June 18, 2002
Serving Western Deschutes County
Sisters, Oregon

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Students inventory city park trees
By Jim Cornelius

Trees in the Village Green Park are not so healthy.
Sisters' parks are in fair shape, although some trees are suffering from mistletoe and needle blight.

That was the conclusion of an urban forestry study conducted by Sisters High School students in the IEE (Interdisciplinary Environmental Expedition) program.

Matt Harp, Jeff Boswell, Pat McFarland, Josh Kelleher, and Michael Forcum presented their study to the Sisters City Council on Thursday, June 13.

Trees in Creekside City Park were generally healthier than in the Village Green, according to the students. This is because there is more space between trees at Creekside.

The students, assisted by Cindy Glick and Pat Miles of the Forest Service, measured the height and girth of each tree and they noted characteristics such as forked tops, dead limbs, scars and butt swell.

Juniper mistletoe is a common problem, with some trees suffering serious infestations from the parasite. Mistletoe can eventually kill a tree. The students recommended pruning off mistletoe and thinning trees to inhibit the spread of the parasite.

Some ponderosa pines are suffering from needle blight -- a fungal disease.

"Needle blight won't kill a ponderosa pine, but it does make it more susceptible to other diseases and insect infestation," said Pat McFarland.

The students used Global Positioning System technology to locate and map each tree in the park. Their maps will be kept at City Hall for future reference. Eventually, the IEE Urban Forestry program will inventory and map all the trees within the city limits of Sisters.

The students also examined park usage and regulations.

"It became obvious to us that the parks in Sisters are well used and necessary to the community," said Matt Harp.

However, Harp noted, events staged at the parks can cause damage and the students recommended that the city enforce its rules and regulations more forcefully, with consequences for violations.

They also recommended creating signage to direct visitors to the parks.

Councilor John Rahm said he would like to see some follow-through from the students to implement recommendations.

That will be left to future IEE classes, since the current class has completed its term.

"I really appreciate the input," Rahm said. "I think you did a great job."

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