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App lets you report trees plagued with Dutch elm disease

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    SACRAMENTO, California (KCRA) — A disease is threatening hundreds of Sacramento’s oldest and largest trees, and now the next time you’re out for a walk or bike ride, you can actually help protect these trees.

The Sacramento Tree Foundation is building an army of “citizen scientists” who are trained to spot Dutch elm disease, and they’ve created a special app where people can flag and monitor potential problems.

Around 100 years ago, millions of elm trees were planted around the world. As Dutch elm disease began killing them off, some communities lost all of their elms to the disease and others took the step of proactively cutting them all down.

Sacramento took a different approach, working to protect them. As a result, the city now has among the most elm trees in the world with 1,800. Some of them are as tall as 130 feet. In addition to providing shade and helping to clean the air, they also help the soil absorb water.

Unfortunately, there is no cure or treatment for Dutch elm disease. Once a tree is infected it has to be cut down to keep the disease from spreading to other elms. Making this even more critical, Sacramento Tree Foundation Community Forester Alex Binck warns once they’re gone they may never be replaceable.

“A lot of these trees grew in place before the city was developed as the way it is today,” Binck said. “Back then the streets were narrower, they were designed for pedestrians and horse and buggy, that kind of thing, so there was a lot more space for those trees to grow. So we’re not totally sure, but we don’t think that trees planted in today’s built-out environment would ever achieve the size and majesty of the trees we are talking about today.”

In addition to the “Save The Elms Program” (STEP), the Sacramento Tree Foundation has information about how to get your trees ready for the hot summer months, how to select the right tree for your yard, and how to plant trees to ensure they’ll be healthy.

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Article Topic Follows: Regional News

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