Lake Country - Life. The Okanagan Way.

British Columbia, Canada

Dangerous Trees

Lake Country follows the following procedures to identify and determine the action required when assessing dangerous trees in the community.

1. Determine the health of the tree. Is it dead? Is it dying and likelihood of recovery?

2. Determine the cause of the stress or death. Insect infestation? If yes, which insect?Disease? If yes, what type of disease – internal or external?

3. Inspect the area around the tree. Look for evidence of excavation or grade changes. Look for bark damage.

4. Record physical properties of the tree. % of lean. Type of branching, – strong or weak
Presence of included branches and/or co-dominant tops.

5. Record location of the tree, proximity to people or property

6. Identify the species and variety of the tree. Different species represent different risks

7. Determine the value of the tree as a wildlife tree and weigh it against the risk to people and property

Determining the Health of the Tree

Foliage: Pine beetle infested tree may look just fine in the early stages of an attack; by the time the needles are red, the beetles are often gone to the next tree.

Conks: These are the fruiting bodies of fungi that are active within the tree and are a sure sign of advanced rot.

Frass: This ‘saw dust’ is often found around the base of the tree and is a good indicator of a beetle attack.

Pitch Tubes: These are often the first indication that an attack is occurring. The tree tries to repel the beetle by pushing them out using sap or pitch.

Blue Stain Fungus: Even if the tree survives the initial attack by the beetle, a blue stain fungus carried by the beetle usually finishes the tree off by plugging up the vascular system of the tree.

Inspect the area around the Tree: Obviously any excavation around the tree-damages its ability to sustain itself, but also the changing of the soil levels around the tree (i.e. the addition of soil over the top of the root system) can and usually will kill the tree. Whatever the cause of death to the tree, the next step is to determine what course of action to take.

Species and Variety: Not all trees have the same value as wildlife trees. Many species of birds require dead standing trees as nest sites and a food source. Primary cavity nesters such as nuthatches and woodpeckers create cavities in dead trees to serve as nest sites and they as well, get their food source from the many insects that live in the dying or dead tree.

When these primary nest builders move on their nest sites are used by all manner of other birds, owls, bluebirds, flickers and even chipmunks and squirrels. The most valuable trees for this purpose are those that do not rot or weaken quickly. Western Red Cedar may be the best, but so are Pine, Douglas Fir and Larch. The least desirable species would include Poplar, Cottonwood, Chinese Elm and Birch which tend to be water soaked and as such rot quickly and present a high risk to dropping large branches or falling right over.

Physical Characteristics of the Tree: % of Lean. The more the dead tree leans, the more likely it is to fall. Co-dominate tops: A tree may form more than one central leader, when two or more leaders are competing for supremacy. The area of the union between co-dominants is an area of weakness and greatly increases the likelihood of these trees to fracture and send debris to the ground. Included branches are a form of co-dominant tops that present the high risk of failure

Exposure to High Winds/Storms: Consideration of the trees exposure to high wind and storms obviously increase the likelihood of blow down or other failures.

Human /Property Risks: The tree’s proximity to human activity such as walking, trails/paths, beaches, playfields, playgrounds, picnic areas, parking lots or roadways all will determine whether a tree is kept standing as a habitat for wildlife or if it should be removed all together.

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