WDAY: The News Leader

Published July 22, 2012, 07:57 PM

The battle between Foresters and the Dutch Elm Disease continues

Grand Forks, ND (WDAY TV) -- Grand Forks Foresters have won the battle -- for the most part.

By: David Schwab, WDAZ, WDAY

Grand Forks, ND (WDAY TV) -- Grand Forks Foresters have won the battle -- for the most part.

The city continues to fight the problem -- but it's now a small bump in a long rugged road to recovery.

This is roughly the 60th American Elm tree this year the Grand Forks Forestry department has cut down..

A program to prevent the spread of the beetle which transmits the diseases started in Grand Forks in 1979, the peak of affected elm trees removal was in the early 90s. "

Mike Fugazzi / Grand Forks Forester : "And in those days we were taken out 12 - 13 hundred a year."

City Forester Mike Fugazzi says that number has dropped to an average of 105 trees a year. He says that's very few, but loosing any shade tree is not a good thing.

Fugazzi : "Kind of like where I live, I have an older house. I don't have central air. I have two big elms around it. So if one of those. I don't care if it only 105 trees that is a big deal."

Fugazzi says their aggressive dutch elm program here has help keep streets, like here on Belmont, lined with elms. The city has even started planting Elm trees again. But only certain new varieties the resist the disease.

Roger Wagner / Horticulturist : "They don't use the word immune. They resist it, 96% or something like that. "

Horticulturist Roger Wagner recommends the Discovery Elm variety. It one of several now resistant to Dutch Elm disease. But he says variety is key.. for those who want the hardiest trees.. plant a Bur Oak, A Spring Snow flowering crab, or an American Linden.

Wagner : "So you don't want to be a research station you want to grow your own trees that make it."

As for Fugazzi, he admits he is doing a little experimenting by planting some disease resistant Elm trees, but doing it very carefully.

Fugazzi : "And we are very selective about where we have been planting them. We tend to plant them in the newer sections of town. Where there is not very many native elms around, don't want to kind of push our luck."

And that includes the Grand Forestry Department removing any affected American Elm within twenty days of detection. Grand Forks stopped planting Ash trees because of the threat from Emerald Ash Borers. The insect was found near Minneapolis.