Vinemount Swamp trees suffer second ‘massive die-off’

Community Aug 06, 2015 by Richard Leitner Stoney Creek News

The Hamilton Conservation Authority expects to take about two weeks to clear hazards from a “massive die-off” of trees that has forced it to close the Vinemount Swamp’s boardwalk trail for the second time in the past two years.

Chief administrative officer Chris Firth-Eagland said a track excavator with a lobster-like claw will shear an estimated 200 dead or virtually dead silver maples, white oaks and ashes, victims of drought, damage from an ice storm and pests.

He said the trees’ trunks will be snapped off at various heights and their tops will be left to rot where they fall, an approach that should benefit the swamp forest’s ecology and be more pleasing to the eye.

“It’s not going to be great, anyway. We’re not going in there and planting trees and turning this into something beautiful; we’re responding to a massive die-off,” Firth-Eagland said

“It’s unfortunate, but a tree that is in a state of demise is actually enjoyed by a lot of other species in the natural environment. Caterpillars and ants and all kinds of boring insects and things move in to the trees. A lot of species will use them for making nests.”

Firth-Eagland said although the boardwalk has been off limits since June 1, work to remove the tree hazards could only begin now because the authority had to wait until the nesting season for migratory birds ended.

It’s the second major forest operation since the death of an estimated 100 silver maples and white oaks closed the boardwalk in May 2013 for about eight months.

Firth-Eagland attributed the deaths of the maples and oaks to the stress from a couple of years of extreme drought and an ice storm that snapped off portions of the swamp forest’s canopy.

That allowed in more sunlight and “baked” the shallow roots of trees accustomed to moist conditions, he said.

In the case of the ashes, Firth Eagland said the emerald ash borer is the main culprit, as it is across the city and throughout the authority’s 4,400 hectares of land holdings.

Unless trees pose a public hazard, they’re left alone because the financial burden of removing them would be unbearable, he said, estimating the Vinemount work will cost $10,000 to $12,000.

“It’s not the only place in our watershed where these kinds of things are happening. It happens to be a place where it’s adjacent to the trail on both sides, so it’s much more in our user area, in our face,” Firth-Eagland said.

“We all should be expecting to see these kinds of pockets of die-offs where it’s ash trees. It’s something I think for the next number of years we’ll all have to get used to.”

Vinemount Swamp trees suffer second ‘massive die-off’

Community Aug 06, 2015 by Richard Leitner Stoney Creek News

The Hamilton Conservation Authority expects to take about two weeks to clear hazards from a “massive die-off” of trees that has forced it to close the Vinemount Swamp’s boardwalk trail for the second time in the past two years.

Chief administrative officer Chris Firth-Eagland said a track excavator with a lobster-like claw will shear an estimated 200 dead or virtually dead silver maples, white oaks and ashes, victims of drought, damage from an ice storm and pests.

He said the trees’ trunks will be snapped off at various heights and their tops will be left to rot where they fall, an approach that should benefit the swamp forest’s ecology and be more pleasing to the eye.

“It’s not going to be great, anyway. We’re not going in there and planting trees and turning this into something beautiful; we’re responding to a massive die-off,” Firth-Eagland said

“It’s unfortunate, but a tree that is in a state of demise is actually enjoyed by a lot of other species in the natural environment."

“It’s unfortunate, but a tree that is in a state of demise is actually enjoyed by a lot of other species in the natural environment. Caterpillars and ants and all kinds of boring insects and things move in to the trees. A lot of species will use them for making nests.”

Firth-Eagland said although the boardwalk has been off limits since June 1, work to remove the tree hazards could only begin now because the authority had to wait until the nesting season for migratory birds ended.

It’s the second major forest operation since the death of an estimated 100 silver maples and white oaks closed the boardwalk in May 2013 for about eight months.

Firth-Eagland attributed the deaths of the maples and oaks to the stress from a couple of years of extreme drought and an ice storm that snapped off portions of the swamp forest’s canopy.

That allowed in more sunlight and “baked” the shallow roots of trees accustomed to moist conditions, he said.

In the case of the ashes, Firth Eagland said the emerald ash borer is the main culprit, as it is across the city and throughout the authority’s 4,400 hectares of land holdings.

Unless trees pose a public hazard, they’re left alone because the financial burden of removing them would be unbearable, he said, estimating the Vinemount work will cost $10,000 to $12,000.

“It’s not the only place in our watershed where these kinds of things are happening. It happens to be a place where it’s adjacent to the trail on both sides, so it’s much more in our user area, in our face,” Firth-Eagland said.

“We all should be expecting to see these kinds of pockets of die-offs where it’s ash trees. It’s something I think for the next number of years we’ll all have to get used to.”

Vinemount Swamp trees suffer second ‘massive die-off’

Community Aug 06, 2015 by Richard Leitner Stoney Creek News

The Hamilton Conservation Authority expects to take about two weeks to clear hazards from a “massive die-off” of trees that has forced it to close the Vinemount Swamp’s boardwalk trail for the second time in the past two years.

Chief administrative officer Chris Firth-Eagland said a track excavator with a lobster-like claw will shear an estimated 200 dead or virtually dead silver maples, white oaks and ashes, victims of drought, damage from an ice storm and pests.

He said the trees’ trunks will be snapped off at various heights and their tops will be left to rot where they fall, an approach that should benefit the swamp forest’s ecology and be more pleasing to the eye.

“It’s not going to be great, anyway. We’re not going in there and planting trees and turning this into something beautiful; we’re responding to a massive die-off,” Firth-Eagland said

“It’s unfortunate, but a tree that is in a state of demise is actually enjoyed by a lot of other species in the natural environment."

“It’s unfortunate, but a tree that is in a state of demise is actually enjoyed by a lot of other species in the natural environment. Caterpillars and ants and all kinds of boring insects and things move in to the trees. A lot of species will use them for making nests.”

Firth-Eagland said although the boardwalk has been off limits since June 1, work to remove the tree hazards could only begin now because the authority had to wait until the nesting season for migratory birds ended.

It’s the second major forest operation since the death of an estimated 100 silver maples and white oaks closed the boardwalk in May 2013 for about eight months.

Firth-Eagland attributed the deaths of the maples and oaks to the stress from a couple of years of extreme drought and an ice storm that snapped off portions of the swamp forest’s canopy.

That allowed in more sunlight and “baked” the shallow roots of trees accustomed to moist conditions, he said.

In the case of the ashes, Firth Eagland said the emerald ash borer is the main culprit, as it is across the city and throughout the authority’s 4,400 hectares of land holdings.

Unless trees pose a public hazard, they’re left alone because the financial burden of removing them would be unbearable, he said, estimating the Vinemount work will cost $10,000 to $12,000.

“It’s not the only place in our watershed where these kinds of things are happening. It happens to be a place where it’s adjacent to the trail on both sides, so it’s much more in our user area, in our face,” Firth-Eagland said.

“We all should be expecting to see these kinds of pockets of die-offs where it’s ash trees. It’s something I think for the next number of years we’ll all have to get used to.”