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Urban Forestry South - What's New

Category - disaster recovery

Urban Forest Strike Teams continue to evolve...
posted Oct 30, 2014 01:06 PM by dhartel

The Urban Forest Strike Team (UFST) program was developed by state forestry agencies and the U.S. Forest Service in the Southern Region (Region 8) and is now being implemented in the northeastern and midwestern states (USDA FS Region 9, NA) with their partner the Massachusetts Tree Wardens & Foresters Association. Urban Forest Strike Teams provide professional recovery services to communities following ice storms, hurricanes, and other natural disasters. The UFST process includes recruiting, training, and deploying professional urban foresters and arborists to assess tree damage using FEMA guidelines and tree risk assessment standards.

Recently, the Arkansas Forestry Commission published their UFST resources into the Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC), and the Virginia Department of Forestry is completing that process now.

On June 16th, the American Planning Association, International Society of Arboriculture, Utility Arborists, and USDA Forest Service (lead by the Northeaster Area) held a scoping session with FEMA, the Army Corps of Engineers, USDA disaster recovery directors, and others to discuss the management of trees an urban forests following natural disasters.

During the week of September 22nd, UFST team leaders, task specialists, workshop trainees and instructors conducted a mock disaster exercise in conjunction with the Georgia Emergency Management Agency (Dick Stokes, EMAC), the Georgia Forestry Commission (Susan Granbery), the Savannah Emergency Manager (Dan Stowers), and the City of Savannah arborist division (Jerry Fleming).

We introduced two new technologies to the participants in this 2 day exercise.  First, for most, was an introduction to ANSI A300 Part 9 level 1 risk assessment into our established UFST tree risk assessment protocol.

And second, with the assistance of the Georgia Forestry Commission (Charles Bailey), we tested the feasibility of using ArcGIS Online (AGOL) for UFST tree assessments.  Five exercise participants used a variety of smartdevices (iPad, Samsung Galaxy & Note smartphone, and Panasonic Toughpad to collect several hours of data.  This test was a good real-world experience and gave us very promising results in terms of ease of use and data accuracy using GPS or digitizing in the field.

We will continue to test useability and accuracy over the next few weeks with hopes of a full scale UFST test at the Fayetteville (AK) mock exercise in late November.


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