Majestic Elms marked for removal

The view looking south over Victoria Park is about to get a little less beautiful. Three beautiful Elm trees located on Crescent Avenue will soon be removed due to extensive Dutch elm disease damage. The Provincial representatives have been out in the community of Souris and many, according to Souris Glenwood Public Works foreman, Andrew Hamilton, more than just the three trees located on Crescent Avenue will soon be cut down.

“I don’t have an exact number as far as the trees that have been marked for take down but just when I am out I have noticed quite a few in the western part of the community,” explained Hamilton. “I will receive a report once it is prepared by the provincial department and from that point we’ll have an idea of how many trees we’re dealing with and move to tender the removal of the trees.”

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The Dutch Elm Disease Management Program has been in existence in Manitoba ever since DED was first detected in this province in 1975. Communities participate in the program through an agreement with the province. Under these agreements, the province provides technical assistance and annual surveillance where trained inspectors search for elm firewood and infected elms. The participating municipality removes trees that have been marked by provincial inspectors. In addition, each of the communities must take measures to protect their elms from DED. These measures include activities such as regular pruning of dead branches from elms that can attract elm bark beetles, basal spraying of an insecticide to elms to reduce elm bark beetle populations, and public education.

Most of the infected trees in Souris are located on Second and Third Street and Third and Fourth Avenue, according to Hamilton. “That’s what I’ve noticed,” he said. ‘It seems that most of the marked trees are in that neighbourhood.” As far as prevention measurers undertaken by the municipality, Hamilton says that they have done basal spraying. As far the use of tanglefoot bands that prevent spring and fall cankerworm wingless female moths from crawling up the tree trunk to lay eggs, Hamilton says he is unfamiliar with that method of prevention. According to the Province, when there is an infestation, cankerworm feeding can cause severe defoliation that stresses and weakens trees. Reducing the stress on elm trees makes them less attractive to elm bark beetles. Tanglefoot bands may also play an incidental role in trapping a few bark beetles.

The Dutch Elm Disease survey program is managed from the Sustainable Development office in Winnipeg and from a regional sub-office in Brandon. From the middle of May until the end of August of each year, provincially appointed inspectors and officers search for elm firewood and diseased and dead elm trees in each of the managed communities. These surveys require that inspectors, who usually work in pairs, visually inspect every property in the community. This means that crews will drive slowly down each street and back lane looking for wood or trees. Properties that cannot be easily seen from roads or back lanes will be surveyed by foot (i.e. riverbank properties.) The crews have binoculars and may use them to look at the crowns of trees for DED symptoms, or they may use them to look at firewood piles.

Elm firewood can contribute to the spread of DED and it is illegal to store or transport in Manitoba. If elm wood has been marked on a property, the owner must destroy (burn, chip) the wood or take it to a designated elm wood disposal site (usually the local landfill) within the two weeks outlined in the letter left by the inspectors.

‘The trees that have been marked will be removed in 2018,” explained Hamilton. “That will be done after we put out the request for tenders and select a company to go ahead with the removal.”

Hamilton believes that once the affected trees are removed, new trees will be planted to take their place in most public areas.

Urban elms in DED managed communities continue to thrive 40 years after DED was first detected in this province. Much of the success of the Dutch Elm Disease Management Program in Manitoba is a result of public participation and cooperation. To report elm wood or a potentially infested tree, or for more information on the program, please contact: Provincial Tree Line: 204-945-7866; Forestry and Peatlands Management Branch Office (Brandon): 204-726-6444.

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