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SOS Elms News

Newsletter No. 18, Fall 2004

Past President's Message
Saskatchewan Dutch Elm Disease Association (SDEDA)  Report
SPLIT (Schools Plant Legacy in Trees)
Paddy Tutty, SOS Elms Board Member, performs at True North Wild and Free
Tree Planter wins Nobel Peace Prize

Past President's Message

by Judith Benson

Thank you, members, for your patience! It's been a year since our last SOS Elms News.  You have no doubt been awestruck at our American Elms' beauty this autumn.  I don't remember ever seeing the leaves so golden.  The welcome rain enabled them to remain on the trees longer than usual.  Because their colours did not change simultaneously, gold leaves contrasted with the dark green; the golden leaves fell and then the slower elms turned colour.  The September sun shining through the canopy elms along Clarence Avenue and in the Caswell area were especially glorious.  Did you all probably stake out your favourite showy elm locations to admire and photograph, as I did?

Dutch Elm Disease (DED) continues to threaten elms in Saskatchewan communities, but thankfully it has not yet been detected in Saskatoon.  Nevertheless, SOS Elms has special concern for trees in three key areas of Saskatoon:

 1.  The Gathercole Elms still stand proud, not only as landmarks but as memorials to the old heritage building, which was torn down in early summer.  SOS Elms has addressed City Council several times on this issue.  In response to our presentations last winter and spring the following measures were taken:  plywood boxes built around the two main elms to cushion trunks from falling debris, an order to direct demolition away from elms, and some mulching to protect surface roots from soil impaction by heavy machinery and vehicles.  No one contacted us to say, "Good idea.  We'll see what we can do" but at least some effort was made.

The following is from my most recent presentation to City Council, on September 20th, 2004:

"I hope you have taken time from your busy lives to admire the golden glory that the City's American Elms are displaying this month.  We city dwellers do not have to travel any farther than the Riverbank and older neighbourhoods to enjoy autumn's colours at their finest.  This morning I photographed some of our elm-lined streets as the sun shone through the elm canopies.  They were truly cathedral-like in their brilliance.

The forthcoming Gathercole property investors and developers must be persuaded to appreciate as assets the eight major mature elms that grow at the north end of that property.   One way to accomplish this objective is for Council to include in the terms of reference within imminent sales contracts that it will give priority to those investors and developers who include the preservation of these elms in their offers to purchase.  In the City's most recent tree inventory, these elms received the top rating for tree health by Urban Forestry Technician, Spencer Rossmo, and a collective appraised value of $100,000.

I realize that I am not able to ask questions of Council at this time, but perhaps one of you could give me an answer later this week.  To date, have City planners advised perspective investors that these elms will add monetary and respectable landmark value, as well as all of the other gifts that mature trees provide us (erosion control, beauty, shade with insulating properties, shade for future residents and visitors who will use the grounds, wildlife habitat, heritage character and publicity, noise absorption, exhaust absorption, etc.)?

Those planners and builders who integrate the elms into the total design of the park and buildings will be applauded for their insight.     If the attitude prevails that no measure of control is necessary, that developers can do whatever they wish with this valuable resource, then the City of Saskatoon will lose credibility.  Is it better for our citizens, especially our children, to see the City treat our mature trees with disregard, or with reverence?

Also, in order to impress developers and investors, the City must showcase the Gathercole elms. Sensitive pruning is what these elms require in order to highlight their splendor and prove attractive to developers.

Pruning needs to be done promptly while these elms are in full leaf and most impressive.  During the (past) years of decision-making and site planning, the trees have been neglected.  Now is the time to catch up on their care, and to act with intelligence and sensitivity.   The site is presently unkempt.  Erosion occurs where grass has been bulldozed away.  Even spreading of the piles of unused wood chip mulch over the area will contribute to its appearance in the short term.

If Council includes the above contract condition in its sales agreements and invests in the grooming of the trees and their surroundings, I can see its efforts generating local pride.   A public celebration is preferable to a public demonstration.

At the MVA meeting on October 1st, board member and MLA, Peter Prebble, moved that a three metre space be left for some green landscaping between the sidewalk and proposed storefronts that will line the new street(s) leading down to the hotel and condos which will be built along the riverbank where the Gathercole building used to stand.  No one even seconded the motion to allow discussion, let alone a vote!  Sidewalks will abut storefronts.  Mr. Prebble is cognizant of the value of trees and green landscaping.  I thanked him for his efforts.

The South Downtown architectural plan calls for gardens on the rooftops of the proposed buildings.  The architect's rationale for this is that these expenditures will allow for an attractive aerial view of the site.  In other words, an exclusive segment of society will be offered green amidst the cement on the rooftops!  The MVA board is made up of four people each from the university, government (including Mayor Atchison) and MVA.  Of the twelve only Peter Prebble was willing to speak in favour of quality green space.

Members - please write letters to the StarPhoenix to voice your support for the Gathercole Elms.  Mine appeared on October 7th, 2004.  You may also write to Mr. Rob Tomriama, architect at City Hall.  Tell him how much those trees mean to you.

2.  The superintendent of Woodlawn Cemetery, Ron Laturnas, reports that the 112 elms along Next of Kin Memorial Avenue, the National Heritage Site, received deep watering once each week during the summer unless Mother Nature provided water on scheduled watering days.  The Heritage Site received a City grant last year for removal and replacement of fifteen elms.  Eighty-five hazard elms were removed elsewhere in the cemetery, but not replaced.  He says that, overall, the elms have further deteriorated this year.  Four hundred fifty elms are designated as hazardous (at least 40% dead), but at present funding is not in place for their removal.  If not removed by April 2005, they will be prime targets for DED.  Mr. Laturnas has applied for capital budget funds for tree removal.  His request is at the Departmental level now, and he foresees its going to City Council in early December.  Many of the hazard trees have veteran memorial plaques from loved ones.  I wonder if those loved ones are aware of the state of their own memorial trees.

We are not the only group concerned with these trees.  Jill Thompson, Chairperson of the U of S Plant Disease Sub-council contacted me for names of persons to contact regarding the state of the Woodlawn elms.

3.   Regarding Patterson Gardens, in August, Professor Tom Hughes, Head of U of S Plant Sciences, recommended that it be put on the back burner.  He advised me that until the University has a plan for preserving and conserving this resource, it would be pointless for SOS Elms to make any kind of contribution.  Dr. Hughes plans to retire in June 2005.  A few weeks later Tom Ward, another Plant Sciences professor, phoned me.  His message was that SOS Elm's inquiries have opened up new possibilities for Patterson Gardens.  To his knowledge the Gardens was not a closed issue. He advised me that the University hired a summer student to prune, re-label and do a general clean up.  The Gardens contributed to the success of a university tour during the summer.  We discussed possible ways SOS Elms and the Saskatoon Nature Society could contribute.  The most appealing suggestion was to help develop a picnic area in a space created after removal of diseased birch trees.  Memorial trees could be planted around this picnic area.  He said that the widening of Preston Avenue has not disturbed the Gardens property.

In other news, a highlight of our activities this year was our guided Second Annual Tree Tour of Saskatoon in June.  We have updated our self-guiding booklet which goes with the Tree Tour. It is available at Libraries, MVA, Dutch Growers, Steephill Food Co-op and the Forestry Farm.  At our Board meeting on October 20th Saskatoon Centennial Committee Chair, Lenore Swystun,  joined us.  We discussed how our ideas fit into plans by other organizations to celebrate the 100th birthdays of Saskatchewan in 2005 and Saskatoon in 2006.    It was a productive meeting, thanks to Lenore's energy and inspiration.  If you have ideas for celebrating our urban forest during these Centennial years, please phone me at 653-4339.

Thank you to our loyal members and Saskatchewan Environment for your continued support.  Special thanks to Irene and Kerry Moffat for their many years of support for SOS Elms and for hosting of our Board meetings in their home.  Irene has resigned from the Board but will continue to assist our activities where she can.

We are proud to have no DED in Saskatoon.  Other areas have had outbreaks, but we are blessed with relatively healthy trees.  Owners of American elms: please note that pruning, by a qualified arbourist, can be done from now to April next year.  Since the cankerworm population has remained low in Saskatoon, tree banding was not recommended this year.

Saskatchewan Dutch Elm Disease Association (SDEDA)  Report

By Sheri O'Shaunessy, Executive Director

DED awareness and education has continued to be one of the SDEDA's main focuses in 2004.  The SDEDA strives to reach those that are still very unaware of the dangers and seriousness of DED.

In conjunction with SOS Elms and Saskatchewan Environment, the SDEDA has been running a "Symptoms" and a "Firewood" video on CTV, Global, and CBC television throughout the province.  We have also concentrated more effort with paid advertising of these videos in the Regina area, which has always been a "hot spot" for DED.  Participation in trade shows has also been a top priority; with attendance at the UMASS trade show, the Moose Jaw Exhibition, and the Integrated Vegetation Management Associations Field Day and seminar.

The Schools Plant Legacies In Trees (SPLIT) program began as a pilot project in the fall of 2003 and culminated with two very successful planting events at Westmount and Bishop Roborecki Schools in Saskatoon.  The SDEDA is currently working on expanding this program around the province and is in the process of developing partnerships with several corporations and industry to make this a reality.

The SDEDA has also been working with SaskPower, to assist them in the development of a revised pruning course that will allow them to meet the requirements of the training recommended in the revised DED regulations.  I have been providing presentations to SaskPower to help promote awareness and education about DED and management within the province.

Progress continues to be made in 2004 to move closer to a completion of the revised DED regulations.  The regulations are ready to go to the Legislative Instruments Committee.  We are very pleased with the progress that is being made and are anticipating the completion of the regulations in the near future.  The SDEDA is currently working on an implementation strategy for the regulations to ensure continued advancement in the management of DED within Saskatchewan.

The goals for 2005 are to continue to promote education and awareness of Dutch Elm Disease around the province of Saskatchewan, strive to increase funding for educational programs (e.g. SPLIT), and to build a more comprehensive DED program that would assist smaller communities across the province.

SPLIT (Schools Plant Legacy in Trees)

by Michelle Chartier

This spring SOS Elms participated in an exciting new tree planting initiative called SPLIT (Schools Plant Legacy in Trees). The partners in this initiative included the City of Saskatoon, the Saskatchewan Forestry Association, Saskatchewan Dutch Elm Disease Association, the Kiwanis Club, and both Westmount Community School and Bishop Roborecki Elementary School. Funding for the project came from various sources including grants from the Saskatoon Foundation, Toyota Evergreen, Saskatchewan Outdoor Environmental Education Association, and the City of Saskatoon Cash Grant. There were many donations including $1000 from SOS Elms and numerous in-kind donations from local businesses.

SPLIT started with organized visits to both schools by speakers presenting forestry related topics such as tree insects and diseases, soils, climate change, and landscape design. In April students from both schools attended an interactive trade show. Various organizations set up displays and demonstrations at Vic Rempel Yards. Students had the opportunity to see tree work, pruning/climbing demonstrations, participate in interactive forestry displays, and tour the Civic greenhouse operation. One of the highlights for many students was taking a spruce seedling home. The day was a great success!

Students from the Kiwanis Builders Club at both schools took on the leadership role in the project. They also assisted with the development of the landscape plan for their respective school and all the students at each school took part in the planting day activities. This planting day included a formal program with speeches from various dignitaries followed by a large tree spade planting demonstration. After the formalities the students and community volunteers rolled up their sleeves to participate in the hard work of planting the trees and shrubs. When all the planting was complete there was a barbeque to celebrate the successful event.

If you want to see the results of SPLIT 2004 visit the west side of Westmount School or Parc Canada adjacent to Bishop Roborecki School where the planting took place. You'll appreciate the result of the students' hard work. SPLIT will truly leave a planting legacy for future generations to enjoy.

