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Thursday, April 11, 2013




Thursday,  8:00 AM.  30 degrees F, wind NE, gale force.  The sky is overcast, the barometer stands at 30.00 in.and the humidity is 80%.  The sky is overcast and a major storm is on its way from the southwest.  At present the northeast wind has opened a huge span of open water off the west coast of Madeline Island, and the struggling ferry seemed to breath a sigh of relief when it reached it as it made its morning run.  It will be interesting to see whether the ferry keeps running today with the high winds.  Right now the waves are not too high as the open water is in the lee of the big island.  We are having our roof reshingled but the guys would hardly be able to cling to the roof today.  They did button up their work yesterday so we are not too concerned.
   I went to the sugar bush late yesterday afternoon and collected sap, but it was not running very heavy, a good thing, as I was still tired from the prior day's exertions.  Today is no day to be out in the woods and get in the way of a falling tree or heavy branches.
   As many of my readers may know, I am, among other interests, the volunteer Forester for the City of Bayfield, and one of the projects we have assumed is nominating a 'Tree of the Month" for the city.  The tree for April is a huge and very rare old American Chestnut (Castanea dentata) located on the Southwest corner of  S. Seventh Street and Manypenny Ave.  It is 50" in diameter at breast height (DBH) but unfortunately has a large cavity which renders it quite unsafe.  For that reason it is listed in poor condition and our consulting forester recommends it be taken down.  Also for that reason its value is only about $1,500.  Sooner or later we will need to reluctantly cut it down, as no tree is worth a human life.  The property owner where this tree is located understands the present danger and concern but is also reluctant to see it go.
   American chestnut trees once were a dominant species in the eastern forests of North America.  It was said that a squirrel could jump from chestnut tree to chestnut tree from the Atlantic ocean to the Mississippi River without ever touching the ground.  Its fruit was valuable to humans and animals alike, its wood useful and the beauty of its flower and foliage  unparalleled.  But tragically the Eurasian chestnut blight was imported to North America in the early Twentieth Century and it has all but exterminated this magnificent species.  Whether this tree and a few others in the Bayfield area are truly immune or even resistant to the disease is unknown, but they do survive here, relicts of a once vast population.  There are many chestnut trees in other areas which seem to resist the disease but eventually succumb to it before reaching maturity.  The American Chestnut Foundation conducts research on disease resistant trees but has not found or produced any truly resistant varieties to date.
   We do have a few young American Chestnuts as street trees, seedlings of this and other local trees, and perhaps someday they will be determined to be a truly resistant strain, but as for now they are living museum pieces.  Use the search engine on this blog to find my prior entries about the American chestnut.


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