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Welcome to the '22 Winter Issue of Urban Tree Talk. We wish you a festive, forestry season! Read on for the latest news, resources, and events.

-Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management

Urban and Community Forestry

Pictured above: 2022 tree planting at a Phoenix school with DFFM & community partners.

Using Data to Better Understand the Value of Access to Urban Trees for All

LoriAnne Barnett Warren, DFFM Urban Forestry Specialist

A recent study by G.H. Donovan et al (2022) explored the relationship between trees planted in urban areas and their association with a reduction in non-accidental and cardiovascular deaths in community members. Through the use of well-documented tree planting projects in Portland, Oregon over 30 years, census tract data, and community health data, the study’s authors were able to identify a relationship between trees and longer human lifespans. Having access to long-term data to tell a more complete story about the value of our urban trees is critical to developing communication strategies for community stakeholders. Armed with data, we can better demonstrate why planting trees should be prioritized, especially in marginalized communities. 

Read an article on the topic or reference the published study for more information.

Urban Tree Threat Response Guide

A resource specific to Arizona and New Mexico covering insect, disease and environmental threats on urban trees. Succinct information on the severity, symptoms, and controls for each threat. PDF available now; corresponding website coming soon.


Forest Health Spotlights

Western Bark Beetle Initiative (WBBI) Grant Program

Aly McAlexander, DFFM Forest Health Specialist

Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management (DFFM) with funding provided by the USDA Forest Service solicit proposals annually to treat a minimum of 10 acres through the Western Bark Beetle Initiative Grant Program. The WBBI Grant Program’s main objectives are to create, restore and maintain healthy stands of trees, reduce bark beetle attacks and tree mortality, and protect high value trees and forests. The primary treatment of WBBI projects is the thinning and removal of green pine trees and related slash treatments. This reduction in stand density can improve tree health and reduce the likelihood of attacks from bark beetles. Grant funding is not for treatment of dried, dead, or other material as they are not suitable for bark beetle brood production.

At this time, DFFM has 4 ongoing WBBI projects around Arizona. One ongoing project is the Loma Sabino Pines HOA project on Mt. Lemmon, AZ. This project was awarded in February 2022, and the HOA went to work immediately. Ten months later, the HOA has completed thinning work on 50 acres of common areas. This is a great example of a successful WBBI project!

Before treatment (Left image): Plot is overcrowded with juvenile trees competing for space and resources.

After treatment (Right image): After thinning the stand, the trees left behind have increased access to water and nutrients, increasing their overall health and vigor. This increases their natural resistance to bark beetle infestation and wildfire. The same tree is marked in both photos for reference purposes only.

Invasive Plant Program: Winter Weed Watch

Willie Sommers, DFFM Invasive Plant Program Coordinator 

In the Sonoran Desert, winter weeds to watch for include several species of annual grasses and forbs. Here are a few common nonnative plant species with invasive characteristics that you can expect to see between December and March. Included are a couple images to help identify these species in their early stages, before they flower and develop seeds. However, we encourage you to utilize additional resources (such as the resources I shared in September) because as many of us know, identification can be difficult without an inflorescence present.

Annual Grasses

Pictured above: Red brome seed heads

Watch out for the brome (Bromus) species – cheatgrass (B. tectorum) and red brome (B. rubens). While these brome species are not on the state noxious weed list, they often outcompete desert wildflowers for resources, and in the case of red brome and cheatgrass, can increase fine fuel loading and contribute to wildfires in arid desert environments. Pictured is red brome; as it matures the seed head turns from green to red to purplish.

Buffelgrass and fountain grass (both nonnative invasive perennials) can also get a start with the winter rains.

Invasive Forbs

One invasive forb that has garnered the most attention lately is stinknet (Oncosiphon piluliferum). Stinknet has quickly become prolific in Maricopa County, and has made its way to Pinal and Pima county as well. Fortunately, one doesn’t need to wait for stinknet to flower to identify it - the plant has a distinct (and some would say unpleasant) smell when the leaves are crushed. With the rains we had in early December, stinknet and other invasive forbs like Sahara mustard (Brassica tournefortii) and Malta star thistle (Centaurea melitensis) are set to initiate growth. Pictured here are stinknet (top), Sahara mustard (middle) and Malta star thistle (bottom) as rosettes, which is an early stage of growth when they are most vulnerable to control and removal. 

The importance of early detection and rapid response can be illustrated with this fact: a single Sahara mustard plant can produce up to 9,000 seeds!  So as you’re out and about this winter, what weeds will you be watching for?

Pictured forbs: Stinknet (top right), Saharan mustard (middle), and Malta star thistle (bottom) in rosette form.