In the end we hope the SPLIT project, by involving young people, will result in the whole community enjoying the benefits of trees and that their participation will increase the awareness of the importance of trees and our environment. Thanks to SOS Elms for being an important part of this worthwhile project!

Paddy Tutty, SOS Elms Board Member, performs at True North Wild and Free

"It was a hand-clapping, eye-popping, foot-stomping night of boreal entertainment in Saskatoon's Broadway Theatre on November 11, 2004. It was also a time to rejoice, resolve and get ready for action, as 400 enthusiastic participants became part of True North Wild and Free of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) Boreal Forest Campaign. CPAWS Saskatchewan was pleased to have a full house, and overwhelmed by the level of enthusiasm for our cause beyond the music, pictures and words of those on stage. If we can infect everyone in Saskatchewan with the same enthusiasm we had in the theatre, the boreal in Saskatchewan will be safe forever.

"James Raffan put the best of his academic and entertainment background to the fore and worked magic with the crowd. He was ably assisted by authors Candace Savage, Laurel Archer and Ken Carriere, participants from the Boreal Rendezvous canoe trip on the Churchill River and Courtney Milne who shared a story about his trip down the Bonnet Plume in the Yukon. Another highlight of the evening was a set by Paddy Tutty, a Saskatoon based folk singer who matched the mood perfectly with her songs, each of which had a connection to the forest."

Congratulations to Paddy for her generous and talented support to this important cause!  Paddy also performed at SOS Elms' "Backyard to Boreal Forest" Conference in 1994.  That conference was SOS Elms' first major event, and it brought together people and groups concerned for both the urban and the northern forest.

Boreal forest, which occupies about two thirds of Saskatchewan, wraps around the entire northern hemisphere like a green cloak. Overall it makes up almost 11 per cent of the Earth's total surface, and it is the world's biggest terrestrial ecosystem.  Like the tropical rain forest of the southern hemisphere, the boreal forest is being rapidly depleted, threatening the long-term health and stability of our planet's biosphere.

For more information on how you can help the boreal forest please check out the CPAWS Saskatchewan web site.


Tree Planter wins Nobel Peace Prize

(from Globe and Mail, Oct. 9th, 2004)

On October 8th Wangari Maathai became the first African woman to be awarded the Nobel Prize.  She is also the first person in the 103-year history of the Nobel Prize to be recognized specifically for environmental activism.  Ms. Maathai has been directly or indirectly responsible for the planting of about 30 million trees across Africa, as she struggles to break the vicious cycle of deforestation and poverty that plagues rural areas.




SOS Elms News

Newsletter No. 17, Fall 2003

President's Message
SDEDA Workshop at Buffalo Pound Lake
Saskatoon Tree Tour
Saskatoon Nature Society Tree Tour
City of Saskatoon Urban Forestry for Schools
News Release Re: Cankerworms (September 23, 2003)
there's a tree -  poem by Don Kerr
Update on the Rendek Elm Forest
Update from the Saskatchewan Dutch Elm Disease Association

 PRESIDENT’S MESSAGE    by Judith Benson

  I think that I shall never see a poem as lovely as a tree . . .
(from the poem by J. Kilmer, who was killed by a sniper’s bullet during the First World War).

We are grateful to all members who find themselves inspired by our stately elms.  Art, poetry, prose, photos and song are welcome.   In this issue is a poem written by U of S English Professor and long time SOS Elms member Don Kerr.

The Saskatoon Tree Tour was undoubtedly the highlight of our SOS Elms activities for 2003.  On June 7th chief guide Glenn Gustafson set off with a bus load of keen participants. On and off the bus, he introduced us to each of the special trees and sites, which he embellished with its history and lore.  Robert White and several other members of the Baha’i Community joined in the tour and the barbeque that followed.  The weekend marked the 21st anniversary of the death of Richard St. Barbe Baker, and Robert led us in paying tribute in front of the last tree Barbe Baker planted, a poplar near the Diefenbaker Canada Centre where our tour ended.  We are grateful to employees at the Centre for cooperating with our tour; and to Rae Hearn, Doug, Brad, and Bo Mitchell for planning the barbeque, cooking and serving.

Saskatoon Tree Tour booklets, A guide to the unique and unusual trees of Saskatoon, written by Glenn and hot off the press, were given to participants. These guidebooks have since been widely distributed around town.   If members need additional copies, they are available free at city libraries, Meewasin Valley Centre, or from SOS Elms.  In August Richard Kerbes led a mini Tree Tour for the Saskatoon Nature Society.

Two public service TV ads about Dutch Elm Disease (DED) are now running to further our goals to raise public awareness of this disease and its control. Sheri O’Shaughnessy, of SDEDA (Saskatchewan Dutch Elm Disease Association) advised that between July 10th and August 31st, her office received 518 calls from viewers expressing concern about various trees in response to our ad, which publicizes the provincial 1-800-SASKELM line.  SOS Elms is grateful to Steve Hyde of Saskatchewan Environment, Global Television, and CTV for their support in making these videos for TV.

SOS Elms directors continue to keep in touch with Council and Staff of the City of Saskatoon regarding the health of our urban forest, which is unfortunately declining.  The pruning of American Elms has greatly improved over the past ten years but drought has put stress on these and other species. With the inevitable aging of spruce and Manitoba Maple, and continued incurable infestation of birches by the Bronze Birch Borer, improved care of our urban trees is more important than ever.

Woodlawn Cemetery and its 3,000 American Elms became the focus of our concern in late summer.  We got word that the trees there were in especially bad shape, in need of both watering and pruning.  An infection of DED there could become uncontrollable in such a large concentration of elms.   Woodlawn’s most critically important stand of elms line both sides of Next of Kin Memorial Avenue, which is a National Historic Site (see Robert White’s article below).  When I visited in early September five or six of those Avenue elms had already died and had been replaced.  The slender new elms were watered and mulched, but the large old elms continued to be neglected.  I wrote three letters to City Council in September.  They were acknowledged but not acted upon, so in early October I went directly to the Superintendent of Woodlawn Cemetery strongly urging him to deep water these elms before freeze-up, to increase their chance of survival come spring.     I finally received word that a contractor was to do the deep watering on October 29th – and we were hoping to mark Remembrance Day with a newsletter article reporting a successful fall watering of the Memorial elms.  However, I received no word on the designated day, so began leaving phone messages.  One week later my deepest concerns were confirmed.  The below freezing temperatures on the evening of the 29th had halted plans for watering.  Although the ground remained unfrozen, word was that the contractors’ hoses would not be effective in cold weather.  The Superintendent assured me that the elms will be deep watered in “early spring”. . .

We thank Saskatchewan Environment and The Saskatoon Foundation for financial support for the past year. Special thanks to all SOS Elms members (about 100 of us) for your continued support, donations, and caring.

The SOS Elms Board remains strong and cohesive.  Irene and Kerry Moffatt host most meetings in their home, where we enjoy a cozy environment and Irene’s fantastic homemade dainties.  Last spring Bronco Skorupan resigned from our board due to other pressing demands on his time.  Bronco, an independent and certified arborist, had been on our board for many years and is an invaluable adviser.  He also contributed his pruning services as a prize in our raffle fund-raisers.  We welcome new board members, and invite you to consider jumping on board.  We are making a difference, slowly but surely.  We began in 1992 and thus far no DED in Saskatoon!   Please let us know what initiatives you would like to see us develop for further promotion of elm awareness.  All ideas are welcome.


Saskatoon Tree Tour

By Robert White

This article is adapted from Robert’s report which appeared in the Neighborhood Express last June, with further recent reflections from Robert.

A new guidebook to Saskatoon’s tree heritage was launched by SOS Elms with a bus tour on Saturday, June 7th, 2003.  About fifty enthusiastic participants were escorted by the author of the guide, Glenn Gustafson. This tour of the city’s most interesting, beautiful, unusual and historical trees begins at Canada’s last remaining arboreal monument to war veterans, in Woodlawn Cemetery.   Started in 1923 and known as Next-of-Kin Memorial Avenue, it includes 1219 American Elms dedicated to veterans of all wars. Such memorials were established across Canada, but this is the only remaining one. It was designated as a National Historic Site in 1993.

A major stop on the tour is Patterson Gardens, which features nearly 600 varieties of trees and shrubs, many of them unique to Saskatoon. Maintained by the U of S Department of Horticulture, which provided expert guides for our visit, the Gardens are at the corner of Preston and College.  They are open to the public and anyone thinking of planting trees would do well to check out the many possibilities demonstrated in these gardens. They are a delight to any one who appreciates trees.

A unique stop on the tour is the last tree planted by Richard St. Barbe Baker who was known as "The Man of the Trees". This dynamic man influenced the protection of the giant redwoods in California, the replanting of large areas in northern Africa, and stimulated a new direction for forest conservation on a global scale. He founded “The Men of the Trees”, a conservation organization which became active in 108 countries. A prolific writer, he recorded his experiences in some thirty books.

This real life tree hero attended the U of S from 1909-1913 and his life's work brought him back to receive an honorary doctorate in 1971.  At the age of 91, while visiting Saskatoon in 1982, St. Barbe, as his friends called him, planted a tree near the Diefenbaker Canada Centre. He died three days later, and his body was buried in Woodlawn Cemetery. He is an example of what one person can achieve in a lifetime and to this end the Baha’i Community of Saskatoon is planning an historical marker at the site.

The tree tour demonstrates that uncommon species such as Ohio Buckeye, Dropmore and American Linden, Amur Corktree, Hackberry, Black Walnut, Lodgepole and Swiss Stone Pine and even Douglas Fir can do well here.  The tour also highlights the importance of a comprehensive DED management plan if we are to save the 100,000 American Elms which grace our older streets and boulevards.

Six members of the Baha'i community participated in the Tree Tour - some out of interest in trees and some out of curiosity. The tour was enjoyed by all and of course the celebration of Richard St. Barbe Baker's life was appreciated. As a long time Baha'i, who frequently visited Saskatoon, he had influenced many of us in our career choices and interest in ecology.   May Cummings, one of the participants wrote the following in the Baha'i community newsletter:  "Now I am not an outdoor type yet through participation in this tour I found myself delighted to spend the time with people who truly cared about the world we live in and had found their own path to improve upon it. For me they were inspiring and I found out that there is a lot of good being done out there! …and how crucial trees are for human survival …I had a super day!  Personal connections made will no doubt continue.  A wonderful crowd! A beautiful city!  Precious trees!  …Since I am a high school teacher, I gave copies of the booklet to the science teachers and they seemed very interested."

This report is a good reflection of the joy and excitement we all felt.  It was particularly special to have David Van Vliet from Winnipeg on the tour as it was he who had helped arrange St. Barbe Baker's visit to Saskatoon and had organized the planting of the tree by the Diefenbaker Canada Centre.


Saskatoon Nature Society Tree Tour

By Richard Kerbes

On Sunday morning, August 17th 2003 I led a tree tour for a small intrepid assemblage of tree enthusiasts from the Saskatoon Nature Society.  It was a knowledgeable and appreciative group, including a woman from Germany who was taking her summer holidays in the Saskatoon area!  Using Glenn Gustafson’s self guiding booklet to the Tree Tour, we visited Woodlawn Cemetery, Patterson Gardens and as many sites as time would allow.  Everyone enjoyed the tour, and planned to be back, on their own, to visit all the sites and trees.

October 13th found me back at Woodlawn Cemetery with the Saskatoon Nature Society on their annual Thanksgiving visit there.  Due to somewhat odd weather patterns this fall, we did not see many birds. Most local summer residents had gone south, while birds coming from further north to winter here had not yet arrived.  The cemetery’s White-tailed Jackrabbits, already turning white, were out in force, and we were pleased to see both Red-breasted and White-breasted Nuthatches.   Our group saw first hand what was happening to the trees in the cemetery, and I sought the naturalists’ support in SOS Elms’ efforts to improve the situation, as outlined by Judith Benson above.

