Tree cutters have been busy hand-cutting about 160 trees to reduce the chances they’ll fall onto homes and property near Bill Bloomquist Rotary Park on Madrona Drive in South Kitsap.
Kitsap County Forester Arno Bergstrom said professional timber harvesters began cutting the trees on Jan. 26 and that all trees should be on the ground Jan. 30.
“The trees will still need to be moved and processed for the trees that are salable,” Bergstrom said. “It’s not just a dangerous tree operation, but a salvage operation.”
He said more trees could be cut down, depending on what the crew finds once some trees are cut.
“We’ll look at what we find once we cut some trees down and see what we find,” Bergstrom said. “Sometimes you can see things a lot different when you can see more of the forest.”
Bergstrom said most of trees are infected with a fungus commonly known as “root rot,” but some are within range of normal disease and risk prevention.
“When you have laminated root rot — based on research — to remove trees within a tree length or tree length and a half,” he said.
According to Bergstrom, most of the trees are 150 feet tall.
“It’s hard to detect because it’s a root disease,” he said. “But you can look at foliage and see the signs if a tree is in distress or decline.”
He said crews focused on Douglas firs, hemlock, cedar and red alder trees.
“A lot of them are in colonized areas where we lost a lot of trees over several decades due to root rot,” Bergstrom said. “Visually it should be more open but not look like a clear cut and a bunch of stumps.”
He noted that most of the Douglas firs are between 80 and 90 years old.
After the fallen trees are removed, Bergstrom and his crew will replant trees in their place.
“We’re not going to replant Douglas firs in the areas we know there is root rot,” he said. “We’ll plant more cedar, red alder and white pine which is resistant to root rot.”
Bergstrom has been the county forester since June 2013 after spending more than 34 years with Washington State University and its extension service.
On June 30, 2012, the park was dedicated to Bill Bloomquist, father of Seattle Mariner and former South Kitsap High School standout Willie Bloomquist.
The two renovated softball fields were funded by the Port Orchard Rotary and serve as home to the South Kitsap Girls Softball Association.