Western District Update

Hi everyone! My name is Andrew Dropik and I am the Western District Forester at DFFM. I’ve had the pleasure of serving as the Western District Forester since January of 2022, during which time I’ve been dedicated to reducing hazardous fuels, improving ecosystem health, and providing assistance to the people of the Grand Canyon State. I obtained my Bachelor of Science in Forestry with a specialization in wildlife habitat management and conservation from Southern Illinois University - Carbondale. I have worked for a variety of state and federal agencies throughout my career.

The Western District encompasses nearly 10 million acres and includes Yavapai and Mohave counties. In 2022, the DFFM Western District has reduced hazardous fuels on more than 4,000 acres through 18 different projects. Most of this work was funded by the Healthy Forests Initiative (HFI); next year, my goal is to complete more than 5,000 acres of hazardous fuels treatments utilizing HFI funds. In 2023, the Western District will also utilize funds from the U.S. Forest Service and the Salt River Project to tackle hazardous fuels on the Prescott National Forest and Coconino National Forest.

The improved safety of our communities would not be possible without the help of my colleagues at DFFM, as well as our local and federal partners. I would like to give particular thanks to our local fire districts, Prescott Wildland Urban Interface Commission, Prescott National Forest, and Coconino National Forest for their dedication to enhancing community safety and improving the health of ecosystems across the Western District.

I wish all Arizonans a happy holiday season. We look forward to working with you to make our forests healthier and communities safer in the new year!

Arizona Forestry Recognition Programs

Why Nominate Someone For These Awards?

"Our Community Coordinators feel overwhelmed with pride by the meaningful and public acknowledgement of their efforts to improve the health outcomes and shade equity of their communities. They share the achievement of winning this award as tangible proof of recognition and investment in what have been areas traditionally overlooked when it comes to talent and passion for the environment."

- ParkRx, last year's Ponderosa Pine Partnership Nomination

This is an opportunity to celebrate, share, and increase awareness of urban forestry and the people championing urban forestry efforts in Arizona. The four categories recognize volunteers, government officials or employees, businesses or organizations, and partnerships for urban and community forestry work that occurred in 2022.

Ready to let someone know their work is appreciated? Please review our nomination details and instructions!

Arizona's Magnificent Tree Program

AZ Mag Tree Logo

The Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management is pleased to announce the finalized list of Arizona Champion Trees for 2022! You can view the list of current Champion Trees, which are the largest recorded trees of their species in our state, on our website here. There are 139 trees on the Champion Tree list, each representing a unique species. 

We also received one new nomination for a Arizona Heritage and Witness Tree:The Reidhead Cottonwood, in the City of Show Low. The City acquired the property from Greg Cluff who’s Grandpa Charles Oscar Reidhead (b. 1880-d. 1954) owned the property and had corn fields where Show Low High School currently sits. Charles and his family worked very amicably with Chief William Alchesay (b. 1853-d. 1928) and his White Mountain Apache tribe to help pick the corn at harvest annually. At the end of the harvest, the tribe and Charles split the corn and had a harvest banquet and celebration around the area where the Reidhead Cottonwood tree sits. The full list of 89 Heritage and Witness Trees for 2022 also appears on our website.

Pictured: Jay Brimhall, who is 6'8", standing next to the Reidhead Cottonwood tree!

Think you know about a Magnificent Tree in your community or near your favorite natural area? Consider nominating it for recognition on our 2023 list. We challenge you to find a larger one of one of the species already represented, or a tree that has a special place in your community’s heart! 

Webinars, Trainings and Events

Thank you for reading! 

Note: Our next newsletter in March of 2023 will have a new name: "Arizona Forestry in Focus." It's us, we promise! We're looking forward to sharing more about the change in the new year.

The State of Arizona Urban and Community Forestry Program is made possible with assistance from the USDA Forest Service Urban and Community Forestry Program.

In accordance with Federal law and U.S. Department of Agriculture policy, this

institution is prohibited from discriminating on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability. (Not all prohibited bases apply to all programs.)

Urban & Community Forestry, Forest Health, and Invasive Plant Programs Staff:

John Richardson, Assistant State Forester - Forestry Programs


(602) 771-1420

Cori Dolan, Program Manager


(520) 262-5519

Wolfgang Grunberg, GIS Coordinator 


(602) 399-1886

Willie Sommers, Invasive Plant Program Coordinator


(602) 319-6818

Aly McAlexander, Forest Health Specialist


(602) 290-9644

Viri Quinonez

Forest Health Technician


(480) 349-7585

LoriAnne Barnett Warren, Urban Forestry Specialist


(602) 399-9447

Megan Lasley, Conservation Education Coordinator


(602) 206-9830 

Suggestions or comments? We want to hear from you!

Email Megan Lasley, Conservation Education Coordinator at mlasley@dffm.az.gov

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