Jamestown residents observe Arbor Day SaturdayAlthough it has been traditionally celebrated in spring, the observance of Arbor Day in Jamestown has become a fall event. The iffy spring weather was the reason behind the move last year, according to City Forester Vern Quam, but Saturday’s Arbor Day observance proved fall can also be that way. Although the sun was shining on the tree planting at Stutsman County Memorial Museum, the wind and temperature had winter’s touch.
By: Toni Pirkl, The Jamestown Sun
Although it has been traditionally celebrated in spring, the observance of Arbor Day in Jamestown has become a fall event.
The iffy spring weather was the reason behind the move last year, according to City Forester Vern Quam, but Saturday’s Arbor Day observance proved fall can also be that way. Although the sun was shining on the tree planting at Stutsman County Memorial Museum, the wind and temperature had winter’s touch.
Still, Arbor Day is about planting trees and fall is a good time for planting them, Quam said, even in North Dakota. So, despite the less than ideal fall weather, a flowering crab was planted on the boulevard at the museum.
“This is a great time for planting trees. They’re ready to go dormant, so planting in the fall means they don’t have to put energy into putting out leaves,” he said.
Quam said the tree planting this Arbor Day honored the museum for planting trees to replace the American elms struck down by Dutch elm disease. Each year the community loses between 150 and 200 elms to the disease. The museum planted about a half dozen new trees, three of them a new variety of elm.
“We are the first in North Dakota to plant American elms that are elm disease resistant,” said Alden Kollman, representing the museum board.
“This is a true American elm. And because of it, I’m predicting a big elm comeback,” said Dr. Dale Herman, professor of horticulture at North Dakota State University, who was the Arbor Day speaker. The American elm is North Dakota’s state tree.
On behalf of the museum, Kollman earlier accepted the Tree City USA flag from the Shade Tree Committee as recognition of the museum’s planting efforts. This marks Jamestown’s 29th year of involvement in the Tree City USA program. Each year the city receives a new flag, Quam said, and the flag is presented to some person or group to honor those efforts.
“We’ll display it proudly,” Kollman said.
Acknowledging his 52 years of tree planting, this year’s Johnny Appleseed Award went to Tex Weatherly. Weatherly, who worked for the Soil Conservation Service until his retirement in 1994, is credited with involvement in planting more than 1 million trees across Stutsman County through the years.
Since 1994 he’s run a tree planting program. He also chairs the city’s Shade Tree Committee. Quam told the 25 people in attendance at City Hall for the Arbor Day observance that Weatherly’s efforts go beyond trees to other conservation practices in the county, such as grasses, wildlife plantings and ponds.
“I don’t know if I’m deserving of this award, but I do know I’ve been planting trees since 1956,” Weatherly said.
Herman’s presentation covered years of work by the horticulture department at NDSU on expanding the list of tree varieties hardy enough to grow in North Dakota. The university’s horticultural farm and research arboretum have developed 45 new hardy varieties, including birches, willows, lilacs, honey locust, pines, maples and even a magnolia. The department is also responsible for the new disease-resistant American elm.
“The different cultivars offer different features for diversity in the landscape,” Herman said. “Our woody plant research is long term. We’re looking for superior landscape plantings.”
The idea is to broaden the variety of trees available for planting, not only for diversity but to avoid a barren landscape due to the decimation caused by disease. For example, he said, the American elm accounted for 50 to 60 percent of all the tree plantings in the state. It was also the only tree variety at the Lutz Mansion, now home to the Stutsman County Museum.
The next threat is the emerald ash borer, in the Twin Cities and moving west. Herman said it “has the potential to kill every ash tree in the country.”
“My feeling is plant less than 5 percent of the same variety in the landscape,” he said.
Another problem also occurring in the state is trees in rural areas are not reseeding themselves very well, Herman said. According to the North Dakota Forest Service, he said, “75 percent of the forested acreage is at moderate to low regeneration.”
“It’s primarily deer eating the seedlings,” he said. “I’m concerned that if we don’t reduce the wildlife population, will we have an environment for wildlife in the future?”
Sun reporter Toni Pirkl can be reached at (701) 952-8453 or by e-mail at email@example.com