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River birch on Buffalo Bill Ave selected as Tree of WinterTell North Platte what you think
Courtesy Photo­Image
1301 S. Buffalo Bill Ave.

The unusual bark of the river birch is prominent during winter, which is why the North Platte Tree Board selected it as the tree of this winter season.  

Not only are the sculpture and grace of tree branches obvious during the winter, so is the bark on the tree.

The distinctive bark of the river birch is cinnamon color, and it naturally curls and peels, giving it a unique texture, Tree Board member Tia McGuire said.

As the river birch name suggests, the tree naturally grows along river banks, but it can planted as a landscape tree almost anywhere in the U.S. The tree is valued for relatively rapid growth, tolerance of wetness as well as some drought, with spreading limbs and relatively good resistance to birch borer.

This tree is in the yard of Muriel Harper, 1301 S. Buffalo Bill Ave., McGuire said. A small ceremony to highlight this tree will take place at noon on Tuesday, Feb. 7 at that address. A sign will be placed near the tree for a couple weeks, and the public is encouraged to drive by to take a look.    

The river birch has not yet achieved the popularity of many maples and oaks as a landscape tree, but it is well on its way, McGuire said. In 2002, one was named the Urban Tree of the Year by the Society of Municipal Arborists.    

Emphasis is being put on alternative tree species, because local ash trees are expected to come under attack soon by the Emerald Ash Borer, McGuire said. She said the borer is “a nasty little insect that will likely destroy every ash tree in town, just as elm trees were destroyed in the recent past.”

Property owners are encouraged to start considering what trees would be good candidates to replace the ash trees in their yards.

For more than 30 years, North Platte has received a Tree City USA designation, due to the diversity and abundance of trees that are suited to the area, McGuire said. Residents are encouraged to start evaluating various trees for consideration, since the Emerald Ash Borer has already been confirmed in Nebraska, and it's on-the-move, she said.

A list of suggested trees for the North Platte area can be obtained from the office of Lyle Minshull, the city Parks Supervisor, at 535-6700.

McGuire said a companion tree can be established before an ash tree has to come down. 

The Nebraska Forestry Department and local tree boards are focusing on education in order to maintain a vibrant and healthy urban tree canopy. 

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The North Platte Bulletin - Published 2/3/2017
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