Trees under Threat


(This 855th Buffalo Sunday News column was first published on August 12, 2007.)


One of the Niagara Frontier's blessings has been its trees. Despite losing its lovely American elms to Dutch elm disease and then having its substitute elms attacked by elm bark beetles, the region recovered and before last fall was rich in its horticulture.


File written by Adobe Photoshop® 4.0     File written by Adobe Photoshop® 4.0

Two examples of Buffalo suburb street trees set for removal



But then we had last October's disaster. I recall one estimate shortly after the storm suggesting that the down and damaged trees when removed would fill Bills' stadium several hundred yards deep. I now consider that estimate conservative and many of the trees remaining can best be described as grotesque. I wrote an earlier column about the lovely symmetry of our street trees even in winter; perhaps that column jinxed us.


Doris and I were among those who lost trees: three 70 foot ashes and two 40-foot blue spruces. Our backyard looks like a clear-cut. But compared with some neighbors, I consider us fortunate: our two front yard maples survived with only minor damage.


With the effects of global warming already being felt in our hotter summers, this is not a good time to lose all these trees. I haven't participated in the complaining about tree removal because I think that the real effects won't be felt until next summer after support for removal is terminated. According to horticulturist friends, this year's growth was already stored and ready to go when that October storm hit and next summer will be the real test. If they are correct, it will exacerbate an already bad situation.


We need to replant trees, many of them. I don't need to tell you that trees support wildlife, soak up and store carbon from the atmosphere, and protect us from winter winds as well as summer heat. Or to remind you that fall is a good time to set new trees in your yard.


I'm pleased to see that the Buffalo Audubon Society has joined forces with RPM Ecosystems to sell trees at what appear to me to be a quite reasonable price: $45 for each year old, 4 to 7 foot tree in a 3 gallon pot.


The tree and shub species that may be ordered are red maple, sugar maple, multi-stem shadblow serviceberry, pignut hickory, shellbark hickory, shagbark hickory, buttonbush, Northern redbud, witchhazel, shrubby St. Johnwort, "Henry Garney" Virginia sweetspire, butternut or white walnut, black walnut, sycamore, American plum, black cherry, white oak, swamp white oak, shingle oak, overcup oak, bur oak, Chinkapin oak, cherrybark oak, pin oak, chestnut oak, red oak, staghorn sumac, sassafras, American elm and nannyberry.


The trees must be ordered and pre-paid before September 10 and will be available for pickup on Saturday, September 29 at the Audubon Beaver Meadow Sanctuary in North Java or at Daemen College on Main Street in Snyder. To order trees visit the Audubon website or to obtain more information and an order form call (800)377-1520.


The RPM Ecosystems Nursery is located in Dryden, New York. They grow 240 species of native trees, shrubs and grasses for use in ecological and environmental conservation and restoration planting projects. The RPM doesn't represent the usual revolutions per minute but in this case stands for Root Production Method. The method was originally developed over 20 years ago at the Forrest Keeling Nursery, in Elsberry, Missouri by Wayne Lovelace and others. Authoritative research studies by the University of Missouri Agroforestry Research Center verified the exceptional qualities of RPM trees: that they are reliable, hardy, and naturally adaptable to the climatic conditions of the Eastern U.S. Other studies by The Queen's University and Green Mount College of Agriculture in the United Kingdom concluded that RPM produces tree seedlings of superior quality and improved vigor compared with cell grown and bare root seedlings. According to the company, "Without genetic modification, the patented natural RPM produces trees that grow to maturity three times faster, have a superior survival rate, produce nuts, seeds, and fruits earlier, and create a root biomass as much as eighteen times greater than trees grown using other methods."


Their clients include the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Fish and Wildlife Service, Forest Service and Department of Energy, Ducks Unlimited, and the Wild Turkey Federation.


I urge everyone to plant trees this year and every year.-- Gerry Rising