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Tree removal highlights bark beetle problems

City orders cutting of two infested trees in Jackson Park and on Rand Road

Beetle infested tree at Jackson Park will be removed next week.

Photo by Kirby Neumann-Rea.
Beetle infested tree at Jackson Park will be removed next week.

Trees dying from the widening bark beetle infestation problem in the Gorge will be removed at Jackson Park and on Rand Road this week.

The north section of Jackson Park will be closed Monday and Tuesday (details on A3) and Rand Road from Cascade Avenue south to Montello Avenue will be closed on Wednesday and Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. both days.

The city owns Jackson Park and the Rand Road tree is in the city right-of-way, but private contractors from Hood River will do the tree removal. Columbia Tree Service will have the job in the park, and A Life With Trees will take out the one on Rand. It is located just south of Sherman Avenue on the west side of the street. The 80-foot tree leans over the roadway.

The Jackson Park tree, in the northeast corner of the park, is slightly taller. Both trees show a marked brown color in the crown and upper third of the trunk and branches, known as “top kill,” evidence of deterioration from bark beetles.

The park tree has a twin standing eight feet west, and it will remain, according to city officials.

Other signs of beetle infestation include insect bore holes, orange dust at the base of the tree and large amounts of pitch exuding from the bark and bore holes. Healthy stands of trees can withstand the beetle; however, in conditions of stress – such as this summer’s hot weather — tree mortality can be high, according to Jon Gehrig, wildfire prevention coordinator for Hood River County Fire Services.

Traffic on May and 13th streets will not be affected by the park tree removal, but the park bowl area will be closed all day on Monday and Tuesday, along with the parking area along May Street. The park restrooms, playground and upper lawn will remain open.

The Rand Road tree will be cut down on Wednesday, and the wood stacked nearby. On Friday, the crew will return to chip the branches and remove the wood, causing the second day of closure.

The road remains open on Thursday. Dave Ouzonian of the city public works crew said the 8:30 to 4:30 closure schedule on Wednesday and Friday was designed to avoid interrupting the heavier traffic in the morning and late afternoon.

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While more and more Ponderosa pines throughout the Gorge are dying from the invasive beetles, known as California five-spined ips, there are preventive measures landowners can take.

Gehrig said watering your trees two to three times per month for an hour during the hottest part of the summer will significantly reduce stress levels and make them more resilient to both the five-spined ips and fire. When watering, be sure to water at least 3 feet away from the trunks of established trees, using a soaker house or bubbler to moisten 2-3 feet below the surface of the soil.

For further questions on the California five-spined ips and how to keep your home safe this fire season, contact the Hood River Fire Services Wildfire Prevention Hotline at 541-436-0655 or firemarshal@hoodriverfire.com.

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