Cold, snow kills city trees; parks will be repaired after water main river crossings

The recent snow storms and cold temperatures wreaked havoc on trees citywide, including memorial trees.

Todd Seymanski, city forester, said during the Oct. 14 Park and Recreation board meeting that as of Friday, the forestry division had logged 557 regular hours, 130.25 overtime hours and 13.5 hours by a contractor to clean up hanging branches and downed limbs. That time does not include time logged by the parks staff.

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Seymanski said the department hired a contractor to help with cleanup and he picked up about 400 cubic yards of branches, limbs and tree debris with a grapple truck. Forestry staff picked up 800-900 hangers, Seymanski said.

Lonnie Dalke, park supervisor, said his staff logged probably double forestry’s hours, cleaning up branches in city parks.

Seymanski said they prioritize by branches blocking roads and safety hazards, but try to clear roads quickly. He said crews with large equipment typically won’t stop for small branches, but will communicate with other crews to come behind them.

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He said the October storms downed a lot of branches, but as for total tree loss, it was “very minimal.”

The low temperatures though, could have damaged the trees. Seymanski said spring conditions and timing will make or break the trees next year.

As for now, “fall color went out the window,” with the early snows, he said.

He said many trees had started budding and the cold temperatures killed those buds. That means the trees will have to produce new buds in the spring, delaying flowering and requiring more energy from the trees, Seymanski said.

A number of memorial trees were also damaged during storms this year and removed. City staff said Monday that most of those were crabapple trees.

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The city has put about $15,000 in park district savings into tree planting to begin replacing some of the 109 crabapple trees that were killed over the winter, particularly those in Gibson Park.

Over last winter, conditions killed off 144 boulevard trees and 204 park trees, including the 109 crabables, according to Park and Rec staff. To replace all of the park trees would cost an estimated $90,000 and to replace all of the crabapples, would be about $50,000.

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Park and Rec is also working with Public Works as that department oversees the installment of water main river crossings since two city parks are being used as staging areas for the construction activity.

Dalke told The Electric that when construction is finished, depending partly on the weather, the contractor will sod Meadowlark Park and seed Verde Park. Irrigation systems will be repaired in both parks, he said.