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Death to the Willow Oak

Should Charlotte pursue battle against the Cankerworm?   56 members have voted

  1. 1. Should Charlotte pursue battle against the Cankerworm?

    • No - it is a folly to try and battle this pest
      5
    • Yes - Charlotte's canopy needs to be protected
      53

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43 posts in this topic

Charlotte has gets mentioned a lot for being a city of trees and most of that comes from the canopy that exists over Myers Park, Myers Park Manor, parts of Dilworth, Derita, Plaza Midwood, and other interconnected areas. This canopy is not natural and consists of mainly one species, the willow oak, which was widely planted in the area 60-80 years ago. Unfortunately a one species forest also lends itself to being destroyed by a single malidy which in this case is the cankerworm. You may have noticed the sticky bands of black tape that are placed around these trees which are designed to catch the female cankerworm before it can mate and lay eggs on the trees.

Unfortunately these measures only seem to be slowing down the spread of this pest as this year the city arborist says there is a widespread infestation despite past measure, including spraying from planes, to stop it. He suggest the city increase spending to prevent the worm by 5x.

So the question is should the city continue to do battle against this worm? Or should the city give up and let the trees die and replace them with a variety of species so this problem will not happen in the future?

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One of the first things people I know that come to Charlotte for the first time notice is the trees. Not that we just have some trees, but we have massive trees and a wonderful canopy. Though it might be a losing battle, it is a battle worth fighting in my eyes.

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Trees not only help clense the air or CO2 but they also help make a place more desirable. If those trees go then expect some property value to go with it.

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We definitely need to fund the canker worm traps. It would be crazy not to.

Who voted "no"?

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What if we increased funding 2 or 3X to slow the demise of our 80 year old trees and double tree planting efforts and resources so that 10 years from now when some of our willow oaks are dead, we'll have mature healthy tress instead of gaping holes? It doesn't have to be an either or.

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The average life span of a willow oak (in good conditions) is 130-150 years. The willow oaks (street trees) found in Myers Park, Dilworth and Plaza Midwood are estimated to be between 75 and 90 years old. Eastover trees are slightly younger.

Currently, the city is removing and replacing 300 older trees per year, but this falls far short of the tree replacement program that is needed. This goes back to the arguement posed by archiham04 last year about cutting down all trees along Queens Road West and replacing them all at one time. This is what was done at Biltmore Estate on the great lawn as well as what the French government did at Versailles when a wind storm took out a large number of Poplar trees that stood in rows. They removed them all at once and replanted. I'm not saying this is what should be done in Charlotte, but it can be argued that what makes neighborhoods such as Myers Park so attractive are the organized rows of Willow Oaks. This was John Nolen's plan.

One way or another, any replacement program is going to be painful.

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The lifespan of a willow oak is 130-150 years old when it grows in a more natural environment. Unfortunately for many of the older neighborhoods these trees are hemmed in by concrete sidewalks and asphalt roads and thus have very small root systems. Root systems which are too small to support trees of this age. Also decades of pruning have produced trees that are very top heavy as the tree has been shaped into something that resembles a stalk of broccoli. This invites a number of problems including massive damage potential during ice storms, wind storms and of course the canker worm as they are difficult to control in this environment. The point of this is the lifespan of these trees is much less than 130 years.

They said on TV last night the canker worm is particularly bad in Charlotte because of the high concentration of willow oaks. They also said that Charlotte is the only city that is attempting to eradicate them.

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I want to hear from the lone No voter. Has Don Lochman joined UP? Who thinks inch worms are too much of a match for humans?

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The lifespan of a willow oak is 130-150 years old when it grows in a more natural environment. Unfortunately for many of the older neighborhoods these trees are hemmed in by concrete sidewalks and asphalt roads and thus have very small root systems. Root systems which are too small to support trees of this age. Also decades of pruning have produced trees that are very top heavy as the tree has been shaped into something that resembles a stalk of broccoli. This invites a number of problems including massive damage potential during ice storms, wind storms and of course the canker worm as they are difficult to control in this environment. The point of this is the lifespan of these trees is much less than 130 years.

They said on TV last night the canker worm is particularly bad in Charlotte because of the high concentration of willow oaks. They also said that Charlotte is the only city that is attempting to eradicate them.

could being "hemmed in by concrete" actually help reinforce the willow oaks stability? also, the trimming of some of the lower branches reduces the top heaviness of the tree as well as it doesn't give the wind much to grab onto. i only say this b/c i think its a pretty rare thing to see one of these trees knocked down in the forementioned neighborhoods. as numerous as these trees are... i don't recall (even during hugo) ever losing too many, considering. whereas when hurricane fran hit the triangle... the campus of duke lost 20 or more of their majestic, old oaks. most of them had never been trimmed and were located in normal ground space settings. when the earth gets soaked and the winds ablowin' these trees will fall quickly.

i am not an arborist, but somewhat of an observationist... i'm just wondering if the trees in myers park (specifically) actually benefit from their location, pruning, and vast numbers?

