the majority of them to reach maturity. In a forest, trees will shed their branches. In the city, people congregate, travel and park their cars under trees, so we prune them to minimize potential threats to safety and personal property. For example, proactive pruning requires fewer investments than reactionary pruning after a storm event. Pruning has recently moved from goal-oriented in the short term to more long-term planning. By acknowledging that some of the branches on a tree may be temporary branches, you can achieve a better overall structure for the future and keep the end goal in mind. Trees do not heal, but rather they seal off their wounds. Pruning is actually wounding the tree. When done correctly, it will help, but when done

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wrong — as seen in the Woodland-Normanstone neighborhood recently — it can harm the tree. The most common examples of improper pruning include flesh cuts and leaving a stub. When pruned correctly, a tree will seal off the wound using a donut shaped callus, starting from the edge and growing in until the callus has engulfed the cut. Flesh cuts and stubs cause wounds that will not callus over and the the decay cannot be compartmentalized, causing rot in the tree. One myth in the arboriculture field is that you should paint over the wound or use wound dressing. This is not good for the tree and substantial research has shown these techniques promote tree rot by inhibiting the internal closure of the wound as well as keeping the wound wet after a long rain. To prevent serious long-term damage to your tree from improper pruning, make sure to become an informed pruner, take a class or have a certified arborist prune for you. For a further breakdown of the science behind pruning, stay tuned to Casey Trees’ blog, Tree Speak.


Education Volunteers prune D.C.’s famous cherry trees By Stephanie Juchs, Community Education Coordinator, Casey Trees | Each spring, more than 1.5 million people visit Washington, D.C. to admire the blossoms of cherry trees along the Tidal Basin, Washington Monument grounds, Hains Point, and East and West Potomac Park. The trees require more than just structural pruning to keep them photo ready. That’s where Casey Trees came in. Cherry trees are prone to producing suckers, shoot that grows from a bud at the base of a tree or directly from its roots, and epicormic shoots, sprouts that emerge from dormant buds along the trunk or branch of a tree. These suckers and shoots divert available energy and resources away from the tree’s canopy.

While members of the National Mall and Memorial Parks tree crew structurally prune the trees from January to early March each year, the National Park Service (NPS) relies on volunteer groups to prune the constant flush of suckers. This year Casey Trees was lucky enough to become one of the groups that got to help maintain the cherry trees. On three consecutive Saturdays in June, small groups of Casey Trees volunteers accompanied an NPS employee around the Tidal Basin and Hains Point to prune the suckers and shoots. Because this was our first chance to work with such important and historic trees, only recent participants of our Trees 101, Trees 201 and pruning workshops and events were invited to participate in this special opportunity. Without the pink and white blossoms attracting crowds of people, volunteers were able to prune in solitude, taking in the beauty of the trees and focusing on filling buckets and tarps with the suckers and shoots. Over the three weekends, volunteers pruned more than 100 trees in the Tidal Basin and covering almost two miles of ground on Hains Point. After such successful and rewarding events, plans are already in the works for another round of pruning events in the fall. As volunteer Mikel Witte said, “we’ll get those little suckers!”

Volunteers spent nine hours over a three-day span to prune hundreds of historic cherry trees along the Tidal Basin and Hains Point in June.


Consider signing up for our Trees 101 and Trees 201 courses in the fall or a Pruning Workshop in

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Pruning was extensive, with volunteers covering miles of land on three separate days.

Pruning helped beautify the historic cherry trees, but also removed suckers and sprouts that compete with the tree’s canopy for available energy. Photo courtesy of Carolyn Ching.

the winter to be invited to help prune D.C.’s historic cherry trees! Additional information about online and classroom educational opportunities can be accessed on the website or found on pages 14 and 15.

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Tree Planting Summer Crew members selected for 2013 season By Alison Shapiro, Communications Intern, Casey Trees | Trees that have been in the ground less than three years will need lots of care during the hot summer months. Luckily, we have help from our High School Summer Crew program with a new round of students in 2013! Since 2002, Summer Crew members have watered, mulched and weeded newly planted trees and tracking their condition for seven weeks. Students access former planting sites in trucks using water sourced from fire hydrants or 500-gallon water bladders and 300-gallon pump tanks. Crew members fill slow-release watering bags that can hold 25 gallons of water using buckets and hoses.

• Jessice Djiendjie; Washington, D.C. • Essay Gidey; Washington, D.C. • Marquel Lewis; Washington, D.C.

