So much for the tree-lined byways of Coeur d’Alene.
November’s ice storm downed or did terminal damage to more than 1,700 trees on public property alone, the city’s Urban Forestry Committee reported Monday. The largest number - 1,200 - were on much-revered Tubbs Hill.
But scores of damaged trees are sprinkled across the city. Forest Cemetery lost 43 and Winton Park & Natural Area lost 25.
Some of these 1,700 trees were toppled. Others were damaged to the point they should be removed, Karen Hinson, the city’s forester, reported.
Another 2,500 public trees need pruning because of ice-storm damage.
Trees that lose their leaves late in the season (pear, dogwood, black locust and oak) and those that shed limbs easily (Douglas fir) were hit hard. Trees with small, dense branches that gathered more of an ice load, such as elm, also suffered damage.
Poorly pruned trees and large, mature trees also were frequent casualties.
From a visual standpoint, the effect could be stunning come spring. City officials estimate that 75 percent of the larger shade trees in Coeur d’Alene suffered some damage.
These grim statistics come on the heels of other bad news for Coeur d’Alene, which prides itself on nearly a dozen continuous years of earning Tree City USA status from the National Arbor Day Foundation. A recent survey by a group called Backyard Tree Farm indicates the Lake City has lost as much as 30 percent of its tree cover in the last 15 years.
“We knew we were losing our tree cover; we didn’t know we were losing that much,” said Amy Gillette of the Tree Farm group. Housing and commercial development are responsible for the loss of most of the trees.
The group used aerial photos taken annually by the Idaho Department of Transportation to analyze the tree situation. The group looked at a 9,000-acre swath running from Lake Coeur d’Alene on the south to Prairie Avenue on the north, Huetter Road on the west and Fernan Lake on the east.
Backyard Tree Farm is working to slow the losses. It will plant 50 trees in Coeur d’Alene next spring.
Mayor Al Hassell said most of the trees along Coeur d’Alene’s streets were planted 60 years ago.
That means they all are the same age. “And when we start losing trees, we are going to lose them all at once,” Hassell said.