LETTER: You ask the most interesting questions, and I have completed some research with the help of Parks staff and assistance from a former Department of Natural Resources official.
On the issue of impact to the trees, an extensive answer is below. These wraps have been around for years, with no apparent damage. The only observed change was suppression of moss on the tree bark, which I am not sure is a negative. You also raised concerns about the impact on squirrels. While it is true that the western gray squirrel is protected, it is because its habitat was overrun by the eastern gray squirrel, which is what populates Anderson Park. The eastern gray squirrel is not protected. Read More >>
A recent Seattle Times article reported on a locavore who was not content to merely each local fruits and vegetables, but who regularly catches and eats eastern gray squirrels. While not easy to catch, apparently they are delicious in stews. I went to Anderson Park, and it appears to me that the tree wraps neither scare the partially colorblind squirrels, nor inhibit their ability to climb trees. Knitted tree wraps may be the squirrel equivalent of wall-to-wall carpeting. Read More >>
The article you noted on potential damage to wrapped trees actually recommends wrapping trees in certain conditions, but that the wrap should be removed after three to twelve months. Our tree wraps will be gone before that period. Effects on trees wrapped in knitted yarn: "Artificial Light" is a temporary fiber art installation on the outside surface of spruce/fir trees in Anderson Park. The installation will be on view from March 8th through June 3rd, 2012.
The goal is to highlight the history of the Park during Redmond’s Centennial celebrations and share the legacies of pioneering women to the development of our community. This installation includes applying acrylic knit tree wraps on the base of 50 trees. Acrylic does not hold moisture like other natural fibers, run and/or stain the bark nor harbor fungi or insect infestations.
The lead artist, Suzanne Tidwell, has this to say about the test site she has been monitoring over the past three years:
“I have had several of the trees in my yard wrapped for over three years now and no damage has occurred to the 150’+ cedar in my back yard or the fir and spruce. The wrapped trees have withstood the snow and freezing of the winter of 2009/10 conditions as well as a very wet 2010/11 La Nina winter/spring. I occasionally check under the wraps and [have] not found any critters lurking between the layers. Interestingly, there is no moss either.”Previous installations of these tree wraps throughout the Seattle area have demonstrated similar findings: temporarily installing acrylic knit tree wraps has no adverse impact on the health of living trees or animals.
Our mission is to be leaders in providing environmentally responsible and sustainable parks, innovative recreation services, unique art and cultural experiences that continue to build a high quality of life in Redmond.
FURTHER CONSIDERATIONS OF LIVING TREES·
- BARK: Some trees are better suited to hosting occasional coverings of knitting than others. Cedar, fir and spruce trees have extremely thick cambial layers allowing air to circulate between the bark and the knitting. Cherry, plum, and other decorative trees with smoother bark surfaces do not allow the same air circulation.·
- CIRCULATION: The knitting is an open mesh which allows air to circulate. The knitting is fairly loose against the surface of the trees and does not inhibit air flow around the surface of the tree nor constrict growth. ·
- RAIN: The trees are adapted to life in a rainy climate. The open mesh weave enables the acrylic fibers to dry quickly from the rain. ·
- HABITAT: The knitted surface is in many ways comparable to the moss that naturally grows on bark in our Northwest climate. Moss does not inhibit the mobility of rodents, birds or other animals that nest in trees.·
- MOSS: Moss already growing on the surface of the tree when covered by knitting, may yellow due to lack of sunlight. The moss will regain its full green color within a few weeks of sunlight after removal of the knitting.
Best wishes- Hank Myers
Redmond City Councilmember
Photo appears as Anderson Park
Redmond resident, Paige Norman received this letter from Councilmember Hank Myers and she gave me permission to post it. It was copied to Mayor Marchione and Parks Director Craig Larson. B.Y.