SDEDA Workshop at Buffalo Pound Lake, June 19th 2003

By Judith Benson

My session was called “Community Action:  Options for Building DED Awareness in Your Community.”   I set up my display on a workbench, complete with tools and sawdust.  Very rustic, but the participants didn’t seem to notice.  They responded enthusiastically and asked questions I was able to answer - my favorite kind of audience!

I either displayed, described or handed out our SOS Elms material, including brochures, before and after DED photos, map of SK showing sites of DED, “Home Owner’s Guides to Elm Care and DED Prevention in SK”, newsletters, membership forms, “Elm P.I. Program and Journal”, “Fungus Among Us,” tee-shirts, videos, and our Elm Tree costume to share and wear for public relations events

I showcased SOS Elms’ activities and accomplishments, including our web site, lobbying, raffles, displays, educational efforts, Saskatoon Tree Tour, Largest Elm Contest, Adopt an Elm Campaign, and our urban forest conference.  By the time I covered about half the items on my list, my time was up, and lunch beckoned.  Participants were grateful for the many ideas that have made SOS Elms a well-known organization throughout the province.  I hope they have been able to use some of them in their communities to maintain DED awareness and interest.

City of Saskatoon Urban Forestry for Schools

By Michelle Chartier

This summer, staff from our Urban Forestry planting crew had the opportunity to work on new planting projects in partnership with two schools and a community group.  These initiatives emphasized tree diversity and public education, which are key strategies in successful DED prevention programs.

In the first project we worked with kindergarten to grade eight students to plant twenty-seven trees around the perimeter of St. John’s school. The project was initiated when Bonnie Kraus, the school liaison, contacted our Parks Branch to request trees for their schoolyard. After meeting with Bonnie we decided that involving the students in the project would likely foster pride and ownership of the trees. Vandalism can sometimes be a problem in or near school grounds and we wanted the students to protect and care for the trees.

On the planting day each class, from kindergarten to grade eight, came out to plant a mix of bur oak, green ash, and Manitoba maple. We took the opportunity to talk to the students about why trees are important in the city, how to plant trees, and what needs to be done to care for the trees. It was a nice day to be outside and the students were very enthusiastic about the task at hand.

We also worked with the grade six class at the Saskatoon French School where we assisted with their schoolyard planting plans. Monsieur Lucien Deux, the grade six teacher, asked for some assistance and urban forestry expertise for their project. They wanted to beautify the entrance of their school. We were invited to visit his classroom where we discussed planting plans, tree species selection, tree quality and maintenance. We also had the opportunity to talk to the students about DED and the impact it could have on the urban forest. We used SDEDA’s “There’s a Fungus Among Us” as a resource for part of our presentation.

In both these planting projects the City and the school are sharing the responsibility of watering the trees. The school is looking after the watering in the spring and fall and our Forestry crew takes over the watering in July and August when school is out.

Another new planting initiative was a result of a Food Charter proposal that was presented to our City Council in the fall of 2002. One of the key elements of the Food Charter is to encourage community gardens, urban agriculture, and the recycling of organic materials that nurture the soil. Incorporating fruit trees in the urban forest of Saskatoon was listed as one of the ways to achieve their goals. As a result of this initiative our forestry staff worked with representatives from CHEP (Child Hunger Education Program) to coordinate the planting of seven fruit trees around two community gardens. The assortment included Norkent, Patterson, and September Ruby apple trees and Carmine Jewel and Evans sour cherries.

News Release Re: Cankerworms (September 23, 2003)

The City of Saskatoon's Urban Forestry Section advises residents that banding for cankerworms should not be necessary this year. Surveys conducted by the City's Pest Management Unit have indicated that cankerworm populations remain very low.

Tree banding will not be effective against the leaf rollers that were abundant throughout Saskatoon this past summer. Unlike the adult female cankerworm, the female leaf roller moth has wings and banding will not control them. Bands also trap spiders that are potential predators of all types of young caterpillars.


there's a tree
by Don Kerr


there's a tree 

between one thing and another 
there's a tree 

it's where the air cleans its teeth 

the tree holds its head 
against the sun 
and makes shade 
 it hears the chain saws coming 
and shakes in the wind 

it's not aggressive but it is 
leeching  light  water 
rooting about 

hides in its branches an assortment 
of small and large life 

between one thing and another 
there's a tree 

the air passes through it 
like water 

the tree is not a man 
it has no use for rhetoric 
or the fall of man 
it hasn't a vindictive bark 
in its body 

when it shakes its leaves 
it's not planning to attack 
another tree or cut 
down human beings 

between one thing and another 
there's still a tree 


Update on the Rendek Elm Forest

By Diether Peschken

Rendek Elm Forest is being ravaged by Dutch Elm Disease with 25-30% of the American Elms dead.  Stewards Moe Alain and Alex Rendek keep the trails in good shape by removing fallen trees.  Yet the Sanctuary is still beautiful and the Ostrich Fern luxuriant.  An under story of Manitoba Maple and Balsam Poplar is growing vigorously to fill the gaps.  Near the small parking lot is a picturesque opening onto the Red Deer River where we listened to the Song Sparrow and where we spotted Greater Yellowlegs and the Belted Kingfisher.  Rendek Elm Forest was alive with birdsong, and we easily identified 16 bird species by sight or sound.  Especially the White-throated Sparrow filled the air with his melodies.  Smooth Sweet Cicely frequently adorned the trails.

Editor’s note: The above is from Diether’s report, which appeared in Nature Views, Fall 2003, regarding a June 24th 2003 Nature Saskatchewan field trip.  Moving in from the east, DED continues its inexorable rampage through the native wild American Elms in the valleys of eastern Saskatchewan, now hitting the Rendek Elm Forest near Hudson Bay SK.  SOS Elms members may recall previous Newsletter articles about this Forest.  In 1997 Allan R. Smith wrote an article of concern, and that summer I organized a tour there, just before DED was first detected.  In our last Newsletter Linda Moskalyk reported on a sad visit which she made to the Forest last summer (RK).

Update from the Saskatchewan Dutch Elm Disease Association

Sheri O'Shaughnessy, Executive Director SDEDA

It has been a busy summer and fall at the SDEDA with a great deal of our efforts focusing on education and awareness.  It speaks volumes about our efforts when it is realized how many people know about the disease and how to care for elm trees.

Over the past few months a great deal of our time has been spent on communication and awareness of DED.  In conjunction with SOS Elms and Saskatchewan Environment, the SDEDA has been running a "Symptoms" and a "Firewood" video on CTV, Global and CBC television throughout the province.  We have also concentrated on paid advertising of these videos in the Regina area, which has always been a "hot spot" for DED.  Participation in the trade shows has also been a top priority, with attendance at PFRA Field Days, Buffalo Days, and AG Education in the Classroom.  Presentations to elementary schools are underway, with some very enthusiastic listeners.

The SDEDA has also been working with SaskPower to assist them in the development of a revised pruning course that will allow them to meet the requirements of the training recommended in the revised DED regulations.

Progress continues to be made in 2003 to move closer to a completion of the revised DED regulations.  The regulations have been through one round of drafting and will be submitted later this year for a second consideration.  We are very pleased with the progress that is being made and are anticipating the completion of the regulations in the near future.  The SDEDA is currently working on an implementation strategy for the regulations to ensure continued advanct in the management of DED in Saskatchewan.



Newsletter No. 16, Spring 2003

President's Message by Judith Benson
Cankerworm Banding Study by Dr. Susan Kaminskyj
City of Saskatoon News Release: Remove Cankerworm Bands
Saskatchewan Environment - DED Management  by Glenn Gustafson
Alberta Steals Glenn  by Richard Kerbes


by Judith Benson

Our organization continues to thrive, thanks to a strong Board of Directors, a dedicated membership and generous support from The Saskatoon Foundation, Saskatchewan Environment, Meewasin Valley Authority, and the City of Saskatoon.  Since December, we have found the City's largest elm, worked on a public service announcement video, improved our web site, presented and staffed a display at Gardenscape, planned a tree tour, and re-addressed concerns to City Council.

On a sad note, we are saying farewell to Glenn Gustafson, Executive Director of the Saskatchewan Dutch Elm Disease Association (SDEDA).  Glenn has supported SOS Elms since its inception eleven years ago.  He has attended our monthly Board meetings, consulted closely with our presidents and initiated numerous activities to raise public appreciation of our American elms and awareness of Dutch Elm Disease (DED).  Glenn has been an inspiration and creative force to me as president.  We extend our thanks for his great efforts on our behalf along with our good wishes to him in his new job in Alberta, where he starts this month (see article below).  Glenn will return for our Tree Tour (see article below) on June 7th  and he has advised that  his worthy replacement with SDEDA is Sheri O'Shaughnessy.  We will feature her in our next newsletter.

We congratulate Terry Beebe for finding the  largest American elm in Saskatoon.  He led us to the champion, with a circumference of 12' 8.5" (3.87 m), in front of 216 Poplar Crescent.  His television interview with the media and several of our intrepid board members at the tree was most informative. That event, on a crisp (- 34 C) January morning, concluded our "Trees of Renown" contest.

Many thanks to Terry Tosh and Craig at Global Television for continuing to work with us to perfect a video on the topic of the signs of DED.  We hope that it will be aired on Global and other local television networks beginning in June.

A big thank you to Paddy Tutty, for keeping our web site up to date.  She not only sings as beautifully as our spring birds, but she's computer literate, as well!  Please check our site out at: where you'll find our Home Owner's Guide to Elm Care, previous newsletters, upcoming events, and much more.

Linda Moskalyk organised our Gardenscape display with a fine roster of volunteers to staff our booth.  She and Glenn did the set up and take down.  Thanks to all who helped to spread the word during this delightful event.

The First Annual Saskatoon Tree Tour will be held on June 7, starting at 10 AM from the Diefenbaker Centre on campus.  We are holding the tour in honour of Richard St. Barbe Baker, pioneer of a global sustainable forest, also known as "Man of the Trees."  He planted his last tree on the Centre grounds.  Following the bus tour we will hold a bar-b-que there, and the public is invited to attend a St. Barbe Baker slide show inside the Centre as well. Glenn, Paddy, Rae Hearn and Doug Mitchell and I have enjoyed planning the tour as a public awareness event and fund raiser for SOSE.

In February last year our acting president Stephanie Laverty made a presentation to Saskatoon City Council, thanking them for improving tree care in the City, but also urging them to improve the program.  On May 2 this year, I wrote to the Mayor and Council to remind them of issues brought to light last year that need revisiting:  (1) assisting homeowners with care of elms on their property; (2) management of buffer zones around the City; (3) pruning City elms in parks, golf courses, along back lanes, shelterbelts, the campsite and cemetery; and (4) planting more trees to sustain a healthy urban forest.  We hope to have a positive response for the next newsletter.

Thank you members for your patience in awaiting this newsletter.  We get out them out as often as our busy volunteers can manage.  Richard Kerbes and Kathy Meeres have taken  responsibility for this newsletter from Glenn.  Many thanks.

I hope to see a great number of members at our AGM on Thursday, June 26, 7:30-9:00 PM at the Albert Community Centre, Room 13.  We hope to arrange for a speaker to talk about the state of our urban forest from a management perspective.  Refreshments will be served.  Bring your friends and neighbours.  Consider running for the Board.  Thank you for your continued support, and remember to get those cankerworm bands down now (see following articles).

The budding twigs spread out their fan,
To catch the breezy air;
And I must think, do all I can,
That there was pleasure there.

