Preparing to enter data from the latest street tree inventory into the computer, City Forester Doug Still says Providence has “a lot of active, engaged tree advocates.” Sixty volunteers–including two Blackstone Parks Conservancy (BPC) board members–and five part time seasonal Parks Department staff completed the count for 2017.
Still will compare the new tree count with the 2006 inventory to see how the urban forest has grown and how the species composition has changed. “Hopefully,” says the forester, “it’s more diverse and there’s been a net gain.”
Like the street trees, those in the two Blackstone parks that the BPC helps manage suffered relatively light damage by winter moths and gypsy moths in 2017. (Rural trees did not fare as well.) The extended wet spring allowed fungi to thrive, including Entomophagia maimaiga, the one that attacks gypsy moths, and a drop in the gypsy moth population is predicted for 2018.
BPC Boulevard Chair Colgate Searle works closely with the city forester to care for the 1.6-mile-long Boulevard Park, and he has ideas for future protection of its trees. Building on the extensive pruning that was done with funds raised by the BPC a decade ago, Searle recommends starting another cycle of complete pruning five years from now.
“Probably in oak trees now if you look up there’s one limb that’s dead,” says Searle, a busy landscape architect who also teaches at RISD. He adds, “It’s much more costly to do on an emergency basis.” To get ahead of the problem, he wants to start pruning the area that needs the most help and then prune a section each year over five years. He would like to see a regular annual pruning after that, when there will be less to do.
Into the Woods in the Blackstone Park Conservation District
In the Conservancy’s December nature program for young children, a light snowfall delighted eager six-to-nine-year-olds and one three-year-old with parents in tow. Education Committee volunteer Rotem Goldschmid led them into the woods above River Road to search for a hand-shaped sassafras leaf and a dead tree with a squirrel nest, among other treasures in the scavenger hunt.