Old Nelson maple set to be chopped

Nelson Hydro is going to remove a Norway maple tree on Chatham Street. - Tamara Hynd
Nelson Hydro is going to remove a Norway maple tree on Chatham Street.
— image credit: Tamara Hynd

The life of an old maple tree is about to end but its wood may find a new life at the hands of an artisan.

The tree, which was scheduled to be removed this week from 230 Chatham Street, straddles land owned by the City of Nelson and the private property of Francise Collier.

Parks supervisor Karen MacDonald said an arborist assessed the tree as high risk as there are large dead limbs above a primary powerline, sidewalk and road.

MacDonald contacted Doug Pickard of Nelson Hydro to request that the tree be cut in larger portions.

“I’m very happy to hear that Karen MacDonald is trying to get the wood into the hands of an artisan rather than into a wood pile,” said Collier.

The City of Nelson does have a tree management plan. MacDonald said the main reason for removal typically is interference with power lines, rot or when part of the tree dies.

What happens to all the debris? Trees six inches in diameter or smaller are chipped. Surplus chips the city does not need are given to the community.

Trees greater than six inches in diameter are given to woodworkers or cut into firewood and left on  boulevards for the neighbourhood.

The city has a list of woodworkers who use wood for art or fireplace hearths. (If you would like to be on the list of artisans and woodworkers, call 250-352-8227.)

MacDonald said many Norway maples were planted 60 to 80 years ago around Nelson and have grown to enormous proportions.

“Many of the trees should have been removed 20 to 25 years ago,” she said.

Bad pruning practices in the past have also contributed to the problem, she added: “There have been some real butcher jobs.”

People should not prune boulevard trees — City of Nelson bylaws state a person can be fined $500 per tree, up to $10,000.

As oversized trees are removed over time, the management plan states two trees will be planted for every one taken out. “That’s a nice idea,” said MacDonald, “but may not be realistic.”

Once trees are taken down, a stump grinder is taken to the base as there is too much damage trying to remove the stump.

The city is now planting boulevards with columnar trees such as the Armstrong maple which has a green leaf that turns an orange red in the autumn.

A variety of trees such as the Stewartia, perrotia, ash and purple beech will be planted  to add interest and diversity so that should an illness hit one variety, the rest will remain.


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