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‘A challenging time to be a tree right now’: City of Winnipeg forester

An early winter storm with heavy wet snow caused fallen trees, many on cars, and power lines in Winnipeg early Friday morning, October 11, 2019. Snow clearing crews were forced to hit the streets to clean up the damage. THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods.
An early winter storm with heavy wet snow caused fallen trees, many on cars, and power lines in Winnipeg early Friday morning, October 11, 2019. Snow clearing crews were forced to hit the streets to clean up the damage. THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods.

A storm that hit Manitoba over the Thanksgiving weekend last year caused an unprecedented amount of damage to Winnipeg’s trees — and now that the weather is finally starting to warm up, city staff are back in action reforesting Winnipeg’s parks and boulevards.

“We did complete all of the high-risk concerns out there with pruning and removal of felled trees, felled limbs,” city forester Martha Barwinsky told 680 CJOB.

“We expect there are some that we missed — that we didn’t see or weren’t called in — that we’ll be addressing over the next few months, especially now as people are spending more time in their yards and looking at trees.”

Barwinsky said the city estimates about 30,000 of its 300,000 boulevard and park trees were impacted in some way by the storm.

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“That’s unprecedented in our time, for sure. Also what’s unprecedented is the amount of assistance and support we had to clean up that damage.

“We’re still amazed at how quickly we were able to do that with our dedicated staff and with the support of private industry and other cities coming out to help us.”

READ MORE: City says clean-up of Winnipeg’s storm-damaged trees could take a year

Although the damage from the storm is cleaned up, Winnipeg trees aren’t necessarily in the clear just yet.

“It’s certainly a challenging time to be a tree right now,” said Barwinsky, with dangers like Dutch Elm Disease an ever-present threat.

City teams will be out shortly removing trees that have been marked due to Dutch Elm, and workers will also be sent out to conduct surveillance once trees are in full leaf — including potentially visiting homeowners’ yards to inspect their elm trees.

Barwinsky said forestry staff will be wearing high-visibility vests with City of Winnipeg ID, and will be knocking on people’s doors first.

Homeowners with elm trees are also being asked to avoid pruning their trees for the next few months.

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“There is a pruning restriction on elm from April 1 to July 31,” said Barwinsky.

“When elms are pruned during the summer months, they’re actually quite attractive to the elm bark beetles, which is the beetle that carries the fungus from tree to tree that carries Dutch Elm Disease.”

There’s also a ban on storing elm firewood throughout the year as well.

“Coming into this long weekend, a lot of people are camping or going to the cottage, they need to be aware that it’s illegal to transport any kind of firewood in and out of the city.”

More than 1,700 tonnes of fallen trees, branches collected since storm hit Winnipeg
More than 1,700 tonnes of fallen trees, branches collected since storm hit Winnipeg