Residents seek help for tree disease
Okotoks: Town urges replacing prone trees
Wednesday, Jan 28, 2015 01:08 pm
A common tree disease is continuing to take root in Okotoks and some residents are hoping the Town can help put a stop to it.
Kathy Uanikhehi, who lives in Hunters Glen, said a number of residents are frustrated with the “black knot” fungus, which leaves branches of schubert chokecherry and mayday trees looking similar to a burnt hotdog, and will ultimately kill the tree if left unattended.
“Especially for those of us along the river because it's native to the trees along there, so we're kind of hooped,” she said. “If you take a walk along the paths you can see it’s everywhere so unless those are controlled it's just going to continue to spread.”
While trees limbs can be pruned back each year to cut the disease out, it is likely to return since the spores drift in from the forest and attack the susceptible species. Uanikhehi said at this point, she’s considering pulling out her two mayday trees and replacing them with a new species, but she isn’t thrilled about the price tag that will come with it.
“Just talking to some of the other girls and looking online and they said depending on the tree it’s a few hundred dollars,” she said. “I’m a single mom, I don’t have $1,000 to rip the trees out.”
What she’s hoping is for that town to create some sort of incentive to encourage residents to switch out their susceptible trees to help control the spread to other neighbours as well as town trees.
“Even just $100 a tree or an incentive that if you get your tree yanked to get money towards a new tree, or something,” Uanikhehi said. “Because people otherwise are just going to say ‘I can’t be asked, it's going to cost for two trees maybe $1,000, I don't have $1,000, so it can just sit there.’”
She noted that the Town’s water conservation rebate program has been very successful for the last few years, and hoped that they would consider doing something similar for susceptible trees.
“We get those things every year for the water incentive, for all of those other things, for the mulch, so I’m thinking if this is such a rampant issue and really cutting back a tree, it just grows back again,” she said. “Unless the black knot is gone in the surrounding areas it's just going to keep re-infecting it.”
Town of Okotoks urban forester Gordon White black knot continues to be a problem in the community, and the Town has been working on phasing out the two most susceptible species and encourages residents to replace their trees as well.
“It's one of the first things I recommend, is if it looks real bad maybe just cut it down and plant something else,” White said.
He said each year they go out and respond to complaints of black knot by handing out informational notices to affected residents, but there is no legal requirement for them to do anything about the disease.
He said an incentive program to control the disease has never been considered before and said it would likely face some hurdles.
“Because these are on private property, and it would be using taxpayer dollars to try and replace trees on private property, it may be looked at as good or it may be looked at as an unnecessary cost, per say,” he said.
But White said an incentive program might just be the right way to help get residents on board with phasing out the disease.
“It's certainly something that hasn't been brought to my attention and something that we could certainly consider,” he said. “I mean if we get support from council and the town as a whole then we could possibly come up with something.”
For anyone interested in a program or for those who have additional thoughts or comments, White encourages residents to get in touch with the parks department at firstname.lastname@example.org