William Wordsworth 1798


“Cankerworm” is the common name for two types of moth that can severely damage trees such as American elm.  Being wingless, adult females must crawl up the bark of trees to lay their eggs in the canopy.  Cankerworm caterpillars, along with many other insects, eat leaves. In the 1990s, cankerworms were a severe problem in the Saskatoon area, leading to widespread use of sticky bands as a control measure, which was successful at reducing populations.  The leafroller caterpillar is still annoyingly abundant, and damages the leaves of many trees, particularly maples.  Unfortunately, adult female leafrollers have wings, so banding does not control them.

Over the past two years, University of Saskatchewan Profs. Susan Kaminskyj and Jim Basinger have been monitoring what is being captured on these bands, as well as studying the remaining caterpillar populations.  They compared three sites: 1) the centre of Campus, where most trees are elms, all of which are banded,  2) Woodlawn Cemetery, where no trees are banded, and insect control is by spraying (last done five years ago),  3) boulevard trees in the residential area south of campus, where some trees are banded.

Only two cankerworm females were caught on a total of almost a hundred bands monitored last spring.  Surprisingly, similar populations of cankerworm caterpillars were found at all three sites, suggesting that some adult females are avoiding the bands.  However, each band also caught hundreds of tiny spiders, which are predators on small insects. In addition to harming spider populations, banding can cause bark rot by trapping moisture.  Since cankerworm populations are extremely low, we suggest that banding is not warranted in the foreseeable future.

City of Saskatoon News Release:  Remove Cankerworm Bands

May 6, 2003 - The City of Saskatoon wishes to remind residents that now is the time to remove any bands used for trapping Cankerworm moths. Leaving the band on the tree over the summer can damage the bark by trapping moisture.

The City also advises that banding should not be necessary this year. Surveys by the City's Pest Management unit, and by Professor Susan Kaminskyj from the Department of Biology at the University of Saskatchewan, have indicated that Cankerworm populations are very low.

Tree banding will not be effective against the leafrollers that were abundant throughout Saskatoon last summer, since the female leafroller moth has wings and banding will not control them. Bands trap spiders that are potential predators of all types of young caterpillars. For more information:

Jeff Balone 
Pest Management Supervisor 
Infrastructure Services Department 
City of Saskatoon     975-2766
Dr. Susan Kaminskyj 
Department of Biology 
University of Saskatchewan   966-4422



As another summer approaches, Saskatchewan Environment prepares for another season of DED control in the province.  Once again Bioforest Technologies Inc. will be doing surveillance in 43 selected communities across the province.  In addition, the communities of Pilot Butte, White City and Emerald Park will be surveyed by Schneider Bros. bringing the total number of surveyed communities to 46.  Surveillance in the buffer zones of Regina, Fort Qu'appelle and Estevan will again commence in the third week of August.  The Crop Protection Lab in Regina will continue to test elm samples for DED from our crews, the public and various communities.

Removals of diseased trees from the first round of surveillance will begin by July 23rd and hopefully be completed by July 31st.   DED infected trees from the second round of surveillance will be removed in the fall beginning in October along with the buffer zone removals.

The Provincial DED Program has obtained a summer student through the federal Centennial Summer Student program which shares the cost.  This student will be a great asset to the program by helping during our busiest time of the year.  The student will also help to expand Moose Jaw's buffer by assisting with surveillance in that community.

The recent provincial budget saw no change to DED funding.  The number of cost-share communities is expected to remain at 33 for the 2003 budget year. Communities in the cost-share program are pleased to receive assistance from the government to assist in protecting their trees against DED.

Program developments for 2003 include a further expansion of the Regina buffer as the inventory will be expanded to include the area NE of the city. As a result of the expanded Regina buffer in 2002, 14 new properties were found to have DED. The program also intends to increase public awareness of the firewood and pruning ban by targeting advertising in communities where there has been high number of infractions.  The Saskatchewan Environment DED web site is also under renovation so keep posted for changes in the upcoming months at  The web site will be made more informative and appealing making it a useful tool in awareness and education.

Although the overall level of DED decreased in 2002, it is important to continue the fight against the disease.  Continued awareness and attention by all is needed to prevent the further spread of DED.



As our President has noted above, Glenn Gustafson, a important friend and defender of the community trees of Saskatchewan, is moving to Alberta.   Glenn became active on the SOS Elms board in the mid-90s.  He led a major campaign to obtain private corporate support for our activities. 

Drawing on his background with Meewasin Valley Authority, he brought new ideas and action to our board, such as contributing a great deal to a completely new and colourful display for public events. After accepting a position with the SDEDA, Glenn resigned from our board, but he remained a solid supporter, adviser, and occasional contractor.  His recent contributions include the production and distribution of our Home Owners’ Guide to Elm Care, the tree contest, and the creation of the upcoming Saskatoon Tree Tour (see articles above).

Glenn, we sincerely thank you for all you have done for our Coalition and for the SDEDA.   Although we much regret losing you, we congratulate you on winning your new full-time job with Alberta Environment in environmental education.  Based in Stony Plain, with your region extending to Edson, you will be closer to forests, mountains, and ocean.  We wish you great success in your new job, and we know you’ll be enjoying the telemark skiing, the sea kayaking and all your new adventures out there.

Newsletter No. 15, Winter 2002-03

President's Message - Judith Benson
New Home Owners' Guides on the Way
A Visit to the Rendek Elm Forest - Linda Moskalyk
New Video Ad Underway
Alberta DED Program Report 2002 - Janet Feddes-Calpas
Slow Spread Spells Success – The Status of DED in Saskatchewan - Glenn Gustafson
Tree Distribution Program Much Appreciated in Communities

President’s Message
 - Judith Benson

There was a time when meadow, grove, and stream
The earth, and every common sight,
To me did seem
Appareled in celestial light
The glory and the freshness of a dream.

William Wordsworth, 1807

SOS Elms Coalition was founded upon our members sharing a common regard for Saskatchewan’s American elms.  Wordsworth’s use of past tense in the above lines reflects his observation of changes in the natural world he depended upon for inspiration.  Although the changes have multiplied over the past two hundred years, nature’s legacy to us is ever present in earth’s stately, mature trees.  I was fortunate to visit Michigan, Illinois and Oregon this year; and my husband, Geoff, and I visited England, France and Ireland in September. Last spring, Geoff and I walked along an elm-lined street bordering Chicago’s lake shore. In July, my son and I revisited the two and three-hundred year old American elms in the quadrangle of his alma mater, the University of Michigan Law School.  The crunching sounds and earthy smell of Oregon maple leaves underfoot, provided the perfect atmosphere for the first-trick-or-treat night I have been able to spend with my granddaughters.  As I photographed unique trees during my travels, I felt an appreciation of how trees instill world unity and personal security.  These giants of nature overwhelmed me without threat, provided shade for picnics in Shropshire, a feeling of awe along the Champs Elysees in Paris and a source of fun—palm tree hugging—in Ireland.   Trees, like good music, provide a sense of universal harmony.

SOS Elms Coalition, in its tenth year, continues to play an active role to raise awareness of the importance of our maintaining a diversified and healthy urban forest.   Many non-elm species are experiencing the end of their life cycles and/or invasion by their own pests and forms of disease.  That fact, combined with the imminent arrival of Dutch elm disease (DED) to Saskatoon, makes our job as tree protectors timely, indeed.

We welcome new members and thank those of you who continue to renew your memberships and contribute your time, talents and monetary gifts to our organization.   Ideas for our latest projects are the result of partnering with the Saskatchewan Dutch Elm Disease Association and have been made possible through funding from our members, the Saskatoon Foundation, Saskatchewan Environment, the City of Saskatoon, and the Meewasin Valley Authority.  Many thanks to all who have worked to preserve and protect our glorious American elms.  Please stay with us in the vitally important years to come.

Thanks to Stephanie Laverty and Richard Kerbes, who have kept the SOSE Board strong and active by filling the chair of president until my retirement from teaching last June.  Thanks also to those of you who sat at our SOSE information table at the Farmers Market last summer.

Finally, a note about newsletters.  We issue a newsletter when we have new developments and events to share with you.  Please feel welcome to contribute family tree stories, commentaries, poems, drawings, cartoons and photographs regarding elms.  The more material we have, the more newsletters we will be able to create.  Our post office address and website are listed in this issue.

On behalf of SOS Elms Coalition, I wish you all healthy, happy holidays and a peaceful, treeful new year.

New Home Owners' Guides on the Way

   One of the very successful publications produced by SOS Elms has been the “Home-owner’s Guide to Elm Care and DED Prevention in Saskatchewan”.  This publication was originally widely distributed as a local version in Saskatoon alone, but was then redistributed as a provincial guide.  It seems that of all the DED information items offered, the “Home Owners Guide” proves to be the most popular item at trade shows and displays.

Thanks to funding from Saskatchewan Environment, SDEDA and SOS Elms a revised version of the publication is now at the printers and we will soon have 10,000 copies available for use through the agencies listed above.  Along with their use at trade shows, the guides will be distributed to garden centres and pruning supply stores in targeted areas this spring.

The one idea recently suggested at a board meeting was that members may be persuaded to use the new guide as part of a door-to-door campaign in their neighborhoods to promote DED awareness and to recruit new members.  If you would be willing to do this, please let Judith Benson know and she will make arrangements to get the new guides to you.

A Visit to the Rendek Elm Forest
 - Linda Moskalyk

The Rendek Elm Forest is located just east of the town of Hudson Bay. The little 35 acre nature sanctuary is tucked in among the farms and woodlands bordering the Red Deer River of north-eastern Saskatchewan .

It feels quietly spiritual to stand among the ferns, look up at the towering elms and listen to the chorus of bird life that exists there. It could be called Saskatchewan's small tropical secret.  The majestic elms share this spot with northern ferns that thrive under the canopy and sometimes stretch to a height of five and six feet tall. The abundance of plant and bird life is amazing.  Some bird species that we identified were woodpeckers, sandhill cranes, American redstarts, warblers and goldfinches. The forest floor is home to mosses, bunchberry, raspberries and a large-leafed plant that we think might be cow parsnip.

There is an area in these woods that is particularly interesting.  As I entered that part of the forest, the massive trunks reminded me of giant cottonwoods that grow along the rivers.  A closer look confirmed that they are actually elms.  The diameter of these trunks and the thick layer of soft mosses and hollow cavities at the base are signs of age, not disease. It is hard to believe that someday this little ecosystem might not exist as a unique native elm forest.

When I first arrived I was greeted at the entrance to the forest by one large elm that stood lifeless and naked against the otherwise dark green backdrop of the Rendek.  As I walked into the forest a closer look revealed the true demise of this ecosystem.  The nature trail led past a large group of elms that all had considerable dieback.  Yellow, wilting leaves confirmed the presence of Dutch elm disease.  The close proximity of these infected trees seems to indicate the ease with which the disease can spread.  If one stands along the bank of the Red Deer River, dead or dying elms can be seen sticking out in an obvious pose from the rest of the forest.

A resident who lives across the river informed me that the Rendek forest was the site of a Hudson's  Bay Company trading post many years ago. Artifacts from the area have been discovered and collected.  I talked later with Alex Rendek, the original owner of the property.  He remembers back in the 40's and 50's when the site was used for gatherings and picnics by neighbours in the community.  I hope the forest can withstand the disease by regenerating with new species and even with younger more resilient elm.  I guess only time will tell.

New Video Ad Underway

Another of the projects that SOS Elms is working on in conjunction with Saskatchewan Environment is the production of a new DED awareness advertisement for use on television as either a paid ad or a public service announcement.  Initial work occurred on a rough cut of the video this summer and efforts are now being made to develop a more refined version of the ad during the winter.  You may recall the previously released ad of “the girl on a swing” that focused more at the appreciation of what elms do for us.  The new ad will have more of a focus on the what the symptoms of DED look like and what one should do if they see these symptoms.

