A Southdale resident is alarmed by the manner in which city forestry workers removed some trees with Dutch elm disease near her home this spring.
Charlotte Kaminsky estimates that around 20 trees were removed from a small wooded area owned by the Royal Canadian Mint, which buffers the backyard of her Newcombe Crescent home to the north.
"The city workers decided to take the approach of bulldozing the forest in order to reach the diseased trees to haul them out," Kaminsky said. "In doing so, they have destroyed countless other trees, bushes and animal habitat in the process."
"There were other options open to them, as a large open area in the centre of the wooded area, already created on a previous cull, could have been used to burn the trees," Kaminsky said. "This small nature patch is much used and appreciated by walkers and nature lovers in the vicinity. Why do we have to destroy the forest to save the trees?"
A City of Winnipeg spokesperson said the trees were removed by the city’s urban forestry operations as part of the Dutch elm disease program.
She said the crews used established trails for access and "needed to use equipment to access these kinds of areas and get the wood out of there."
"It is inevitable with this heavy equipment and the tree removal operation that there may be some disturbance in heavily-treed areas and natural areas. There may be some other plant material that may be disturbed during these removal operations," the spokesperson said. "In this particular case, it appears some blackthorn and some dead trees were pushed around.
Our crews are sensitive to having as little impact as possible, which is why we typically perform removals in these kinds of areas when the ground is frozen. The burning of these trees is dependent on wind conditions and these wind conditions were not favourable at that time."
She added the majority of trees were removed from "private property" but would not disclose who owns the land. A "couple" of the trees were removed from the city-owned Burmac Park, which is east of Newcombe Crescent.
The spokesperson said the city has authority to enter private property to control Dutch elm disease under the Forest Health Protection Act.
"It is our practice to contact the private property owners before we enter their lands to remove trees," she said.
A spokesperson for the Royal Canadian Mint said he was not aware of the trees being removed until he was contacted by The Lance.
Kaminsky, a retired schoolteacher and principal, walks in the area twice a day with her puppy and is also concerned about drainage in the area.
"Do we want to deal with the drainage issue and plant new trees? On the flipside, I think it is natural there will be dead trees, but there must be something to do as a community to preserve and protect the area," Kaminsky said.
"The area is beautiful and used by a number of people. It’s a privilege to live next to it and we’ve seen foxes, rabbits, deer and owls. It should be a celebrated place."
Kaminsky would consider setting up a group with like-minded community members with an interest in the area, if there was enough local support. Her email is firstname.lastname@example.org
Regarding the trees in Burmac Park, community members can call the city naturalist at 204-986-2036.