The most innovative designers consciously reject the standard option box and cultivate an appetite for thinking wrong.
KILCONA’S ENDANGERED TREES
Our hats are off to KPDC member and former Director, Ed Skomro!!
Ed loves Kilcona Park. He appreciates its rustic, rural quality. He often walks his dog in the on-leash area, checking the ponds for resident and migrating waterfowl, listening to songbirds, and keeping an eye open for deer, hare, beaver, muskrat, and other wildlife. Ed loves Kilcona’s aspen forest and its big old cottonwood trees. So, when he noticed that a resident beaver was felling cottonwoods again, he decided to do something. He’d seen this happen before and he knew he had to act quickly to prevent the loss of any more trees.
Ed took photos of the damage and contacted Kilcona Park Dog Club.
KPDC contacted the Park Superintendent and the City Naturalist. For years, the City’s solution to problem beavers has been to trap or shoot them. But howls of protest from Kilcona animal lovers has the club and the City exploring other options.
In the past week the City responded to Ed’s alert, banding ten of the most vulnerable trees with stucco wire. KPDC and the City plan to protect many other trees the same way. And while we’ve solved the problem in the short-term, Ed’s action got us thinking about the urgent need for Kilcona’s dog park community to protect our own share of Winnipeg’s endangered forest canopy.
Winnipeggers have never been more aware of the extent to which our urban forest is threatened. Almost a quarter of a million American elms, the largest population in North America, is at risk of being completely destroyed. The invasive emerald ash borer has devastated urban tree canopies wherever it has touched down. In Winnipeg, the borer and cottony ash psyllid (jumping tree lice) threaten to wipe out 350,000 green ash in the next decade, including those at Kilcona.
Imagine what our beautiful city will look like with a half million fewer trees!!
But Ed reminds us that insects and beavers are not the only threat to Kilcona’s trees. As uncomfortable as it is to think about, our beloved fur children kill trees by peeing on them. In high-use dog parks like Kilcona, trees are really in trouble. Over the past decade, most of the trees around the parking lot have died a slow death from dog urine poisoning.
Dog urine is highly acidic. When dogs pee on trees, two things happen. Their urine seeps into the soil and causes severe damage to the roots. The acid in the urine eats through the bark – the tree’s protective barrier – into the cambium and wood. Repeated hits of urine create an “open wound” on the base on the tree which never has a chance to heal. With its defense system destroyed, the tree becomes susceptible to diseases, pests, dehydration and nutrient loss, and succumbs to a premature death.
Look around the base of Kilcona’s trees. Most of the damage is in the lower two feet of the trunk. Most trees are bleached white from urine. Many have deep fissures in their bark and cracks on the trunk. And on some, the bark has peeled off just above the ground.
Of course we’re not telling you to stop your dog from peeing at the park 😊. But you can do something to help. It’s simple! Redirect your dog whenever you see it heading for a tree.
KPDC will continue to explore other options to protect trees from dog urine poisoning.
KPDC Volunteers Chip In and Win Great Prizes!
Gregg Iannaccore and Berry Hill Landscaping staff
On Sunday Kilcona Park Dog Club volunteers and Berry Hill Landscaping staff – armed with wheelbarrows, shovels, rakes and 5-gallon pails – set to work widening and levelling another 400 metres of badly-eroded trails in the off-leash area. The weather was, frankly, miserable! Temperatures hovered around zero. Blustery winds created an uncomfortable windchill, and there were even a few snow showers. But at least there were no mosquitos!
And at the end of the work bee, volunteers were rewarded with hot slices of Boston Pizza, courtesy of North Kildonan Councillor Jeff Browaty.
Volunteers attacked the mountains of wood chip that have become familiar features on Kilcona’s landscape over the past few months. They hauled, shoveled and spread a thick layer of chips in several low-lying sections of the trail network – areas that turn into dog-magnet mudholes whenever it rains! The chips will make the rutted, uneven trails more user-friendly and easier for people to navigate.
Taking a short break from labour-intensive task of raking heavy, wet wood chips into place, trail steward Jai Reid said, “This is really nice. Walking on wood chips feels like walking on brand new carpet!”
To avoid further damaging the trails with heavy equipment, Kilcona Park staff deliver chips to the trails during the winter when the ground is frozen. While wood chips are the quickest, easiest way to make off-leash trails less muddy and more passable, they are not a permanent fix.
Wood-chips compact and degrade and must be topped up on a regular basis. They also prevent evaporation and hold snow melt and rain water longer that would happen if the trails remain uncovered. The wet, heavy clay underneath the chips remains soft and is prone to rutting from even light foot and vehicle traffic. And by absorbing standing water, wood chips contribute to Kilcona’s ongoing drainage problems.
To prevent trail erosion and washouts, a 2011 Kilcona off-leash trail study recommended surfacing trails with crushed rock and installing ditches and culverts to drain water quickly into the retention ponds. The estimated cost – a half million dollars. With a cash-strapped City Council, this will not be happening any time soon.
Over the past three years approximately 1200 metres of trails along the North Pond Trail, the Hill Trail, and trails in the northern part of the off-leash area have been mulched with wood chips – about 400 metres each spring. KPDC thanks our amazing volunteers! A special thanks to Miles Mac student volunteer, Soundarya Raj!
The winners of this year’s “Eager Beaver Trail Chippers” draw are:
Christine Quinlan – $50 Sprockett’s Doggy Day Camp gift certificate
Nicole Doherty – $50 Sprockett’s Doggy Day Camp gift certificate
Andrew Robertson – Pet Valu (Kildonan Green) gift certificate – free dog wash
Angie Zalondek – Pet Valu (Kildonan Green) gift certificate – free dog wash
Ann Gay – Pet Valu (Kildonan Green) gift certificate – free dog wash
Colleen Hill – Pet Valu (Kildonan Green) gift certificate – free dog wash
Cory Torch – Pet Valu (Kildonan Green) gift certificate – free dog wash
Dave Brown – Pet Valu (Kildonan Green) gift certificate – free dog wash
Dylan Stevenson – Pet Valu (Kildonan Green) gift certificate – free dog wash
Ericka Oelke – Pet Valu (Kildonan Green) gift certificate – free dog wash
Jeremy McLellan – Pet Valu (Kildonan Green) gift certificate – free dog wash
Lynne Gauthier – Pet Valu (Kildonan Green) gift certificate – free dog wash
Mini Polson – Pet Valu (Kildonan Green) gift certificate – free dog wash
Pat Kennett – Pet Valu (Kildonan Green) gift certificate – free dog wash
Paul Shelton – Pet Valu (Kildonan Green) gift certificate – free dog wash
Ray Grymusa – Pet Valu (Kildonan Green) gift certificate – free dog wash
Tyler White – Pet Valu (Kildonan Green) gift certificate – free dog wash
Gail Warywoda – Shippam summer fun pack – sunglasses and drink holders
Soundarya Raj – Shippam sunglasses