Many thanks to Eveline Boudreau who is the SOS Elms representative on this project, working in conjunction with Steve Hyde from Saskatchewan Environment and Global TV.  You can look for the new ad on TV stations starting in the spring of 2003.

Alberta DED Program Report  -  2002
- Janet Feddes-Calpas

Unfortunately Alberta's DED prevention program was almost cut in 2002. During the recent restructuring of Alberta Agriculture, Food and Rural Development (AAFRD), Industry Development Sector (IDS), it was felt that this program was not within the IDS mandate. Through tremendous support from various groups and individuals from across western Canada, the decision to cut the program was re-evaluated.  AAFRD agreed to retain the program until April 2003 with the hope that other funding partnerships could be formed within that time period.

In 2002 beetle monitoring traps were placed throughout the province. The number of beetles trapped and the number of municipalities in the province finding beetles is substantially lower than in previous years. Firewood, in large volumes, was also confiscated at the Alberta-Montana ports of entry.

All sample results in 2002 have turned out negative for the presence of DED, however Dothiorella wilt remains a concern for the City of Edmonton.  Altogether, more than 200 cases of Dothiorella wilt have been confirmed in Edmonton since 1996.  To date, 74 of these have resulted in tree removal. The continued drought in southeast, northeast and central Alberta, has caused significant stress on American elms.  In general, elm trees have shown good drought tolerance compared to other tree species.  Red elm weevil continues to cause damage to the elms, mainly in Lethbridge, although more areas are reporting damage from this weevil.  Cases of leaf miner damage, hard-shell scale and fall cankerworm have also been reported.

DED Public Awareness Week was recognized throughout the province during the week of June 24th - June 28th.  For more information check our website.

Slow Spread Spells Success – The Status of DED in Saskatchewan
- Glenn Gustafson

The 2002 Dutch Elm Disease (DED) season is now at and end and while the disease continues to make its mark in the province, we are seeing that DED management activities are definitely slowing the spread of the problem.  Without these efforts, DED would have likely spread across the entire province by now, taking with it nearly one billion dollars of urban American elms.  In the world of DED, a slow spread of the disease definitely spells success!

As expected, we are seeing that the number of infections decrease or remain low in areas that are actively managing DED.  For example, Estevan lost fewer trees this year than in the past several years, while Carnduff has lost the lowest number of trees in the nine years it has had DED.  A total of 565 elms were lost to DED in surveyed communities and buffer zones in 2002 versus 641 trees removed in 2001, however there will be an additional 340 elms removed from the Condie Nature Refuge NW of Regina due to the poor condition of these trees.

The two main areas of concern in Saskatchewan are Lumsden and Regina. Lumsden had the highest removal numbers in the province (67 trees) and Regina had the highest tree loss in its history (14 trees).  The numbers in Lumsden are not too surprising as there has been no capacity to deal with the disease in the natural areas around the town, therefore making it very difficult to control infections within the community itself. Regina’s increase on the other hand, while worrying, is still well below the 2% loss rate seen in other communities with comprehensive DED programs.  The increase in infections is likely due to an inadequate buffer zone for the city, a situation that will be rectified in the years to come.

We were especially pleased to see that there were no new outbreaks of the disease in surveyed communities this year.  Of particular note, several communities that had infections last year, namely Moose Jaw, Weyburn, Carlyle, Moosomin, and White City, were disease free in 2002. No infections have re-appeared in Davidson since their first removal in 1999.

The areas that are not being represented in the above numbers are the natural areas and small communities where no organized sampling is occurring.  For example, it was confirmed this year that a number of elms in the Rendek Elm Forest NE of Hudson Bay has DED.  The extent of this infection is unknown, as it is in other natural areas.  A number of new infections were also detected in areas like Wapella and Boundry Dam, but infections in many other unmonitored areas are no doubt being missed.

It is now quite evident that where we actively manage DED we can slow down the spread of the disease dramatically.  What we need to do is to involve as many groups and individuals as possible in this effort so that we can see even greater success in the future.  For more information on DED in Saskatchewan check out the SDEDA web site at  or call 1-800-SASKELM.

Tree Distribution Program Much Appreciated in Communities

The Saskatchewan Urban Forest Diversification Program (SUFDP) distributed a total of 510 trees to 19 very appreciative communities across the province in September.  This Tree Canada Foundation program, organized by Murray Little, is in its third year of operation and has over this time period distributed 7,200 trees to Saskatchewan communities that have either had DED or are threatened with DED.

Because of limited funding, the 2002 program was only available to communities that have had DED.  The number of trees allocated to each community was dependant on the number of elms they had lost.  The tree stock distributed in the program was in 7 gallon containers with most of the trees being between 6 to 8 feet tall.  It is felt that larger, containerized stock is more likely to survive and will fill in gaps in the urban forest more quickly.  It's like having an instant forest appear overnight.

The aim of the program is to diversify urban forests in order that species specific diseases like DED will have less of an impact in the future.  To accomplish this goal eight different species were distributed this year namely: ash, cherry, crabapple, linden, maple, mountain ash, oak and silver maple.  Stock was allocated in a ratio of 1/3 ash, 1/3 larger tree species, and 1/3 smaller ornamental species. As in other years, the SDEDA assisted in the program through providing information packages to each of the participating communities containing tree planting information, DED awareness materials, as well as a "Tree Care Pledge" that the community was asked to sign.  The pledge is based on maintaining trees received in the program for a three year period.

The main funding for this program has come through TransCanada Pipelines, however as this group will not be funding the program next year efforts will be made to seek an alternate sponsor.  Many thanks to Murray Little for his hard work as well as thanks to the Town of Moosomin who provided space and staff time.

Newsletter No. 14, Winter 2001-02

Acting President's Message - Stephanie Laverty
In Memory of a dedicated SOS Elms Member
Visit the Rendek Elm Forest before it's gone!
Urban Forest Diversification Program
Win, Lose, and Draw - the status of DED in Saskatchewan
Ian Birse is the new City of Saskatoon Superintendent of Forestry

Acting President’s Message   - Stephanie Laverty

The SOS Elms Coalition has always played an active role in the community to raise awareness of Dutch elm disease (DED) and will continue to do so in the future.  For example, the City of Saskatoon has developed an Emergency Response Plan to carry out once DED has been confirmed in Saskatoon. As a citizen’s coalition, our goal is to ensure that the City carries out its contingency plan efficiently and effectively.  In conjunction with the Saskatchewan Dutch Elm Disease Association (SDEDA), the SOS Elms Coalition will be presenting to City Council in February in regards to “getting serious” about its efforts to prepare for the eventual arrival of DED.

Our greatest concern relates to privately owned elms.  Where will the money come from to properly prune or remove these trees in order to prevent the spread of this infectious disease?  The SOS Elms Coalition hopes to meet with community associations in the next year to inform the communities about the threat of DED and what the community as a whole can do to contribute to its management.

The City of Winnipeg has been fighting this disease for over 25 years, and is now close to losing the battle due to problems with DED management in the city’s buffer zone.  We in Saskatoon and Saskatchewan need to demand the support of our province, as well as our municipalities, in the battle to save our elm trees.  Please get involved with your community and do your part. Contact me at 244-9980 with any questions or concerns you may have.

In Memory of a dedicated SOS Elms Member

Ray Boyle, long time board member and a past president of SOS Elms Coalition, passed away in Saskatoon on September 23rd, 2001. Ray, a retired professor of Engineering at U of S, worked very hard on behalf of SOS Elms and the trees in the communities of this province.   Applying his 50-year professional background in cartography and computer-graphics, he developed software for the mapping of urban trees.  He was a driving force behind the SOS Elms inventories of  mature  trees on private property in Saskatoon and several other Saskatchewan cities and towns. He contributed a great deal to public education about trees, and he was a very successful fund-raiser for SOS Elms.  His boundless energy, enthusiasm and interest in people were an inspiration to everyone who worked with him. Ray will be sadly missed.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep, 
But I have promises to keep, 
And miles to go before I sleep, 
And miles to go before I sleep. 

- Robert Frost

Visit the Rendek Elm Forest before its gone!

There is a treasure called the Rendek Elm Forest tucked away in northeast Saskatchewan.  Home to one of the last stands of wild American elms in North America, it is a mature sanctuary with an amazing variety of plants.  It is located in the valley of the Red Deer River, about 25 km northeast of Hudson Bay.  Some members of SOS Elms visited this area in 1997 and they returned raving about the beautiful elm trees and spectacular ostrich ferns.  Sadly, more recent reports have confirmed that DED has been moving westward along the Red Deer River, and is now in the Rendek.

For more information about the Rendek Elm Forest check out Saskatchewan Naturally magazine (Fall 2001 – Vol. 3, No. 3) and Blue Jay (June, 2000).

Urban Forest Diversification Program

One way to ensure that we have a healthy urban forest for future generations to enjoy is by selecting a wide range of tree species in our planting projects today. As part of the Urban Forest Diversification Program the City of Saskatoon received more than 600 trees over the last two years. The species of trees provided in this program included bur oak, ivory silk lilac, showy mountain ash, spring snow crab, prairie spire ash, basswood, aspen, and  elm. These are species or selections of species that have not been planted in great numbers in Saskatoon and therefore will provide species diversification. Some of these trees have been planted on boulevards, in parks, in shelterbelts, others have been planted in the Civic nursery to grow on to a larger size for future planting projects. Murray Little of the Tree Canada Foundation organizes this program and major funding for this program comes from TransCanada Pipelines. This year approximately 2690 trees were provided to 35 communities across the province.

Win, Lose, and Draw - the status of DED in Saskatchewan

Glenn Gustafson - Executive Director, Saskatchewan Dutch Elm Disease Association

As the 2001 Dutch elm disease (DED) season drew to a close, it was apparent that in some areas of the province the battle was won, in some areas we lost ground, and in some places you could call it a draw. DED is on the move in Saskatchewan, but we are doing what we can to make sure that it moves as slowly as possible.

In general, the communities that were actively doing DED management were the winners this year as most saw their removal rates drop from previous years.  This is what we expect to see in communities where everyone is involved in the fight to slow the spread of the disease.  The main exception to this trend was the City of Regina that saw eight trees removed due to DED in 2001.  Considering that Regina had only lost six trees i

We are always saddened to see new communities become infected or to see infections reappear in a community.  These would be the areas where ground was lost in 2001.  Communities with new infections included Moose Jaw, White City, Grayson, Welwyn, near Sedley and the south end of Last Mountain Lake.  Weyburn had its first infection in ten years. Lumsden, a community that had eased off of its DED management activities, was the worst hit community in the province with a total of 68 infected trees removed.  Several areas such as Carlyle and Katepwa saw similar infection rates to last year, so I guess we can call it a draw in these towns. To put the year in perspective, we saw that a total of 21 communities had infections this year, a substantial increase from 14 the year before.  Infections were found again in Buffalo Pound Provincial Park, Carlyle, Carnduff, near Craven and Codette, Estevan, Fort Qu’Appelle, Kamsack, Katepwa, Lumsden, Moosomin, Nipawin, Regina, Weyburn, Yellow Grass and Zenon park.  Overall a total of 520 infected trees will be removed once winter removals occur in the buffer zones around Regina, Fort Qu’Appelle and Estevan.  This compares with a total of 694 trees that were removed in 2000.

What conclusions can we draw from all of these names and numbers?  It would seem that in some areas we are holding our own or even improving on the situation.  However, lower total removal numbers while they look promising, may have more to do with the lack of elms left to remove in buffer zones verus overall success in DED management.  It is safe to say that DED will continue to threaten our communities, but it is important to remember that we do know how to slow the spread and rate of infections.

Those who are not aware of what they can do to help save the American elms of Saskatchewan should either check our web site at: or call the Saskatchewan Dutch Elm Disease Association at: (306) 933-5546

Ian Birse is the new City of Saskatoon Superintendent of Forestry

After twelve years with the City of Saskatoon Forestry Section, Dave Domke has recently moved back to his
hometown of Winnipeg where he will be working with the City of Winnipeg Parks Department.

