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Rot found in 100-year-old Elm tree in Friday Harbor

A significant portion of one of the two 100-year-old Dutch elm trees in Memorial Park broke June 2, 2022 during the night taking out a street lamp and blocking access to the bottom of the Spring Street traffic circle.  No injuries or additional property damage has been reported.  Preliminary inspections by certified arborists from two local companies identified the cause as severe rot.   A detailed report will be completed next week.  

The falling limb took out a street lamp. Photo courtesy of Christy Desermeaux

Town crew remove top branches of Dutch elm tree. San Juan Islander photo 

Due to the sudden, unexpected breakage and the resulting imbalance of the remaining tree, the public is advised to exercise extreme caution and avoid the area until the stability of both trees can be assured.  On the advice of the arborists, the Town is removing upper branches of the tree in an effort to avoid further breakage.  The future of the trees will be determined after a thorough, professional evaluation.  

Town crews set aside the wood for anyone who wants to use it. Please contact the Town at 360.378.2810 if you are interested.

“The Town’s priority is to extend the life of these iconic trees but not at the expense of public safety,”  said Town Administrator Denice Kulseth, adding, “We are thankful that this happened when no pedestrians or vehicles were in the area.”  Kulseth further stated, “We all love these trees. They are the welcome mat to our Town and a beacon that we have come home.  However, we realize that it  was incredibly fortunate that no one was injured, and we understand we may need to make a very difficult decision about the future of these grand trees. We trust the public will support whatever measures must be taken to eliminate future risk of harm.”

The tree as it looks after town crew trimmed it on June 3, 2022. San Juan Islander photo 

The two elms were planted a year after the granite Memorial was installed in 1921. The Women’s Study Club planted the trees in May 1922 as a memorial to those lost in WWI, one representing Army losses, one representing Navy losses.

Undated historic photo of Memorial Monument

Questions regarding the elms may be directed to the Town Administrator at dkulseth@fridayharbor.org.

1 comment

  • kevin roth Monday, 06 June 2022 18:07 Comment Link Report

    what are the options/choices on the table by town of fh regarding action on the tree? also, will there be a public meeting and comments allowed?

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