Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Tree Maintenance in Sylvester Park, Old Capitol Building Campus

Above: Workers remove damaged limbs from a mature beech tree in Sylvester Park yesterday.
by Janine Unsoeld

Trees are being pruned, and some are slated for possible removal in Sylvester Park and the nearby campus of the Old Capitol Building.

Luke Colvin, owner of Arbor Care Tree Specialists, of Astoria, Oregon and his crew were spotted in the park yesterday taking care of some dangerous limbs. Colvin said that one tree, a Deodoria Cedar, had a "big fracture" in it as a result of last year's storm. The other tree they were pruning is a beech.

"These trees have some large crossing limbs in the upper canopy and some over weighted lower leaders...We've been honored to receive a two year contract with the state of Washington to maintain the trees in state parks and properties...now we're buried in work," said Colvin. He said the state has worked for two years on a progressive scope of work that includes an inventory and evaluation of trees throughout the Capitol Campus and state owned properties. Sylvester Park is owned and maintained by the state.

In late December, the company removed trees near the Insurance Building, and a nearly 35-foot-tall Western red cedar tree next to the Visitor Center at Capitol Way and Sid Snyder Avenue. That tree, which was adjacent to the pedestrian footbridge over Capitol Way, was diseased and posed a public safety hazard. Wood from the downed tree was offered to local tribes.

There are plans and a timeline of activities associated with the replanting of trees wherever possible. In the case of the four trees recently removed near the Insurance Building, replanting will not occur due to their proximity to the building. In three other campus locations where trees were removed, trees were replanted, with more replantings scheduled in the future.

Tree Inventory and Evaluation

Upon request of the state Department of Enterprise Services, Colvin's company evaluated the trees in Sylvester Park and the Old Capitol Building grounds.  At both locations, Colvin says he did not see any major signs or symptoms of root rot or large decay pockets in the trunks of the trees. Because of the lack of outward signs of major structural defects caused by decay, he only performed visual evaluations of the trees from the ground. 

According to the October 2012 report, his findings and recommendations mostly recommend proper pruning to repair storm damage, to establish proper structure and reduce tip weight on the lower leaders. This work will help insure long term preservation, help prevent future storm damage and reduce hazards.

Some trees, however, are slated for possible removal. Colvin's report includes the following description of his assessments:

Sylvester Park:

"Along the south side of the park, there is a row of conifer trees made up of Common juniper, False arborvitae, Western red cedar and Port Orford cedar. All of these trees have grown up in very close proximity to each other and thus have had a lot of competition for light and space. Due to this competition, the trees have taller heights than they should...and are over weighted in the upper canopies. Also, there are numerous included crotches because of co-dominant tops, minor to major storm damage and some small decay pockets. I recommend proper pruning and possible removal of a couple of the trees to reduce the hazards they pose.

Other trees:

On the west side of the park there is a row of six mature Norway maple trees that appear to be in good over-all condition. All six sustained minor to major storm damage. I recommend proper pruning to repair storm damage...."

In the southeast corner of the park is a mature American elm tree. This tree sustained major storm damage and has some very over weighted lower leaders. In the lower canopy, this tree is pushing a lot of epicormic growth from the main trunk. This could be in response to the storm damage or be a sign of another underlying problem. Further in depth evaluation should be performed to determine the health and safety of this tree. If the tree is found reasonably safe to retain, I recommend proper pruning to repair storm damage...."

Old Capitol Building grounds:
Two trees are recommended for removal.

"On the southwest corner of the building is a mature Western red cedar. This tree sustained major storm damage and has many very over weighted lower leaders. I recommend proper pruning to repair storm damage...."

On the southeast corner and the east side of the property, there are ten semi-mature Sweet gum trees. All ten sustained minor storm damage and one sustained major storm damage. The one that had the entire top broken out, I recommend removal and replacement. For the other nine, I recommend proper pruning to repair storm damage...."

On the northwest corner of the property is an over-mature Port Orford cedar. This tree has three major co-dominant tops. At all three unions, there is extensive included bark and each top is heavily weighted in one direction. Also, there was very poor annual shoot growth, which is major sign of stress. I recommend removal to mitigate life, traffic, pedestrian and structure safety hazard this tree poses. " 

Colvin and his team are scheduled to be in the park and on the Old Capitol Building grounds throughout the week.

Above: New grass was recently planted where a 119 year old beech tree was removed last year after it sustained heavy damage in last year's winter storm.