Crew members also travel by bike as part of Water By-Cycle, a bicycle-powered tree care fleet that allows us to access neighborhoods with limited street parking while reducing our carbon footprint. Selected candidates were chosen from more than 120 applicants after participating in an in-person interview and a two-day field tryout. This season’s crew includes: • Serlome Agbleze; Washington, D.C. • Natasha Barker; Washington, D.C. • Michael Dayao; Gaithersburg, Md.


• Bianca Nicolosi; Washington, D.C. • Robert Page; Bethesda, Md. • Ruslan Pietra; Arlington, Va. • Quinn Pittman; Silver Spring, Md. Last year’s Summer Crew team logged a nearrecord 6,050 tree touches — the number of times crew members cared for a single tree. We look forward to this year’s crew exceeding last year’s impressive total and keeping D.C. green! Get to know each crew member a little better through a series of interviews that will be featured throughout the summer on Casey Trees’ blog, Tree Speak.

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Giving Sponsors’ support grows Summer Crew, protects D.C.’s trees By Lauren Mansur, Communications and Development Intern, Casey Trees | The summer months can only mean one thing here in Washington — the Casey Trees High School Summer Crew is back in action! From June 28 to Aug. 9, Casey Trees will send out ten of D.C.’s best and brightest high school students to weed, water and mulch trees Casey Trees planted throughout the year. As temperatures rise and dry conditions increase, our Summer Crew members provide the extra care our city’s trees need to survive. But even after more than 10 years of maintaining the District’s trees, the Summer Crew still would not be possible without the wonderful support of our amazing donors and sponsors. This year, Casey Trees received a number of grants — as well as private contributions from individuals — that helped keep Summer Crew in action yet again. For the third straight year, the U.S. Forest Service and the Community Foundation of the National Capital Region (on behalf of the Share Fund) provided grants to the program. Their combined funding has employed more than 30 students from across the D.C. metro, offering opportunities to work outside and in their communities. In addition to these operational grants, we were also fortunate to find sponsors for crew members this summer. Casey Trees board member Barbara Shea and D.C. residents Jeffrey and Deb Nussbaum both stepped up in a big way to support our Summer Crew. By sponsoring a crew member,

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they provide wages for one lucky high school student this summer, allowing him/her the chance to truly make a difference in the community. As a thank you to the Nussbaum Family, we have named the Water By-Cycle trailers after their two daughters. Be on the lookout for “Sophia” and “Ada” this summer! Support from our incredible sponsors and donors means the world to us at Casey Trees — and makes a huge impact on the survival of our city’s trees. By supplying Summer Crew members with necessary equipment to weed, water and mulch trees, donors ensure D.C. stays green year-round. And while Summer Crew members play a vital role in the longevity of our trees, dedicated community members like you help make programs like these possible in the first place. If you would like to help keep D.C. green during the hot summer months and sponsor a Summer Crew member this summer, please contact Mark DeSantis in our Development Department at 202.833.9125 or by email. Casey Trees offers a variety of ways to directly contribute financially to its tree planting and education programs.


Casey Tree Farm Casey Trees announces Design Competition winner By Mark Buscaino, Executive Director, Casey Trees | There is a lot going on at Casey Trees, but when someone asked me recently what the biggest thing was that we tackled of late, the answer was easy — Casey Tree Farm.

tragedy — an electrical fire started by old wiring consumed a portion of the large barn. We restored the barn, replaced the old wiring in it and the other structures as well, and stabilized all of the buildings to eliminate further deterioration.

Five years ago when we were given the farm we knew we had a lot of work ahead. Many of the structures were unoccupied for years and had fallen into disrepair. Paint was peeling, roofs needed replacement, basements were leaking – the list of deferred maintenance was long.

Once the buildings were stabilized, we hired a full time staff to move us to the next phase. Today, because of the hard work of General Manager Brian Mayell and his staff, today we are well on our way toward growing most of the trees we use in our many planting programs. Controlling our tree production to ensure quality and testing new production methods represents fulfillment of an organizational dream. Just two years in and we have already planted more than 1,000 farmgrown trees in D.C. and held more than 20 tours to pass on what we have learned to professionals and laypersons alike to help them re-tree their neighborhoods and communities.

We dedicated our first three years to correcting those problems, and then we were struck by a

But Casey Tree Farm is a big place — more than one square mile of farmland and forest. How else, we asked, could it help us achieve our mission while keeping us connected to the agricultural land ethic embodied in Clarke County, Va., where it is located? We put that question out to 50 colleges and universities across the country and five of them responded to the call.

