VALPARAISO | There's more to being a good steward of the city's trees than hugging them occasionally.
To find out what it takes to be a good tree steward, the city and the Indiana Department of Natural Resources Community and Urban Forestry office will hold a two-day training session Sept. 19 and 20 at Forest Park Golf Course.
"The tree steward program's main goal is creating or building an informed citizen body," said Carrie Tauscher, IDNR urban forester/volunteer coordinator. "There are lots of things challenging our forests, but one thing we can control is how we treat our trees."
The program is designed for everyone from city employees, landscapers and master gardeners to community members, students and anyone wanting to learn more about trees. It teaches how to identify trees and properly plant and care for them, as well as identifying threats and what the benefits of trees are.
Tauscher said the guidelines for tree care have changed in recent years and the seminar is a cheap way to learn the latest tips on planting, pruning and proper handling of tree stock.
"We've learned a lot about how tree roots grow and function," she said. "We know what to look for in defects. We've learned a lot of what pruning does. In the past we learned how trees react to ice, wind and storms by knowing what happens to wood. Now we are studying the trees themselves."
The golf course will benefit from the seminar, as the pruning instructions will involve hands-on experience on trees around the clubhouse. A session will deal with pests and diseases with emphasis on the emerald ash borer, the Asian longhorn beetle and the 1,000 canker disease.
The course will cover the benefits of trees and how to calculate them online based on how much carbon they sequester, the particulate pollution they absorb and other factors, including the value they can add to a property.
"Big trees bring big benefits," Tauscher said. "Small trees have benefits too, and you can fit them under utility lines. If you make good decisions ahead of time about what trees you plant where, you will not be mad at the utility that your tree got scalped."
Cost of the two all-day sessions (8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) is $30 and includes course materials (with a reusable canvas bag), light refreshments and a lunch. The deadline to register is Sept. 6, and prepaid registration is required.
For more information or to obtain a registration form, contact Tauscher at the IDNR Community and Urban Forestry office at (317) 234-4386 or email her at ctauscher@dnr.IN.gov. It also is available on the city's Web site at www.valpo.us/trees. Completed forms should be sent to IDNR CUF Tree Stewards, 402 W. Washington. W 296, Indianapolis, IN 46204. Checks for the $30 registration fee should be made payable to the Indiana Urban Forest Council.