Neighbors Rally To Save Trees

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(Sacramento, CA)
Thursday, October 11, 2007

Curtis Park is one of Sacramento’s classic neighborhoods with vintage, bungalow-style homes and narrow streets shaded by tall, majestic trees. This year, 14 of those trees had to be cut down. 

"Many of my friends down here in Curtis Park have lost elms in front of their homes and it’s a big issue for us."  

Mary Anne Waindle has lived in the neighborhood for eight years, right next to the actual park itself…a long, oval greenbelt that stretches about 10 blocks. Standing at Curtis Park’s north entrance, she explains that nearly half of the 14 infected trees were here in the park. 

"And unfortunately we lost all of our shade on that west side so again it really hits home when it affects you personally." 

Citywide, Sacramento lost 60 trees to Dutch Elm Disease this year…that’s about the same amount as last year. The City of Sacramento’s Urban Forest Manager Joe Benassini says it’s pretty easy to tell when an elm is infected. You’ll see a wilting or yellowing on one side of the tree. Infected trees have to be cut down immediately. Otherwise, beetles moving from tree-to-tree will spread the fungus. And Benassini says destroying trees isn’t cheap. 

"Removal of a large elm runs somewhere around $2,500 for the most mature trees." 

Preventing Dutch Elm Disease from starting up in the first place can be costly too. Benassini and his staff are testing some preventative techniques such as therapeutic pruning and treatment with fungicides….but…

"…we don’t do it on a citywide scale because of the prohibitive costs – up to $700 or so per tree."

That’s where the Curtis Park neighborhood association comes in. Resident Mary Anne Waindle says they’re footing the bill to pay for fungicide injections of a chemical called Arbortect. 

"The citizens of our neighborhood have been upset over the fact that we’ve lost so many of our larger elms in the last several years, so we’re in the process of fundraising now actually to kind of replenish our coffers."

The Arbortect injections are expected to protect the trees against Dutch Elm Disease for three years. Waindle says Curtis Park neighbors are determined to do everything they can to make sure they don’t lose any more elms next year.