Casey Tree Farm features a 16-acre tree nursery housing more than 10,000 trees, many of which are native to the Mid-Atlantic or species that are difficult to find commercially.


The schools and their teams of students and professors provided some great insights; in particular providing detailed soil and related land data identifying what portions of the land would

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The design team from Virginia Tech University, whose plan placed first in the competition.

be most suitable for various agricultural practices. The jury comprised of Casey Trees board members were particularly impressed by Virginia Tech’s submission and, by unanimous vote, awarded them first prize. That left three other teams: Clemson University, the University of Maryland at College Park and a joint submission from Syracuse University and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The jury deadlocked because these remaining submissions were so close there was no clear second- or third-

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place winner, and it was therefore decided to split the prize money amongst all three. Casey Trees thanks all the teams for their great work, along with the coordination conducted by the ASLAN Group. As time progresses and our tree production operations mature, we will look to engage those Design Team ideas that enhance Casey Tree Farm and help us connect people to trees. Casey Tree Farm continues to be highlighted in The Leaflet and on Casey Trees’ blog, Tree Speak.


Advocacy Understanding D.C.’s proposed Green Area Ratio By Elliott August, Graduate Advocacy Intern, Casey Trees | D.C.’s leaders face the challenge of stewarding economic growth and concurrently making Washington a national sustainability leader. As new residents flock to the city and construction surges, our political leaders must make important decisions related to resource and energy use. To address these challenges, Mayor Vincent Gray announced the ambitious Sustainability DC initiative in summer 2011. Aimed at transforming the capital into a healthy, green and livable city, the initiative’s goals and motivations are codified within the Sustainable DC Plan. One program currently in consideration is the proposed Green Area Ratio (GAR). Understanding the GAR is important as we continue to make strides in obtaining the District’s tree canopy goal.

What is the Green Area Ratio? The GAR is a proposed amendment to the District’s current Zoning Regulations designed to promote attractive and environmentally friendly landscapes. It requires the inclusion of “green” landscape elements for new buildings and major renovations on stores, offices, warehouses and multi-unit residential structures.

How does it work? The GAR sets requirements for the ratio of green


landscape elements to total property surface area. These requirements vary across Zone Districts and building size. The GAR is calculated by adding the total area of green elements (e.g. trees, green roofs, bioretention areas) and dividing that sum by the lot’s surface area. Different landscape features are weighted through a multiplier. For example, surface areas covered by a green roof with soil eight inches or deeper have a multiplier of .8 (100 ft. green roof equals 80 ft. in GAR calculations).

How can it be improved? Though the city should promote design elements that improve environmental health, the GAR falls short, particularly when it comes to trees. The proposed amendment is confusing and does not properly incentivize tree planting or protection. Casey Trees Executive Director Mark Buscaino submitted public comment on the GAR to the D.C. Council’s Committee of the Whole in September 2012. His recommendations, which have not been incorporated in subsequent revisions, highlight key issues with the regulation. Those issues and their proposed solutions are as follows: 1) The GAR incentivizes tree size at planting, not at maturity. Large canopy trees provide greater environmental benefit than smaller, ornamental varieties. The GAR does not recognize this. Instead, it rewards developers for planting trees that are large at

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the time of planting, regardless of expected size at maturity. Planted trees should be placed into classifications based on size at maturity (small, medium and large), with larger varieties prioritized over smaller ones.

Under the current proposed Green Area Ratio, more credit will be given to the size at the time of planting, not at maturity, meaning a 3.5-inch-caliper cherry tree will get more credit than a white oak sapling, which will dwarf the cherry tree once it reaches maturity.

2) There is no mention of the city’s tree canopy goal. Trees promote environmental health better than any other landscape element. For this reason, the city has adopted a 40 percent tree canopy goal that was reaffirmed in the Sustainable DC Plan. Unfortunately, the GAR makes no mention of the goal. Regulations for sustainable landscapes should feature trees prominently. The GAR bill should include the city’s overall canopy goal and set specific canopy goals for each Zone District (some can support more than 40 percent canopy, while others cannot). 3) The tree measurement standards are confusing. The GAR uses diameter to measure both preserved and planted trees. That measurement is never used for newly planted trees, only established ones. Planted trees should be classified by height at maturity, and planted when their caliper measures 2.5�. Trees planted at this time have the best chance of survival. Protected trees should be classified using diameter, which arborists refer to as diameter at breast height (DBH). DBH is measured at a height of 4 feet, 6 inches.