Ian Birse was selected as the new Superintendent of Forestry and he arrives in Saskatoon with a great deal of experience and expertise in biology and arboriculture. He has worked with trees and the insects and diseases that affect trees for the greater part of his career. He looks forward to the opportunities and challenges presented to him in maintaining and enhancing the greater than 100,000 trees on boulevards, parks, and shelterbelts in Saskatoon.

Prior to moving to Saskatoon Ian spent twenty years with the City of Edmonton in the administration of their pest management unit and more recently for directing their urban forestry program. In this position, like his new job in Saskatoon, his duties included the delivery of services for tree maintenance, tree planting, insect and disease control, and the operation of a tree nursery.

Ian also represented the City of Edmonton on several provincial groups and international organizations including the Alberta Plant Health Council, the International Society of Arboriculture, the Alberta Forestry Association, the Society to Prevent Dutch Elm Disease, and the American Mosquito Control Association.

With a keen interest in tree diseases and insects he has been concerned about Dutch elm disease for many years. He was a founding director of Alberta’s Society to Prevent Dutch Elm Disease (STOPDED) and served on its executive for six years.  He was recently elected to serve as a director on the Saskatchewan Dutch Elm Disease Association as well as on their policy advisory committee.  Ian has recently met with the SOS Elms Coalition board and we look forward to working together to see that our urban forest is protected.

Newsletter No. 13, Spring 2001

Past-President’s Message
SDEDA Report
Saving our Saskatchewan Elms
Cankerworm Banding – Let’s do it right!
Home Owner’s Guide
The American Elm – Not a Dumb Idea

"Count Your Trees In"

This CD-ROM version of the book describes the methods used by SOS-Elms for their tree inventory survey in Saskatchewan. It includes a very useful deductive analysis of the tree type that enabled untrained surveyors to rapidly learn to do an effective survey. This is based on the original “Count Your Trees In” but developed as a Prairie Edition by dedicated workers in SOS-Elms and at the Horticulture Dept. of the University of Saskatchewan. It is also useful for teachers of botany.  For the present SOS-Elms will provide free copies to interested parties who request it, but would appreciate a donation.

Past–President’s Message
- Richard Kerbes

Another season begins!  Cankerworm bands should be down by now (see article).  SOS Elms continues to face the challenges in our fight against Dutch elm disease (DED), and in keeping the American elm alive and well in the communities of Saskatchewan. Brad Mitchell had to resign as President in late October of last year because he left Canada for employment in Taiwan.   Brad had done an excellent job for the five months he was in the position and we were sad to see him go.  No one has agreed to take over since then, and the presidential duties have been shared by several board members.   However, it would be much better to have an official president -  we need a volunteer to come forward now!

SOS Elms continues to enjoy support from our loyal  membership.   We are grateful for their commitment and donations to our cause.  We also thank The Saskatoon Foundation and Saskatchewan Environment and Resource Management (SERM) for their financial support of our recent project, the production and distribution of  “A Homeowner’s Guide to Elm Care and DED Prevention in Saskatoon”.   We distributed it to some 13,000 homes in the older neighborhoods of Saskatoon in March this year (see article by Glenn Gustafson).

I continue to represent SOS Elms in the Saskatchewan Dutch Elm Disease Association (SDEDA).  Glenn Gustafson, Executive Director of the SDEDA since last April, is doing and excellent job of coordinating their activities and keeping SOS Elms informed (see his report).

On a sadder note, Carolyn Hartney passed away on July 20, 2000.  A long-time member and enthusiastic supporter of SOS Elms, she had also been on our board since 1999.  Her contributions were appreciated very much.

Highlights of our activities since last fall include:

This spring SOS Elms assisted the City of Saskatoon with their distribution of tree seedlings from the TREEmendous Saskatchewan Foundation.  A non-profit organization, it provides the opportunity for all people in Saskatchewan to enhance and learn about their environment through the planting of free tree and shrub seedlings.  Its major sponsor is SaskPower, and the seedlings are grown in greenhouses at the Shand power station near Estevan.  See the TREEmendous web site  for more information.

Saskatchewan Dutch Elm Disease Association Report
 Glenn Gustafson, Executive Director

Although efforts intensified last year in the provincial DED management program due to an increase in funding, the disease slowly continued its spread moving into the communities of Kamsack and Fort Qu’Appelle for the first time.  On the other hand, overall tree removals for the year were down significantly.  This was no doubt due in part to efforts to manage the disease, as well as due to the low number of trees that are still left in some areas to remove.  The number of trees that “aren’t” being removed is the real success story here for if we had stood back and done nothing the disease would have likely already swept through the province and the American elm would now be somewhat of a rarity.

The Saskatchewan Dutch Elm Disease Association (SDEDA) has had a busy year working to raise the profile of the Association in the province. With this in mind SDEDA staff have been attending as many trade shows, conferences, and workshops as possible.  The annual SDEDA spring workshop, held last June in Fort San, was another venue in which people could learn more about DED and the Association.

The SDEDA has also been actively meeting with the provincial government to discuss the challenges that we face in winning the fight against DED.  Aside from the ever present shortage of funding (we are currently at approximately half the funding level estimated to establish a comprehensive DED program), our main push has been to make changes to the existing DED regulations to, among other things, make it easier to enforce the regulations and to require an  endorsement for elm pruners. So far discussions are underway, but the changes are slow to materialize.

Through support from a variety of funders, the SDEDA is pleased to be assisting the Saskatchewan Urban Forest Diversification Program (a Tree Canada project) by purchasing additional tree stock and by offering a related “Tree Care” program for those receiving trees under the program.  Sponsors are also allowing the SDEDA to develop a grade four to six school curriculum package titled “There’s a Fungus Among Us”, with an accompanying poster and activity sheet.  The finished product should be ready to go to schools across the province later this year.

Saving our Saskatchewan Elms
 Dr. Susan Kaminskyj, Biology Department, University of Saskatchewan

Now is a good time to review the symptoms of Dutch Elm Disease (DED), which could begin to show in early summer. In particular, watch for wilting, yellowing and curling of all the leaves on apparently undamaged branches. Symptoms develop over days to weeks, and both young and mature trees are susceptible. Call the city at 975-3300 if you suspect DED - there is no cost to you. Wilt diseases other than DED are lethal, too, so the best protection for Saskatoon's urban forest is to get prompt attention from a forester or arborist.

Elm bark beetles are attracted to the scent of freshly cut elm wood, hence the ban on pruning both American and Siberian elms between April 13th and July 31st.  After this time, the appearance and future health of your elms can be maintained/improved by removing dead and dying branches. This requires specialized equipment, so it is best (and safest!) to consult an arborist.

Cankerworm Banding - Let’s Do it Right! - Richard Kerbes

It is now mid-May and I see cankerworm bands in various states of disrepair on trees in Saskatoon.  Some bands have been placed and maintained neatly, but many are a rag-tag collection of weathered transparent plastic and ugly yellow or pink fiberglass. YIKES!  By May 15th those bands have served their purpose and they should ALL be removed!

People put bands up for good reason.   The experts in tree care say that we need them to reduce the numbers of the female cankerworm moth.  The larvae of this creature can sometimes reach infestation levels, completely devouring a tree’s leaves. Furthermore, as the growing worms drift about on their threads they cause a big nuisance to people passing by.  Cankerworm bands have no direct effect in preventing DED, but by reducing the stress of cankerworm infestations, they may reduce the amount of dead branches on an American elm, and thereby reduce its risk of contracting DED.

Tree banding, to be done correctly according to the experts, should be done by early September.  The bands will then be ready to catch the flightless female moths as they emerge from the ground to climb up the trunk of the tree to lay their eggs in the upper branches.  The band and its sticky surface must be maintained until freeze-up.  If it is not sticky, or if it gets covered with leaves etc. which act as bridges, it is useless.

The bands are to be left up all winter, because there is another variety of cankerworm whose female emerges only in spring, once the ground has thawed out.  Of course, the band again needs careful repair and maintenance, to ensure that its surface is sticky.

Finally, the experts ask us to remove the bands after the spring females have emerged.  To be on the safe side, they say this should not be until about May 15th, to allow for a cold late spring. Consequently, we have to look at these cankerworm bands for almost 8 months of the year.  Even worse, many bands are left on even longer, not being removed till July or not at all.   That is because some people who put up bands do not understand that they have a responsibility to maintain and to remove them.   They seem to forget that a tree is a living creature, and a tight plastic band around it during the growing season is harmful.  Furthermore, they don’t realize that if water gets in behind the plastic and into the fiberglass layer, the bark can rot causing permanent damage to the tree.

In regard to the current 8 month or longer eyesore of cankerworm bands, I am proposing to SOS Elms that we should promote a more effective and a more aesthetic approach to canker worm banding, i.e.:

1. Reassess the effectiveness and actual need for mass banding vs. targeting of areas known to have been heavily infected the year before,

2.Canker worm bands should not only be properly applied and maintained, they should also be covered with dark-coloured plastic only (as done on the U of S Campus), which is much less conspicuous than the typical use of transparent wrap which exposes the yellow or pink insulation.

Home Owner’s Guide Completed
Glenn Gustafson

I was pleased to work on the SOS Elms project - “Home Owner’s Guide to Elm Care and DED Prevention in Saskatoon.”  This guide was the culmination of an advertising campaign that ran in the Saskatoon Sun last summer and fall under the slogan, “Act now or your elm is as good as DEAD!”.

A total of 15,000 of the guides were printed and 13,000 were distributed in March directly to home owners in the older neighborhoods of Saskatoon.  The remaining guides have been made available in libraries and leisure centres throughout the city, as well as being used as a handout at trade shows (e.g. Gardenscapes) and by the SDEDA.

Up until now there has been no printed publication like this. This new guide is extremely useful for home owners who have questions about their elms and how to care for them.     People who attended Gardenscape were very pleased to obtain this brochure at no cost.  It has even caught the eye of many DED practitioners from other areas of the province who also see the need of providing homeowners with more information.

The production of the ads and brochure were funded by SERM, The Saskatoon Foundation, and SOS Elms Coalition.  Richard Kerbes and other SOS Elms board members assisted in reviewing and editing.  Many thanks to all!

The Guide is now online here.

The American Elm – Not a Dumb Idea - Not Now

The above title appeared in the February, 2001 issue of “Arborist News”.  The article goes on to say that we should perhaps reconsider our idea of not planting American elms as there are still circumstances where the American elm will outperform many other trees even with DED being present!  The basis of this reasoning is that the American elm is such an adaptable tree that is able to endure all types of urban abuses from salt spray to root compaction.  In fact, it may be the only tree that will grow in some urban settings.  If this is the case American elms still make sense!

SOS ElmsNewsletter No. 12, Fall 2000

President's Message
Past President’s Message
New Urban Forest Program
Community Tree Celebration

President’s Message - Brad Mitchell

Hello everyone.  I hope the summer has been good to all of you.  Richard Kerbes resigned as president in July and I have taken over on an interim basis until October.  If you are interested and able to fill this position please step forward as the Coalition cannot survive without someone at the helm.

So far this year, Saskatoon has remained free of Dutch elm disease. Although several trees were tested for possible infection, all the results came back negative.  However, new infections have been discovered in Kamsack (2), Fort Qu’Apelle (3), Pasqua Lake (previously disease free), and many trees in Estevan.  The good news is that Davidson has not reported any new infections, as it was the nearest threat to Saskatoon.

