Green River Star -

By Misty Springer
Green River Public Affairs and Grants Administrator 

Notes from town square: The dying trees in GR

 


The city’s Parks and Rec. Department does a great deal of work behind the scenes which makes this community a beautiful place to live. Most of what they do never gets noticed, but that’s okay because the people working in Parks and Rec. are not looking for praise. In the cruel paradox that is public service however, just as one’s victories are rarely remarked upon, errors are rarely overlooked. And so, the city would like to explain the sad story of what happened to many of the dear trees that line our lovely streets.

Every year when springtime finally reaches Wyoming, Parks Department staff sets about tidying up the landscaping of all the neighborhood parks and tending the vegetation planted in arterial rights-of-way and public facilities. Staff also begins spraying the rock beds scattered all over city property with chemicals to prevent weed growth and kill any mature weeds. Over time, it became clear that the weeds had become resistant to the chemicals long employed by the city. Staff consulted multiple manufactures to decide upon a new weed treatment plan.

Using all the proper equipment, the new herbicide was applied to rock beds, mulch beds and large tree rings on multiple properties solely owned by the city and maintained by parks and rec. The unusually heavy rains experienced across Wyoming last spring caused the herbicide to penetrate deeply into the soil and it was absorbed by the trees. As it became clear that several trees were experiencing distress, it was discovered that applying this new herbicide too close to desirable vegetation could be dangerous. The entire Parks and Rec. Department was devastated by the mistake and quickly began searching for a way to save as many of the trees as possible.

The Parks division treated all the trees with nutrient injections and has continued to water the trees to dilute and flush out the chemical. They sought the assistance of Wyoming State Forestry and the University of Wyoming Agricultural Extension. Professional arborists from these agencies have inspected the damage and are hopeful of the survival of the deciduous trees, new growth and buds are already setting on the branches of many of these trees. Some evergreen trees did not fare as well. Some of the city’s evergreens will have to be removed and others will remain under observation until next spring.

Areas where trees are removed will be replanted. Replanting will occur gradually to ensure the survival of newly planted trees.

The removal and replanting of some trees will occur this fall on the west side of Uinta, north of Collier Park, in the grassy areas that were not treated by the chemical. Each year the parks department has a budget to plant trees in new areas, this fall the trees that were meant elsewhere will now be used to fill gaps left by the trees that could not be saved.

To minimize costs, city staff will remove most of the diseased trees during the course of this fall and winter. The city is also working with various public agencies to obtain grant funding for the purchase of additional trees.

The lumber from trees that could not be saved must be left to “season” for six months to a year at the end of which, parks will decide how the lumber can best be utilized. Donating it to local civic organizations is one consideration.

The Parks division sincerely regrets applying this chemical so near to many cherished trees and is deeply saddened by their current state. The work to bring back ailing trees and replace those that were lost will take time and patience but the ultimate goal is to make Green River’s treescape better than ever.

 

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