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Dutch Elm Disease - Rapid Removal Of Trees Underway

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Work is underway to remove several trees from the City’s canopy under a new provincially-supported program aimed at slowing the spread of Dutch Elm Disease.

The rapid removal component of the province’s Dutch Elm Disease Management Program is a new effort aimed at getting the most infected trees out the environment as quickly as possible.

A provincial inspector visited the city in early July and identified 19 trees and one firewood pile which need to be removed.

“These super spreaders, it is better to remove them earlier to help slow the spread of the disease,” city manager Sharla Griffiths said, adding the work must be completed before early August to mitigate transmission to as yet uninfected trees.

Normally the city receives a list of trees marked for removal from the province in September and October and must complete the removal by the end of March.

That will continue as a second phase of removal. In recent years, the city has been removing between 50 and more than 100 trees. Last year the list identified more than 200 trees needing to be removed.

“These trees would most likely be included in our winter removal program, so by taking them out early, hopefully we can slow the spread,” Griffiths said.

Dutch Elm Disease is caused by a fungus that kills American elm trees. The fungus is mainly spread from elm to elm by native elm bark beetles when they feed in the canopy of elms and overwinter under the bark at the base of the trees.

The beetles breed in dead and dying elm material including elms infected with the disease. As such, management centres on the removal and sanitation of this material. Research has shown rapid removal of freshly diseased trees, completed by mid-August, will prevent emergence of spore-bearing beetles and is recommended.

The City is partnering with Dauphin Recreation Services to complete the removal, which is cost-shared with the province at the same rate as the regular winter removal, Griffiths said.

“The regular provincial subsidies apply,” she said, adding the City sees value in trying to save its elm tree population by removing diseased trees. “They vary based on the size of the tree, but we are looking at about 50 to 60 per cent.”

The Dutch Elm Disease Management Program has been in existence in Manitoba ever since Dutch Elm Disease was first detected in the province in 1975. The program is administered under The Forest Health Protection Act and Forest Health Protection Regulations.

Trees marked by provincial inspectors are removed by the participating municipality.

In addition, each community taking part must take measures to protect their elms from Dutch Elm Disease through regular pruning of dead branches, basal spraying of an insecticide and public education.