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Vol. LXI, No. 4
February 20, 2009
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Seen

A Story of 3 ‘Snags’

Three tulip poplar trees south of Bldg. 31A near Center Drive have been cut down. The trees, which died in 1998, spent the last decade as “snags,” or habitat trees.

A snag is a standing trunk of a dead tree whose base structure is solid; yet “10 years of heartwood rot had begun to jeopardize that stability,” says Lynn Mueller, Office of Research Facilities landscape architect, “as shown by the hollowed-out trunks and surrounding punky heartwood.”

It was prudent to remove the snags before they fell. “It was also important to take them down before the spring nesting season,” Mueller says.

Spring spells woodpeckers. When they spot a snag, they see a flashing sign that reads “Gas! Food! Lodging!” “Having woodpeckers make their homes here helps control wood-boring beetles and other damaging insects in nearby healthy trees,” says Mueller. “Without a healthy population of woodpeckers, our campus trees could be overcome with pests that would require chemical pesticides to control.”

And when Woody moves on? Our new neighbors will be other insect-eating birds such as titmice, nuthatches and wrens.

The medium-sized tree had approximately 93 countable growth rings, making it about 104 years old today

Above:
The medium-sized tree had approximately 93 countable growth rings, making it about 104 years old today.

Right:
Heartwood rot jeopardizes the stability of trees.

Below:
The tulip poplars, which died back in 1998, spent the last decade as “snags,” or habitat trees.

Heartwood rot jeopardizes the stability of trees

 

 

 

 






The tulip poplars, which died back in 1998, spent the last decade as “snags,” or habitat tree

 


Thanks, in large part, to the birds, ORF has not used insecticide spray, with one exception, since 1989. Meanwhile, the NIH Master Plan requires that anytree lost must be replaced, at a minimum, on a one-to-one basis.

"These three trees were [already] replaced nearby with native species of nursery-grown shade and understory trees during the early winter of 1998,” says Mueller. Additional trees will be planted in the fall of 2009.—

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