Downtown trees inspected

By on August 26, 2015

Everyone knows taking a walk is good for your health.

But a recent group-walk in Downtown Ephrata turned out to be a boost for the borough’s tree population as well. 20150728_102333 (Medium)

Julianne Schieffer, a Penn State Extension urban forester who advises Ephrata Borough, led that  group on a tree survey in  Downtown Ephrata.

Ephrata Shade Tree Commission members George DiIlio, Chandra Mast, and Justin Snyder  were accompanied by borough environmental resource manager Jay Snyder, Councilman Tony Kilkuskie, and resident Jim Brodt; all are trained Tree Tenders. Resident Dan Sweigart also joined the tour.

Sweigart, who had been critical of the Shade Tree Commission, was clearly impressed by Schieffer’s expertise.

“I can tell you that I am 100 percent on the same page with Penn State Extension Urban Forester, Julianne Schieffer,” Sweigart said.

Schieffer, was happy to engage with Sweigart on a two-hour tree survey on July 28 in which  Mast recorded and updated the variety, heath, and maintenance required for each tree along Main Street.

She inspected dozens of trees in Ephrata’s inventory made up of linden trees, zelkovas, many maples, including sugar maple, red sunset, and other varieties.

“One of the things about red maples is that as a species it has a tendency towards girdling,” Schieffer noted when inspecting a tree near The Ephrata Review building

Girdling can result in the death of the area above the girdle over time, she said. A branch completely girdled will fail and when the main trunk of a tree is girdled, the entire tree will die, if it cannot regrow from above to bridge the wound.

Sweigart said Schieffer was a knowledgeable “breath of “fresh air”  who “corrected much of the misinformation” circulating about trees on Main Street.

Among his concerns have been the lack of diversity among trees being planted and some trees recently cut down along Ephrata Borough’s central business district.

Sweigart felt some vindication from Schieffer’s comments.

“I was also encouraged to hear Julianne recommend more varieties of trees to be planted as replacements,” he noted.20150728_101512 (Medium)

Much of Schieffer’s input in the survey identified ways to treat unhealthy trees and noted that a significant number trees that were misidentified by variety on the Shade Tree Commission street tree map.

For instance, sugar maples were identified as red maples, red maples were identified as lindens, and zelkovas were identified as honey locust.

Moving along, Schieffer noted that many trees require additional maintenance, many, such as the little leaf linden tree near Ephrata National Bank are “drought stressed.”

Schieffer suggested the removal of  a sugar maple, which she called a “princess tree that requires an ultra perfect environment.”

“A street is not that (environment),” she said. “The last thing I’d recommend is a sugar maple obviously.”

Still, Schieffer was surprised by a silver maple tree near China 20150728_101044 (Medium) Taste restaurant. It had girdling issues, was damaged during construction upgrades of the Whistle Stop Plaza, and impaired by trucks that hit it during the Ephrata Fair.

“I was worried that this one wasn’t going to make it,” said Schieffer who last inspected trees here in 2011.  “It’s doing really well.”

Patrick Burns is a staff writer and social media editor for The Ephrata Review. He welcomes your questions and comments and can be reached at or at 721-4455.

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