Thursday, April 29, 2010

We had the people census, now it’s time for a tree census

Caption: Over 19,000 urban trees have been cut down or removed in Duluth since 1993. Duluth lost its Tree City USA status in 1993. This stump is in front of an apartment building on East Second Street.

By Judy Gibbs

Folks in the Hillside area are coming together to celebrate and count their city trees. Members of East Hillside Community Club [EHCC] have been doing an informal inventory of East Hillside, taking note of the many open planting spots for boulevard trees. Then, when they acquire funding, they buy trees and plant them.

Now, EHCC wants to invite the public to get involved in a formal count of Duluth’s city trees. Since the last time a complete inventory of Duluth’s boulevards was taken in 1993-94, it’s likely that the 19,000 urban trees counted have changed greatly due to construction, old age, disease or weather-related stressors. In addition, Duluth was a member of Tree City USA until 2003, but then funding was cut from the state, and tree planting has been severely curtailed.
One important reason to conduct a tree inventory now is that Duluth anticipates the arrival of a tiny green bug from Asia, the Emerald Ash Borer [EAB]. Its offspring chew the sapwood of ash trees, girdling them until they die. In infestations that have spread from Michigan to 13 other states and provinces, there has been a 100 percent mortality rate. It is estimated that Duluth boulevards have more than 5400 ash trees that will be lost.

Duluth has dedicated the week of May 17-23 to join in with the National Emerald Ash Borer Awareness Week. It also proclaims that week “Arbor Week in Duluth.” Monday, May 17, is officially Arbor Day, and the Mayor will plant a tree in Chester Park at 2 p.m. Kid-friendly activities will be offered before and after that event, including tree planting in which the public can help to re-establish Duluth as a Tree City, USA.