Dutch Elm Disease (DED) is an infectious fungal disease that affects the vascular system of native elm trees, causing them to wilt and die. DED is most active during the summer months of June through August. To limit the spread of DED, forestry staff conduct DED surveys of all trees in the city, including all private trees within city limits. DED is spread in two ways: through elm bark beetles and root grafts. Elm bark beetles feed on elm trees and transport the fungus from tree to tree. In root graft transport, the fungus can be transferred from one tree to another if the roots of an infected elm tree have grown together with the roots of an adjacent elm tree. Depending on the age and health of the tree, DED can kill an elm in as little as a few weeks to a year or two. It is important to get these infected trees removed and disposed of as soon as possible to reduce the spread to other trees in the surrounding area. The objectives of the DED program are early detection, prompt removal, and proper disposal of infected and dead elm trees. Forestry removes approximately 70-100 DED-infected elm trees each summer.
Infected elm trees on boulevards and other City of Moorhead property are removed by Forestry staff. Infected and dead elms on private property are inspected and marked for removal by Forestry staff, however it is the property owner’s responsibility to remove marked elms on private property. Once marked, Forestry will notify property owners and work with them to make sure that trees are removed as promptly as possible. Property owners may remove the tree themselves or hire a licensed tree contractor to perform the removal.
The DED Program is further outlined in City Code
DED infected elm debris is disposed of at the City of Moorhead Compost site. Homeowners that remove their own tree can contact forestry to schedule a pickup, with no restrictions on the size of the pile. Elm material will be picked up with the log loader at no charge. If a contractor is hired to remove a tree, they must haul all debris from the job site. Elm wood with the bark intact is not allowed to be stored within city limits from April through September. Elm wood used for firewood over the winter must be used by April 1 or properly discarded to help stop the population growth of elm bark beetles that could spread DED.
Photo Credits: DED branch (William Jacobi, Colorado State University, Bugwood.org), DED tree (Joseph OBrien, USDA Forest Service, Bugwood.com)