SOS Elms has undertaken several new projects over the summer, most significantly the Home Owner Alerts published in the Saskatoon Sun (see Glenn Gustafson’s article).  Judging from the increasing amount of phone messages we’ve received, the public has taken notice.  A  grant from the Saskatoon Foundation will allow us to print and distribute a more detailed Elm Care Guide to the older neighborhoods where elms are most densely concentrated. In addition to this, Susan Kaminskyj has arranged a DED Seminar with Mike Allen in October and Stephanie Laverty produced and distributed a tree-banding pamphlet reminding homeowners to remove their bands this summer.

So far we have managed to remain free from DED in Saskatoon for another year.  By remaining active in the community and continuing to raise public awareness in the process, we hope to keep Saskatoon DED free for many years to come.

Past President’s Message - Richard Kerbes

In June I turned over the helm to Brad Mitchell, who has been doing a great job this summer as interim President, keeping our activities on track.  This fall Brad will be leaving the country for a year or more, so we will need a new President to take over, at least until Brad comes back.  If you are interested, please speak up now!

My two years as President of SOS Elms has been both challenging and rewarding in our fight against Dutch Elm Disease (DED), and in keeping the American Elm alive and well in Saskatchewan.  My sincere thanks go to our financial sponsors and to our Board and other members who have worked hard to make our coalition a success.

I continue to represent SOS Elms at board meetings of the Saskatchewan Dutch Elm Disease Association (SDEDA).  In cooperation with Saskatchewan Environment and Resource Management (SERM), SDEDA is effectively fighting DED in the cities, towns, and many villages of Saskatchewan.  Elena Schacherl, who recently moved to Calgary, has done an excellent job for the past 5 years as the first Provincial DED Administrator.   Her place has been taken by Glenn Gustafson, who became the new Executive Director of the SDEDA in April.  Glenn is well qualified for his new post, and has been doing a great job for SDEDA. Although we regret losing Glenn from our SOS Elms Board, fortunately he continues to be a dedicated member, involved in activities such as this newsletter.

Highlights of our activities in the year 2000 include the distribution of our video, on the tragic story of how DED destroyed most of the elms in Great Falls, Montana, and the Community Tree Celebration, which took place at the Saskatoon Forestry Farm on June 11 2000.   This summer we initiated a major first step in our DED Action Plan for Saskatoon.  SOS Elms believes that a pro-active action plan is the most effective and efficient way to preserve our urban forest.  After discussions with City and SDEDA officials, this year we have decided to focus on improving the care of privately owned elms in Saskatoon.  Our “Home Action to Prevent Dutch Elm Disease in Saskatoon” project consists of full-page newspaper “Elm Owner’s Alerts”, and a three-page fold-out “Elm Owner’s Guide”.

The province and the city have greatly improved their DED control programs, thanks in part to earlier lobbying efforts by SOS Elms. Nevertheless, SOS Elms must remain strong and vigilant - a citizens’ voice for our urban forests.

New Urban Forest Diversification Program is Underway

The Tree Canada Foundation is pleased to have acquired major funding to develop a program that will replace trees killed by or at risk from Dutch elm disease.  Thirty-five communities will be receiving trees this fall in a program called the Saskatchewan Urban Forest Diversification Program.

As the one aim of the program is to diversify the tree cover in Saskatchewan communities, Tree Canada will distribute 23 different tree types, representing a variety of sizes, colours, blossoms, and forms.  A more diverse urban forest will be less susceptible to insect and disease infestations.  Most of the trees will be forwarded to the PFRA Shelterbelt Centre at Indian Head, where the participating communities will pick them up on September 22, 25 and 26th and plant them out shortly thereafter.

The major sponsor for the program is Trans Canada Pipeline, which has pipelines through the south of the province, as well as Home  Hardware and Sobey's.  The Tree Canada Foundation is a non-profit organization similar to TREEmendous, but national in scope.  Murray Little with the Tree Canada Foundation is coordinating this particular program out of Prince Albert, in cooperation with the SDEDA.

Community Tree Celebration Wet but Fun! - Michelle Chartier

On June 11th SOS Elms, the City’s Forestry  Section, and a number of local businesses organized the first annual Community Tree Celebration.  Canada Trust ‘Friends of the Environment’, Treemendous, and the City of Saskatoon were the major sponsors. The objective of the event was to plan a day of interesting, fun tree-related activities at the   Forestry Farm Park where the public could join us to learn about trees and the benefits provided by our urban forest.

Our planning committee, which included Richard Kerbes, Judith Benson and Bronco Skorupan from SOS Elms, organized activities to appeal to all ages.  As with all outdoor events the weather played a crucial role in attendance and unfortunately our event landed on one of the coolest, wettest days of spring.  Thankfully the hardy tree spirits could not be chilled and we still had a good turn out.  We moved displays into the auditorium and did some improvising.

Our SOS Elms tree mascot made its debut with the help of Judith Benson and Judy Johns and was a hit. Employees from the City, Superpro Tree Experts, and Sawyers came together to provide pruning and climbing demonstrations and those who came out to the event were not disappointed.  We hope the groundwork for an annual celebration has been put in place and look forward to a second annual event in 2001.


Newsletter No. 11, Winter-Spring 2000

President's Message
1999 Summer Tree Inventory
DED Spreads into Central Saskatchewan
New SERM Minister meets with SDEDA

President’s Message

Richard Kerbes

Dutch Elm Disease (DED) has not yet been detected in Saskatoon, but it came one step closer last summer.   It was confirmed in Davidson, about 100 km to the south (see article by Elena Schacherl).  As you know, DED is lethal to the American Elm, which is the most common mature tree in the older residential areas and parks of Saskatoon. The uncontrolled spread of DED would be devastating - imagine how bare our older areas would be without their big elms.  Soon - perhaps this summer - Saskatoon must rise to the challenge of fighting DED.  SOS Elms believes that a pro-active approach is the most effective and efficient way to preserve our urban forest.  As a specific action in that regard, in a project organized by Michelle Chartier, this winter we are distributing an educational video to the presidents of community associations and others.  It is the tragic story of how DED destroyed most of the elms in Great Falls, Montana. We also have two new projects:

A DED Contingency Plan for Saskatoon - Board Member Ray Boyle pointed out the need for such a plan, and he has written a draft outline.   As he said, “Everyone in Saskatoon may be lulled into a false sense of security about DED.  It hasn’t happened yet.   We have been very lucky so far and we hope that our luck continues for a long time, but one day a small problem will rapidly become a large one . . . . It is essential for SOS Elms to be ready with a plan for IMMEDIATE action.”  Our Board has enthusiastically endorsed Ray’s idea, and we are expanding and refining his draft plan.  This action plan to be mobilized when DED is found in Saskatoon, will lay out specific roles and actions for SOS Elms board members, volunteer members, and others.   Its purpose will be to provide a calm effective plan when our community is hit with the stress of an expanding DED infection.  We will need everyone to be on-side when the trees start falling!

This winter the SOS Elms Board regretfully accepted resignations from by Rick Miller and Toso Bozic.  We thank both for their participation, and we appreciate that both remain in touch and available to help out if needed for specific events.  Brad Mitchell, who worked on the Saskatoon Tree Inventory last summer joined our board this winter.  A welcome addition, he has already taken on responsibilities for organizing our SOS Elms display at the Heritage Fair on February 20, and for Gardenscape in late March (he needs volunteers).  My sincere thanks go to all the people on our Board and to SOS Elms members who volunteered their time, expertise, and monetary support to our activities.

1999 SOS Elms Summer Tree Inventory - Brad Mitchell

Once again the SOS Elms summer tree inventory continued in Saskatoon. Under the supervision of Ray Boyle, the team consisting of Brad Mitchell, Paul Uhryn, and Dorian Klingenburg, successfully surveyed a large area of the city.

The work began in May, with the first two weeks being dedicated to training in the proper identification of tree species and tree diseases.  As well as conducting the survey itself, we distributed informational pamphlets throughout the neighbourhoods and answered any questions people had.  We instructed homeowners on the proper care and maintenance of trees, especially elms, and made sure to stress the importance of the elm cutting ban from April 13 to July 31. Although it was commonly assumed that we were employed by the city, we did our best to explain the nature of the SOS Elms Coalition and its importance.

A complete survey of Eastview, Brevoort Park, Nutana Park, and most of Hudson Bay Park was carried out.  Thankfully we did not discover any cases of DED, however many elms located on private property were in dire need of maintenance.  Not surprisingly most of these were Siberian Elms.

In general, citizens seemed to at least have some vague knowledge of the threat of DED to our city, and the majority of the trees in the areas surveyed were in relatively good condition.  However, the importance of the elms to the city was not fully recognized by most people.

This lack of awareness must change if we hope to save our elms. Continuing exposure at events such as Gardenscape and the U of S Horticulture Fair is needed in order to maintain and raise the public awareness of DED in Saskatoon.

Dutch Elm Disease spreads into central Saskatchewan

Elena Schacherl,
Saskatchewan DED Program Administrator

More has been happening than ever before in Saskatchewan to protect our elms from DED. Here are the highlights of the DED program:

DED 1999 Survey Results

This year’s survey identified DED in Davidson, a significant movement of the disease into the central part of the province.  The closest DED site to Davidson is Buffalo Pound Provincial Park near Moose Jaw.  Although
elm firewood was suspected in the spread of the disease into Davidson, no elm wood was found in the town. This fall Verna Mumby was hired to carry out an elm inventory in Davidson.  She found 10 other American elms with signs of DED.  These elms will be tested as soon as possible come spring.

Davidson is only 90 km from  Outlook and its large population of native elms.  With DED now present in the area, we can expect the disease to speed up its advance towards Saskatoon, only 100 km north.

Generally,  DED numbers were up around Saskatchewan.  The exception was such cost-share communities as Moosomin where numbers dropped as a result of intensive management efforts. The hardest hit this year were the resort areas in the Qu’Appelle Valley.  DED was found for the first time in Lebret, the Village of Fort San, and at Pasqua Lake. Established infections in the northeast and southeast also continued to spread this year, with the number of diseased elms increasing significantly in some communities including:  Aylsham, Arborfield, Nipawin, Lumsden, Estevan and Carnduff.

SERM has completed the 1999 tree removals with  911 elms removed  in communities and buffers province-wide.  For the first time this year, SERM  limited surveillance and removal to municipalities with 400 or more American elms, and targeted buffer areas.  A federal grant allowed the Saskatchewan Dutch Elm Disease Association (SDEDA) to expand the surveillance to include additional communities. The combined SDEDA and SERM surveillance efforts identified DED  in 25 municipalities across the province.

Urban Rural Habitat Renewal Grant

In 1999 Saskatchewan’s Dutch Elm Disease program  received a federal grant from the Urban Rural Habitat Renewal program for approximately $400,000.  In addition to allowing for increased surveillance, these funds were distributed to communities and organizations to carry out elm inventories and pruning .  Priority for funding was given to municipalities with the most significant number of American elms at risk from Dutch elm disease.  The funds were targeted to municipalities not already receiving assistance under the provincial Dutch elm disease cost-share program.  Some of the funds went to the SDEDA to carry out a province-wide, multi-media, public awareness campaign.  SDEDA also hired some contractors to assist communities with elm inventories.  SOS Elms received funding to continue its inventory of private trees in Saskatoon and carry out some public awareness.

The inventories have now  been completed, but not all numbers are in yet.  Some surprising preliminary  results are the higher-than-anticipated numbers in southwestern communities.  High numbers of Siberian elms were also found in many communities.  Regina completed a two mile buffer inventory and  about 50% of their private elm inventory.

Saskatoon also received some funding to carry out an inventory of elms surrounding the city. In the 2 to 4 km wide zone surveyed, the city found 50,590 elm trees.  About 7000 of these were American elm, mostly located on acreages south of the city.  Saskatoon also received some funds for pruning.  The elms pruned were in Woodlawn Cemetery, an area not normally covered by the city’s DED budget.

