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2,600 trees planted at Pioneer Park since 2007

Paul West and Alaine Sommargren set to work. - Contributed photo
Paul West and Alaine Sommargren set to work.
— image credit: Contributed photo

Paul West and Alaine

Sommargren set to work.

Last March, a stately Douglas fir toppled from Pioneer Park onto an adjacent house on 68th Avenue South. Damage was slight, but the incident was a wake-up call to the Parks and Recreation team that works to keep the park healthy and safe. To the team’s surprise and concern, an until-then unidentified pocket of laminated root rot — the fungus that silently eats away roots of firs — was revealed.

Paul West, Parks Natural Resource Coordinator, and Alaine Sommargen, Forest Steward, mapped out the likely spread of the root rot pocket and arranged to take out and test trees within the root network of the diseased, downed tree. The problem with laminated root rot is that it is invisible until a tree is felled; there is no sure diagnostic test.

On Aug. 5, a crew removed four threatening trees, one by one, which could reach nearby houses, seeking signs of laminated root rot. This was tough work in thick undergrowth well off the beaten path. Three trees showed signs of the disease; one seemed clear.

This is just one example of the forest management challenge that Pioneer Park presents to the Open Space Conservancy Trust. The Trust Board’s goals of making the park healthy and making it valued by Islanders entails constant vigilance, maintenance of trails, control of invasive species, and aggressive re-planting of rot-resistant species like pines, cedars, redwoods and maples. Over 2,600 trees have been planted in the last two years to fulfill the city’s commitment to sustain and nourish an accessible, natural forest preserve in the midst of this urban community.

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