Monday, February 16, 2015

14 Black Walnuts to be Removed at State Hospital

Today you might be thinking about George Washington  - and a cherry tree. That's probably apocryphal, but we've got plenty of real stories to consider. With trees at the Blind School in the news, here's another set of trees to worry about.

The villain this time is an invasive species.

Regular readers may recall a couple of scattered notes about "thousand cankers disease." The "walnut twig beetle" carries it, and it has come to Salem. Our big walnuts are beginning to wither and die, and at the moment there's no treatment.

Walnuts line D Street at the State Hospital in February
In a "minor historic review," last week the City approved removal of 14 of them at the State Hospital:
As noted by [the consulting arborist] the Black Walnut trees are all experiencing various amounts of branch dieback that are indicative of Thousand Cankers Disease (TCD). Of the fifty-six tress that were evaluated on the property, [they] recommend a total of fourteen (14) be removed because they are in advanced stages of decline and present an unreasonable risk to the public due to...falling dead branches.
The City Forester concurred with the consulting arborist, and this appears to be a straightforward assessment - no funny business.

Four trees on D Street and 10 trees on Center Street will be removed, and Oregon White Oaks planted in their place. The new trees will also be recessed an additional five feet from the road to allow for future road widening and/or new sidewalks.

(As wonderful as the walnuts are, when the nuts drop, they are terrible to bike through, and the debris poses an unwanted risk of involuntary dismount. Drivers wonder why we might stray from the bike lane or shoulder to the center of the road in the fall! Purely from this standpoint, native oaks will be much nicer - though of course we'll all be dead before the new trees have large canopies and are equally grand.)

Because of the life cycle of the beetles, the prospect for further spread of the disease, as well as the possibility of nesting birds, the tree removal is scheduled to start this week.

If you're around the neighborhood, consider paying your respects. Especially this week with the glorious sun.

From all appearances, the disease will continue to spread from tree to tree, and the whole planting is at risk. Each year new trees will succumb and have to be removed. There doesn't seem to be a way around this loss, and it's just sad.

Update, March 23rd


Susann Kaltwasser said...

Let's hope that this time the trees are disposed of in a better manner than the previous ones were. An arborist witnessed infected trees being cut down without putting down ground covers, chopping them on site in proximity of other walnut trees and then taking to an open area on the Hospital property and just dumped without cover to decrease the likelihood of further spreading of the disease.

Trees on private property may eventually succomb to this disease, but the State can do something to decrease the spread.

I am also told that the City could be doing things as well that could help control or at least slow the spread of the disease, but they have no interest in doing so. They consider the death of these trees inevitable and thus not worth the effort.

A bit like saying, if this is something that will eventually die, why bother trying to do anything to stop that end result. Some staff even go so far as to say, we can always plant more trees. Which is true, but at some point species will become extinct in part due to a lack of caring.

This attitude has already tbeen extended towards animals, i.e. rare squirrels near Howard Hall.

Some feel like the attitude has already spread to people, i.e. displacing neighborhoods for a 3rd bridge.

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

The infected trees aren't really being contained it looks like from the photos in the paper - no ground covers, for example.

The removal is also a few weeks later than the original proposal suggested was optimal.

Susann may be right, that not enough care is being taken to minimize further spread of the beetles.

Anonymous said...

Well i just read your post to disposal of debris of infected black walnuts. First all chipping debris was taken to a refuse center where it was heated to 110 degrees to kill the infestation. All wood was taken to a kiln and dried immediately. All tools and chippers used were cleaned each day to reduce the risk of spreading. The spread of thousand canker disease is difficult to contain no mater what precaution one takes. The battles are so small and can only move a minimal distance. My company researched the best way to minimized the spread and took every precaution.