Wednesday, July 26, 2000

Bad weather leaves trees sick, dying

Average or better rainfall not medicine enough

By Kristina Goetz
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Tristate trees have had just about had enough.

(Tony Jones photo)
| ZOOM |
        Greater Cincinnati arborists say they've seen an increase in the number of sick and dying trees this year, although rainfall has been average or better.

        Ten years' worth of unstable weather conditions combined with the stress of last year's severe drought have put so much stress on trees that they seem to be giving up.

        “The whole Midwest has had weather stress the last 10 years,” said Robin Hunt, an urban forest specialist for the Cincinnati Park Board.

        “The problem is, once a tree gets stress it's like a spring. If you pull it back far enough, it's irreparably damaged.”

        Jack Leibold has 21/2 acres in Hyde Park and had to hire a tree service to keep his older trees in shape. He has about 12 large trees that are readily seen.

        “It's hard to water big, old trees,” he said. “Watering and a fertilizer boost, it makes a big difference. (Drought) is certainly a stress on the older trees and it's hard to get the young ones started.”

        Experts say types of trees that have had problems in the area include spruce, white pine, maple, ash and dogwood.

        Street trees alone number 80,000 in the city of Cincinnati and there are two main programs to remove dead ones. Emergency maintenance removed 320 in 1999. Already this year, 214 have been removed or are scheduled to be removed.

        “It sounds like we're skewed but most of our calls come in the summer,” Mr. Hunt said, adding that a good comparison won't be possible until later in the year.

        The second tree removal program is preventive maintenance. There were as many as 315 removals in this program last year. Numbers for 2000 were not available.

        Rick Hannah is a certified arborist for Davey Tree Expert Co. The Milford business has had an increase in calls recently, he said.

        “Last year's drought was the straw that broke the camel's back, so to speak,” he said. “This year we've seen stuff go down quickly.”


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