New SERM Minister Meets with SDEDA

- Elena Schacherl,
Saskatchewan DED Program Administrator

The Saskatchewan Dutch Elm Disease Association (SDEDA) met with the new SERM minister, Buckley Belanger, in the middle of December.  DED was actually mentioned in the recent provincial throne speech in the context of increased support for communities to manage DED.  According to the Minister, this was a positive indicator with regards to funding for next year’s DED program. The actual status of next years’ DED budget, however, won’t be known until the provincial budget is announced in the spring.  The Minister also offered to check into the long stalled, new DED legislation, and see if he could do something to move it forward.  Finally, the new Saskatoon MLA, Peter Prebble, is also supporting the need for increased funding, given the seriousness of the Dutch elm disease situation in this province.


 Newsletter No. 10, Spring 1999

President's Message - Richard Kerbes

Almost a year has passed since I accepted the role of SOS Elms President. It's been a challenging and rewarding year in the fight against Dutch Elm Disease (DED), and in keeping the American Elm alive and well in Saskatchewan communities. Our experienced and dedicated board has been working hard to get things done. In particular, I thank Anna Leighton for her work on many SOS Elms projects. Unfortunately, Anna found it necessary to resign from the Board earlier this year. However, two new people, Bronco Scorupan and Susan Kaminskyj, joined the Board this spring.

Our continued success is also due to you, the individual members, volunteers and supporters of SOS Elms. We are grateful for project funding received over the past year from The Saskatoon Foundation, Saskatchewan Environment and Resource Management (SERM), Human Resources Canada, the Saskatchewan Dutch Elm Disease Association (SDEDA), and Canada Trust. We also thank the Meewasin Valley Authority, the City of Saskatoon, Environment Canada, A & A Communications, and the Saskatoon Freenet for in-kind support.

A new SOS Elms project, spear-headed by Rick Miller, took off in February with a weekly series of Elm Alert articles in the Saskatoon Sun. As noted below, the series included results from our Saskatoon Tree Inventory.

Also in February, SOS Elms activities greatly accelerated when we obtained $11,000 in federal funds from SERM to expedite a number of activities which had been languishing for lack of resources. To ensure that the work wouldbe completed as required by March 31, we were able to use part of those funds to hire Michelle Chartier as coordinator of the work. In a whirlwind of energy, Michelle worked closely with board members and others to bring everything in on time: a beautiful new SOS Elms colour brochure, an editing and duplication of our video on the DED tragedy in Great Falls, MT, an application to the Bronfman Foundation for a major grant, background research for a submission to the City of Saskatoon, and coordination of our SOS Elms display booth at Gardenscape.

In February I gave a presentation on the history and work of SOS Elms to the Industrial Vegetation Management Association of Saskatchewan and Manitoba, and in March I made a submission to Saskatoon City Council, arguing for their approval of an extra $90 000 to the city's tree pruning budget. They subsequently approved those funds, which will help to cover the aftermath of damage caused by the October 1998 snow storm, and further improve the pruning cycle of city trees.

As SOS Elms representative, I attended the February and April board meetings of SDEDA. In cooperation with SERM, it is effectively promoting and facilitating DED prevention in the cities, towns, and villages of Saskatchewan. On the legal front, for over five years SDEDA has been working to have official DED regulations passed in the provincial legislature, and to institute a certification program for professional tree pruners in the province. Passage of the regulations has been held up by complications related not to their content, but to where they fit among existing Acts. Certification is also delayed because it depends on the regulations to be passed.

Our plans for the summer include continuation of the Saskatoon Tree Inventory, a display at Hort Week at the University of Saskatchewan in July, and if the Bronfman Foundation accepts our proposal, SOS Elms will be putting on a tree appreciation week in Saskatoon in September.

I invite everyone to attend our seventh Annual Board Meeting at 7:30 PM on June 9, 1999 at the Meewasin Valley Centre in Saskatoon. Following that meeting we will also have our regular monthly Board Meeting, which is open to members and visitors. SOS Elms can exist only if enough people are also willing to do a bit extra. Hope to see you on the 9th!

Saskatoon Tree Inventory 1999 - Ray Boyle

While our inventory covered most of the older residential districts of Saskatoon in our 1997 and 1998, we still have a few areas to cover. We hope that residents of these areas will welcome our surveyors when they ask if they can enter your yard to check on the trees. On leaving they will tell you of any diseases or other damage that they spot, and if possible, give you some advice on the remedy. The new survey areas for 1999 are: Brevoort Park, Nutana Sub-Centre, Eastview, Nutana Park, Hudson Bay Park, Meadow Green, Montgomery. If time and funds allow we will continue into Sutherland.
We gratefully acknowledge funding for this 1999 survey from SERM and SDEDA.

Did You See Us In The Sun? - Rick Miller

The series of 12 Elm Alert ads that we ran from February to May in the Saskatoon Sun is another step in SOS Elms Coalition's efforts to maintain a community focus on DED. Our mandate has always been to educate the public of all aspects of DED. These ads gave us a forum to share tree statistics that SOS Elms had collected and mapped in our Saskatoon Tree Inventory Project 1997-1998. It also allowed us to explain DED in detail and provide general precautionary and tree maintenance directions.

These ads were timely in publicizing the action need to repair damage that the October 1998 snow storm had done to elm trees. Pruning of damaged trees and the removing of limbs and branches are important first step towards preventing DED from gaining a hold in our community. The ads encouraged people to be responsible for their trees and be alert to the possibility that DED could appear at any time. Early detection of DED and immediate action is still our number one line of defense. The ads were made possible through your memberships and donations, the Star Phoenix, and a collaborative effort by the SOS board members.

DED is on the Move!

By Dave Domke

Last year a tree was sampled for Dutch Elm Disease (DED) in Wainwright, Alberta. The sample was difficult to confirm after the lab work was completed. The sample was sent to Alberta Agriculture, then to University of Toronto, and finally London, England. The lab in England confirmed DED.

The Saskatchewan DED Hot Spots of 1998!

Nipawin, Carlyle, Carrot River, Estevan, Aylsham, Bienfait, Arborfield, Roche Percee, Tisdale, Alameda, Lumsden, Oxbow, Muscopetung I.R., Carnduff, Lemberg, Redvers, Langenburg, Carievale, Marchwell, Stockholm, Moosomin, Fleming, Yellow Grass, Trossachs, Arcola

SOS Elms Newsletter No. 9:  Autumn/Winter 1999

Tree Inventory Update -  Ray Boyle

At the end of September 1998 we are nearing the end of the second year of a comprehensive tree inventory for Saskatoon.  This is a large project following on the successful completion of surveys in small towns and cities in Saskatchewan.

Almost all private houses in treed areas in Saskatoon have now been surveyed.  Other areas are new ones with a low proportion of trees to houses.  Parks have not been done as the city presumably has this data.  It should be noted that to be recorded, trees have to be at least 2 meters (7 feet) high and 7 centimeters (3 inches) in diameter.  Bushes are not included.  In all, about 20,000 houses with 200,000 trees have been tabulated and mapped.

The main impetus for this survey has been the possibility that we may lose our magnificent elm trees from Dutch Elm Disease (D.E.D.), and many of these are on private property.  However, we are also losing our older Manitoba Maples because they are reaching the end of their lives, as well as our birch trees from birch bronze borer.

SOS Elms has organized these surveys, but the surveyors' funding has been provided by New Careers, a provincial government project to train people presently on welfare to learn good work habits and some specialized and useful knowledge; in the latter respect they learn about field data collection, the clear recording of accurate data (both on field spreadsheets and block maps), and the entry of such data into a computer system.  New Careers appreciates the fact that we provide good training and we believe that the overall operation improves the person's viewpoint and capabilities considerably.  Supporting funds have been provided by the Saskatoon Foundation, Saskatchewan Environmental and Resource Management (SERM) and Canada Trust (Friends of the Environment).

The computer developments for this amount of data and its easy analysis and presentation are not trivial.  The system is based on Windows 95 EXCEL and DESIGNCAD as the mapping package.  There are three main sub-packages of these as follows:

1.  Special procedures (macros) for data entry from the field data.
2.  Automatic procedures to analyze and derive data from specialized maps, such as for all birch trees which have shown signs of bronze birch borer, or all American elm trees, or city versus private trees in a given area.
3.  Full edit capabilities starting from a map presentation.  Trees can be deleted, changed, moved or added by simple point and click operations.

 As well as this, there is a presentation method to interest the public.  The person can click on an area of the city and then the block where he/she lives.  It then asks such questions as their estimate of the number of American elms in their block.  It finally gives the surveyed answer and displays a block map showing all the trees in colour and symbol form; this map can be printed and taken home.  We also ask them to come back and tell us (on the computer) about any errors they find.  This whole program (entirely in EXCEL) is attractive in its use of pictures and sound which make it akin to a game.  It is proposed to set up this computer at a central point, but lend it for a week at a time to schools where a teacher has shown interest.  If DED were to strike we will need the....

Update on Protect-An-Elm Private Investigator Project:

An Elm Education Program for Grade  4 to 6 Children

by Judith Benson, Project Leader, Sept. 1998

The Protect-An-Elm P.I. Project has been implemented for two years now and is available for the 1998-99 school year as well.  It is designed to train children to be private investigators who will learn to identify American and Siberian Elms (the good guys) and do surveillance for signs of danger, namely damage done by the beetle (the bad guy) that carries the DED fungus.  The program is open to school classes and groups (e.g. Guides, Scouts, etc.) free of charge thanks to a grant from the Saskatchewan Outdoor and Environmental Education Association (SOEEA), which is sponsored by SaskLotteries.
The project includes two, one-hour introductory sessions by the project leader.  Then the teacher or group leader proceeds with the program, using materials provided.  Materials include an Elm Journal, which explains the program and includes all necessary background information, plus pages for student ideas and reflection, art and journal entries.  When the group leader feels that the students are ready, the project leader returns and they both present the participants with a series of questions.  After answering the questions correctly, students receive an Elm P.I. badge and identification card.  The expectations are that each participant will continue to take responsibility for elm surveillance as an individual and will share his/her knowledge with others in their family and community.

This program provides children with life skills for making a difference as a citizen of Saskatoon and fits well into the grade 4-6 Science curriculum.  Because groups need ready access to American elm trees, please note that transportation to areas of high elm density will be necessary if applicants are not already based in such an area.  If you are interested, please contact the project leader at (306) 653-4339.

Close Call for Saskatoon

submitted by Elena Schacherl
DED Program Administrator, Sept. 1998

On the way to the farmers' market this summer, I spotted a large American Elm at 333 Fourth Avenue North that looked like it must surely be infected with DED.  There were wilting, yellow and curling brown leaves starting in the crown of the tree and continuing almost halfway to the base.  Several branches near the top had already lost all their leaves.  Located just down the street from city hall, this could have been devastating for some of Saskatoon's most mature and valuable elms.  A sample was taken from one of the branches showing wilting symptoms and sent to Saskatchewan Agriculture's plant disease laboratory in Regina.  Fortunately, the diagnosis was Dothiorella Wilt, not Dutch Elm Disease.

Dothiorella Wilt shows almost identical symptoms as DED, but the prognosis for the elm tree is much better.  If it is caught quickly enough and the affected branches are pruned, the tree can usually be saved.  The infected elm found this summer, unfortunately, seemed to have a more severe case of Dothiorella, and will likely be removed.

While Saskatoon remains DED free this year, twenty other communities in the province were not as lucky.  The native elm bark beetle that spreads the DED fungus is running out of healthy elms in the native stands.  As a result, mass disbursement is taking place into adjoining communities.

New sites of DED found in this summer's survey include Tisdale, moving the disease closer of Saskatoon from the north.  Lumsden remains the closest point of infection south of Saskatoon.  DED was also found for the first time in Carlyle, Arcola and Stockholm (just west of Esterhazy).

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