ASTORIA, OR, November 20 –The Astoria Parks and Recreation Department was notified Wednesday of a large crack in the iconic Bigleaf Maple at Violet LaPlante Park in the Alderbrook neighborhood. Parks and Recreation staff and two local certified arborist companies, Bigby’s and Arbor Care, each evaluated the tree and determined that the crack at the center of the roughly 150 year old Maple’s codominant trunk presents a serious hazard for park users and nearby structures.
The tree is split into two dominant trunks that spread in opposite directions. The weight of the upper branches has caused strain on the main trunk resulting in the crack. Over time, the crack became infected with fungus and rot, further weakening the tree.
“The trees strength and stability are currently compromised and it poses a threat to park users and the adjacent properties,” says Jonah Dart-McLean, Parks Plant Maintenance Supervisor.
Recommended options are to remove the tree, grind the stump, and replant in the park or reduce the weight of the tree and connect a 4-ton cable to the cracked arm. This could allow the maple 5 to10 more years of life.
Master Arborist Scott Baker from Tree Solutions in Seattle provided an additional assessment on Friday, concluding that a 15% weight reduction in the upper canopy and the installation of the cable will be sufficient to preserve this large native specimen.
The iconic tree is one of few Bigleaf Maples of its size and age in our Astoria parks; providing shade, animal habitat and added beauty in LaPlante Park.
On Thursday, Arbor Care removed 500 pounds of branches from the canopy of the tree in an effort to immediately reduce the stress on the trunk. In the next two weeks they will be completing the work to prune additional branches and install the cable.
The park and playground remains open and the area surrounding the tree is cordoned off for safety.
If you have questions or comments, please contact Angela Cosby, Director of Parks and Recreation at firstname.lastname@example.org or 503-298-2460