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could being "hemmed in by concrete" actually help reinforce the willow oaks stability?

The problem for trees in urban areas is compaction - the soil around the roots becomes so dense that they can't function properly and begin to die-off. It is the roots at the surface that do much of the work of 'drinking' and 'eating', so to speak. Another big problem is toxic run-off from the roads and from the crap that people spray on their 'lawns'. The weaker the trees become the more likely they are to be infected by some fungus or insect pest and the less likely they will be able to fight them off. Urban trees have a pretty hard life :(

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Its on the City Concil agenda on Monday to spend $100K to band 3,400 trees in the public ROW and then spend $20K on a public campaign to tell residents to band trees on their private property. I certainly think this is money well spent.

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This Article is an update on the worm situation in that it oddly only exists in certain neighborhoods in Charlotte. The article, like what I posted above, says it may be due to the mono-culture of trees in these neighborhoods.

I would say that for the long term, the city ought to halt replanting Willow Oaks for a couple of decades, and instead go with some other varieties.

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Here is a map from the City that shows the area shaded in beige is where they plan to target the cankerworm with the current campaign. Interestingly enough it does not include Myers Park...it is areas East of downtown up towards the University area.

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There is still just the one vote to let the canker worms win :).

I agree about the variation of tree species, perhaps different streets could be slated for different trees. I know in First Ward, they planted willow oaks on some trees and then some other kind of tree on other streets. It seems that the replanting efforts should have similar diversity.

What are the special traits of Willow Oak that has it used to much? What about others like Poplar?

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From the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission site:

http://www.cmhpf.org/kids/neighborhoods/MyersPark.html

In the winter of 1915-1916 Earle Draper began the project that first made his regional reputation, large scale tree moving. 92 The wealthy J. B. Duke had taken an active interest in the development of Myers Park and offered "to send his foreman who handled many big trees on his New Jersey estate." Draper and the foreman located ten to sixteen inch diameter water oaks and willow oaks out in the country, species chosen by Draper as "the best trees for street use and more resistant to disease than any of the other trees we could use."

...

Mortality rate was extremely low. Nolen reported in 1927 that of one hundred large trees transplanted the first year only one had died. Today in 1983 the trees are at full maturity, and continue to be an outstanding attribute of the neighborhood. The "head start" that they gave Myers Park is still evident. Irving Park in Greensboro, a Nolen design constructed at almost the same time as Myers Park but without tree moving, is today much less luxuriant than the Charlotte suburb.

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Just out curiosity, why do people keep voting in this? The city already spent the money. We get it: almost everyone wants to save the trees. Now please post something interesting instead of just voting and bumping a year-old thread to the top of everyone's view for no reason.

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It is something that occurs every year unless the city is able to eradicate the species, which I think will be next to impossible. So it actually is a fairly relevent issue to Charlotteans, especially since the fall season is fast approaching and worthy of reminding people of the problem.

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I noticed the other day that the shrubs that line 4th Ward Park on the Pine St. side (where the street dead-ends at a small fountain) have been decimated by some kind of nest-building worm. This must have happened pretty much overnight, as I went away for the weekend and came back to find a bunch of brown, dead spots all over the bushes. Pretty nasty looking, especially since this is happening at waist-level right next to the sidewalk rather than up in a tree canopy.

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Someone mentioned to me a few weeks ago the reason that people used to white wash the first few feet of their trees was to prevent these kinds of infestations. It used to be a common sight here in the South, though not so much anymore.

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The fall attack of the cankerworm is upon us. The city arborist briefed the City Council last night, saying that about 73,000 thousand acres within the city are infested with the cankerworms which works out to an estimated 365,000 trees in that area. He recommended doing an aerial spraying of insecticide that was used in the 90's with success because it appears that banding the trees will not be enough.

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I also read that the City Council will vote on funding this spraying 10/8. Hopefully they will vote to spray. Can you imagine Charlotte without its tree canopy?

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I also read that the City Council will vote on funding this spraying 10/8. Hopefully they will vote to spray. Can you imagine Charlotte without its tree canopy?

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The City Council unanimously approved to use $2.8 million from the city's general fund to fight the cankerworm at last night's meeting. Aerial spraying will begin in the spring in addition to increased funding for tree banding.

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A tree canopy of just a few species of trees, mostly the same age and now which can only be maintained by being aerial bombed with chemical poisons and wrapped with nasty glue traps. It's an environmental mess.

It reminds me of unsustainable pretty green lawns too. Note these worms only infest a very small number of tree species, most notably the Willow Oak, and we have the problem now because they made the decision 70 years ago to only plane 2-3 species of trees in the infestation areas instead of a variety. The city should take a more sustainable role in this and let these trees die and re-plant with a variety of trees so that these worms are reduced naturally.

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