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4) The GAR poorly distinguishes planted from preserved trees. The GAR struggles to distinguish between planted and preserved trees, particularly in assigning multipliers and equivalent square footage. The GAR language should be clarified, with an emphasis on protecting standing trees on property. Casey Trees recently began its Tree Advocates program, which aims to turn concerned citizens into arbor advocates through education and community activism. To learn how to advocate on behalf of trees, take our Stand Up for Trees workshop scheduled for Sept. 21.


Events July and August events Water is especially important — and fun — in summer. From parties at local watering holes to river tree tours to tree watering events, Casey Trees spared no expense. Most events require advanced registration; space is limited and waitlists are available.

Tuesday, July 9 Social: Branch Out Happy Hour 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Marvin 2007 14th Street NW

Casey Trees staff, friends and volunteers will mingle on the rooftop of Marvin, a great space in the U Street area. Open to all! Cost: Free

Tuesday, July 16 Family Program: Tree Detectives at Stoddert Elementary School 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Stoddert Elementary School 4001 Calvert Street NW

Tree Detectives is a series of family-focused tree tours styled as scavenger hunts, best for families with children in grades 1 to 6. Join us for an evening tour at Ward 3’s Stoddert Elementary. Cost: Free

Thursday, July 18

Saturday, August 3

Volunteer: Thirsty Thursday

Volunteer: Thirsty Thursday

6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Glenncrest 4900 F Street SE

9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. Glenncrest 4900 F Street SE

Help weed, water and mulch trees planted through our Community Tree Planting program in Ward 7’s Glenncrest community.

Help weed, water and mulch trees planted through our Community Tree Planting program in Ward 7’s Glenncrest community.

Cost: Free

Cost: Free

Thursday, July 25

Wednesday, August 7

Tree Tour: Riparian Forests Paddling Outing

Class: Non-native Invasive Plant Removal

5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Kenilworth Park Deane Avenue NE

6:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Casey Trees Headquarters 3030 12th Street NE

Join Casey Trees and Anacostia Watershed Society (AWS) for a paddle night on the Anacostia River while learning about the ecology of the surrounding wetlands and forests. From a canoe or kayak provided by AWS, participants will have the chance to see the rich flora of the riparian corridor including trees such as river birch, green ash, and Eastern cottonwood.

This course looks at non-native, invasive plants and how they threaten native landscapes. Participants will learn how to identify and control common invasives found in the D.C. area. Cost: Free **Registering for the classroom session automatically registers participants for the field session on Aug. 10.



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Saturday, August 10

Tuesday, August 20

Class: Non-native Invasive Plant Removal Field Session

Family Program: Tree Detectives at Lincoln Park

9:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Rock Creek Park

6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Lincoln Park East Capitol and 11th Streets SE

Field session for “Non-native Invasive Plant Removal” class. Cost: Free **The course consists of two parts on two different days: the Aug. 7 classroom session will be followed by a field session in Rock Creek Park on Aug. 10.

Tree Detectives is a series of family-focused tree tours styled as scavenger hunts, best for families with children in grades 1 to 6. Join us for an evening tour in Capitol Hill’s Lincoln Park. Cost: Free

Tuesday, August 13 Social: Branch Out Happy Hour 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Satellite Room 2047 9th Street NW

Located directly behind the famous 9:30 Club, this 1960s themed bar and diner serves up burgers, beer and some deliciously boozy milkshakes. Open to all...come mingle! Cost: Free

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Arbor Kids Fun ways to practice 25 to Stay Alive Newly planted trees need 25 gallons of water or 1.5 inches of rain each week! Do you have any newly planted trees in your yard, neighborhood park or school?

Rainfall Tracking Track the weather and how much rain we get each week or use a rain gage to measure the amount of rainfall in inches. Sunday







= Make Your Own Watering Device If not enough rain fell, recycle a used milk or juice carton and use it as a watering device by simply cutting off the top. Calculate how much water each jug holds and how many times you need to refill it to reach 25 gallons!

Would you like to get your children outdoors learning about trees and the benefits they provide? Give them the seed hunt guide on Page 16, or find more downloadable activities online.


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The Leaflet — July 2013  

See how and why Casey Trees staff and volunteers spend hours caring for D.C.'s trees.

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