Friday, January 27, 2012

More Triage on Legion Way

Above: This tree on Legion Way is scheduled for removal.

More Triage on Legion Way

by Janine Unsoeld

An "X" marks the spot for 12 trees on Legion Way, indicating that they will be removed.

After a thorough assessment conducted by the City of Olympia's urban forester, 12 trees on Legion Way are in the process of being removed due to damage following last week's snow and ice storm. Two private tree removal companies have been contracted by the city to do the removal, now underway, said Cathie Butler, communications manager for the City of Olympia.

Broken limbs caused damage to several homes and Madison Elementary School on Legion Way. Asked about damage to the school, "a tree scraped the side of the building and broke one of the light fixtures and that was it. Overall, we fared very well - we feel very fortunate," said Ryan Betz, director of communications and community relations for the Olympia School District today.

Above: A tree on Legion Way near Madison Elementary School has been marked to indicate limb removal.

Another six trees on Legion Way, already scheduled to be removed in an earlier assessment and replaced with young trees, are not among the 12 identified this week as representing an imminent public safety hazard. Those trees are slated to be removed at a later time.

Planted on Armistice Day in 1928 as a living memorial to honor local veterans, some trees on Legion Way are now 90 feet tall. Over 30 years ago, 123 trees were topped for overhead utility lines. As a result, the trees have long been on the decline due to unnaturally shaped and weakened branches and trunks.

Above: Portions of Legion Way continues to be closed while tree work is ongoing.

Above: The tree on Legion Way that scraped Madison Elementary School has been removed.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

"We're Doing A Lot Of Triage (Tree-age) Right Now...."

Above: A beloved, heavily damaged beech tree in Sylvester Park, downtown Olympia, will need to be removed. The tree is thought to be 119 years old.

"We're Doing A Lot Of Triage (Tree-age) Right Now...."

by Janine Unsoeld

Yesterday's sunny, almost spring-like weather allowed many people to finally get out and assess the damage resulting from last week's snow and ice storm. State employees, however, have been hard at work throughout the ordeal.

"We're doing a lot of - pardon the pun - triage right now," said MaryGrace Jennings, cultural resource manager for the State Department of Enterprise Services (DES), formerly known as the Department of General Administration. Her responsibilities include facility planning related to historic grounds.

Contacted about fallen trees on state-owned property, Jennings said she has been in meetings with other state agency staff and has developed a list of planned removals, many now underway. First and foremost, crews are dealing with removals that relate to public safety. Enterprise Services has hired three tree service companies to remove broken and fallen branches.

Asked specifically about the historic trees in Sylvester Park, Jennings said a heavily damaged beech tree will have to be removed. "It's gotta come out, but we still have one left," she said.

The tree, thought to be 119 years old, suffered a severe wound a long time ago, resulting in concrete being poured into a gap in the trunk, a former tree preservation practice. One limb that broke off was rotten at the elbow.

"It had a tremendous weak spot...there will be no recovery," said Jennings.

Above: One of two major limbs that broke off of the beech tree in Sylvester Park. In this view, the last remaining beech tree in the park can be seen in the background, near Capitol Way.

Jennings said the area was a public commons until it was landscaped and dedicated in 1893 as a park, to suit the new courthouse, by Edmunds Sylvester. At that time, it was landscaped with two dozen trees.

"The remaining elm tree in the park near Franklin Street lost a lot of limbs but is fine. We will do a hard prune - Europeans are having tremendous success doing this. We are planning to do this but are making no commitments right now, but the elm tree has safety issues that we must address," said Jennings.

Regarding the trees on the Capitol campus, four cherry trees were damaged, and one of the original Olmstead maples on campus may have to be removed. The tree is located near the World War II memorial. "It has already been the subject of bracing, but we may just have to let it die with dignity now," said Jennings.

Above: A heavily damaged Olmstead tree on the Capitol Campus in Olympia.

Another big tree loss is along Deschutes Parkway. Seven elm trees planted after the Nisqually earthquake in 2001 sustained heavy damage and will have to be removed. Jennings said, "They were healthy and well on their's heartbreaking...."

Above: State Department of Enterprise Services gardener Dan Kirschner breaks snow and ice off the sidewalk around Deschutes Parkway yesterday.

Above: Working as a team, State Department of Enterprise Services (DES) gardener Chris Brownell cleans up the path just scraped by DES gardener Dan Kirschner.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

"We Need To Take Back The Park"

Above: A memorial to Mt. Rainier Park Ranger Margaret Anderson is set up at the visitor's center at Paradise. The display included flowers and a book for people to sign and express their thoughts.

"We Need To Take Back The Park"

by Janine Unsoeld

"It's really important to us that the park is back open and we reclaim the beauty as a place of inspiration, solitude, recreation, refuge and renewal. Those are the things that makes the park important to people," said Kevin Bacher, Mt. Rainier National Park Service public information officer, today while on duty at Longmire.

The park reopened after a week of being closed in the aftermath of the shooting death of Ranger Margaret Anderson.

On the morning of January 1, Park Ranger Anderson set up a traffic block to intercept a vehicle that failed to stop at a chain-up checkpoint. The driver, Benjamin Colton Barnes, opened fire on Anderson, killing her. The driver then fled on foot into the woods. Approximately 250 personnel were involved in the search operations. Barnes was found dead near Narada Falls on January 2.

Mount Rainier National Park closed during the hunt for the gunman, with the park evacuating park visitors to get them out of potential danger. There were 125 visitors in lock down at the Paradise Visitor Center from Sunday noon until 3:30 p.m. Monday. There were also 25 visitors at the National Park Inn at Longmire who were evacuated out of the park. Visitors had been held at these locations for their own safety.

Above: Mt. Rainier National Park Service public information officer Kevin Bacher, center, speaks with Scott Isaacson, a public information officer from Lassen Volcanic Park in Northern California today at Longmire.

Anderson worked at Mount Rainier for three years and is survived by her husband Eric, also a ranger in the park, and two young children. A memorial service to celebrate Anderson's life will be held on Tuesday, January 10, 2012, 1:00 p.m., at Pacific Lutheran University, Olson Auditorium, 12180 Park Avenue South, Tacoma.

"It's really been a hard week," Bacher continued. 'The degree to which this has been hard for our staff has been hard to express."

"We need to take back the park and make it a positive place and not let someone with an agenda to change that...Margaret deserves that," Bacher continued, clearly choking up with emotion. Bacher expressed how the park service community has come together to support Mt. Rainier National Park rangers, and indicated rangers standing nearby who have recently arrived from Yosemite and Sequoia national parks to relieve them of their responsibilities and provide support as needed.

In memory of Ranger Margaret Anderson, below is a sampling of the scenes and sheer beauty at Mt. Rainier today:

Above: Flag at half-staff in memory of Margaret Anderson at Longmire.

Above: A Cascade fox who looks like he may be used to a handout or cute as they are, do not feed the foxes!

Above: Another Cascade fox. These foxes, although different colors, belong to the same subspecies, Vulpes vulpes cascadensis.

Above: Kite flying at about 6,200 ft on Mt. Rainier.

Above: Janine skiing - Lindsay Vonn has nothing to fear.

Above: Sunset from Paradise.

Donations for the Anderson family may be sent to:

P.O. Box 159
Eatonville, WA 98328
Checks should be made out to Margaret Anderson Donation Account