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Residents band together for blitz

Banders need more hands to help beat cankerworms

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A group of local residents is banding together to save neighbourood trees in the fight against cankerworms.


The South Osborne Tree Banding Blitz will take place Sept. 17 — when neighbours in the Riverview and Lord Roberts communities will join forces and band as many trees as possible at a cost of $10 per tree. The rain date is Sept. 18.


Bands should be placed on trees by the beginning of October and then taken down around the end of May the next year.


Active volunteer Raimey Gallant — who is communications co-ordinator of the Riverview and Lord Roberts CLER Program (Community-Led Emissions Reduction) — said the four-year provincial pilot program, which is coming to an end, has been crucial to the community.


The goal is for communities across Manitoba to take part in activities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.


Gallant said the response to the blitz has been great so far, but there is still a need for more volunteers.
"We currently have 34 block captains and co-block captains covering 67 blocks, so we definitely need more volunteers to help us band trees," Gallant said.


"And we desperately need people to loan us wagons for the weekend, so the banding teams can easily transport the materials," she added.


Gallant said the banding initiative is an important step in helping the environment.


"For me, our urban forest is indispensable to our city, as the carbon capture is immense," Gallant said.


One volunteer in the thick of the action will be Lord Roberts resident Ray Offman, who was banding trees in the neighbourhood before the CLER Program was introduced.


 "It’s about the protecting trees for the future, because they are such lovely attributes in our neighbourhoods," Offman said.


The engineer said the banding process is relatively quick and easy.


"You throw a band up, tape it to the tree and add some Tanglefoot. So when you get a group of people together and get the momentum going it probably takes about a minute per tree.   


Offman said another benefit of the blitz will be the chance for community members to mix together for a good cause.


"I enjoy meeting all the neighbours, as it’s important to have friendly, happy and safe neighbourhoods," he said.


Kerienne La France, executive director of Trees Winnipeg (Coalition to Save the Elms), said the banding blitz is designed to target cankerworms specifically.


"I want to clarify that the banding is aimed at reducing cankerworms, not Dutch elm disease itself, " said La France, who lives in St. Vital. "By reducing cankerworm stress on trees, it will make them less susceptible and help prevent several years of cankerworms."


She noted the key is to try and band each consecutive tree, rather than every two or three — as the canopies of many larger trees touch at the top.


"Cankerworms can swing on long, silk threads and move from tree to tree. People think of it as a bit like Spiderman in this respect," she said noting the species is particularly attracted to elm, ash, maple apple and, occasionally, oak trees.


CLER Program co-ordinator and local resident Kerri Twigg said the blitz is part of an umbrella grouping of local activities that form part of the government initiative. These include composting, garden share and bike hub programs.


"I know there are people that make choices about making sustainable change. We’ve tried to make things fun and inspire people," Twigg said.


"Sometimes it is not even saying it’s about climate change, for example. A bigger selling point for people can sometimes be about an activity adding value to their homes. The most important thing is that they participate and have fun doing it."


For more information about the blitz, or to volunteer, email raimey.gallant@rvlrclimatechange.com.

simon.fuller@canstarnews.com

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