Submitted by the Town of Friday Harbor.
A significant portion of one of the two 100-year-old Dutch elm trees in Memorial Park broke last night taking out a streetlamp and blocking access to the bottom of the Spring Street traffic circle. No injuries or additional property damage has been reported. Preliminary inspections by certified arborists from two local companies identified the cause as severe rot. A detailed report will be completed next week.
Due to the sudden, unexpected breakage and the resulting imbalance of the remaining tree, the public is advised to exercise extreme caution and avoid the area until the stability of both trees can be assured. On the advice of the arborists, the Town is removing the upper branches of the tree in an effort to avoid further breakage. The future of the trees will be determined after a thorough, professional evaluation.
“The Town’s priority is to extend the life of these iconic trees but not at the expense of public safety,” said Town Administrator Denice Kulseth, adding, “We are thankful that this happened when no pedestrians or vehicles were in the area.” Kulseth further stated, “We all love these trees. They are the welcome mat to our Town and a beacon that we have come home. However, we realize that it was incredibly fortunate that no one was injured, and we understand we may need to make a very difficult decision about the future of these grand trees. We trust the public will support whatever measures must be taken to eliminate future risk of harm.”
The two elms were planted in May 1922 by the Women’s Study Club as a memorial to those lost in WWI, one representing Army losses and one representing Navy losses.
Questions regarding the elms may be directed to the Town Administrator at email@example.com.