Medicine for the trees

May 24, 2010 by Melissa McMasters

StudentsThe effort to reclaim an area of Frick Park devastated by oak wilt continued this morning as crews from Bartlett Tree Experts injected 44 trees with a fungicide to protect them from the disease. Students from the Frick Environmental Charter School watched as crews drilled several small holes in the base of a healthy oak tree and attached tubes through which a mixture of fungicide and water were then pumped. City Forester David Jahn encouraged the students to think of the process as the trees receiving medicine, and it did indeed look like the trees were hooked up to IVs.

"It's a perfect morning for this," arborist Stephen Miller told the students. "With the sun shining and a light breeze, the conditions are ideal for the trees to quickly soak up the fungicide." After only about 20 minutes, the trees had taken in the liquid and crews could move on to the next tree. The injections were given to oak trees all around the perimeter of the site where diseased trees were removed, improving the chances that the oak wilt fungus will be eradicated from the area.

Planning for the Future


The vision for the site's future has evolved since our last update, with the City Department of Public Works and the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy developing a preliminary plan for replanting parts of the area in order to help it regenerate more quickly. Park foreman Dick Wilford has already taken steps to prevent further damage, including installing hay bales on the high end of a slope to prevent erosion and adding a water catch basin to slow runoff. The presence of the wetland area will allow for some different plants, such as maples, to be introduced.

A planting plan outlines a new woodland landscape beginning with woodland meadow grasses and continuing to a shrub edge, early successional trees, and a forest canopy. As in the original plan for the space, a swath of land will remain untouched for the next year to study what plants sprout on their own. The two-acre area had become completely populated by the oak trees that came down and by invasive plants, so the introduction of biodiverse elements into the regenerated landscape is a top priority.

Stay tuned for more project updates as they happen!

Replanting map

Update: Read a great article on the subject in the June 3 Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Ecological Restoration, Park Threats, Trees and Urban Forestry, Frick Park