Tree Protection doesn’t have to be Anti-Beaver

| February 1, 2014 | 1 Comment

The tree-protection project at Greenbelt Lake was in full force today, with 26 volunteers coming out to install wire around trees to protect them from beaver damage.  This fun community/eco project will be repeated next Saturday Feb 8, from 9-12:30.  (Details below.)

This joint project of Greenbelt Public Works and CHEARS was directed by Brian Townshend of Public Works, below right, and CHEARS volunteer coordinator Alex Palmer on the left.  Brian explained that the first trees targeted for protection are those closest to the path – for safety reasons – and then the slower-growing, most valuable trees, like white oaks.  He’s also encouraging homeowners near the lake to come out and learn how to protect the trees on their own property.


After these two beaver-deterrent projects, there will be another volunteer event in the spring to cut away English ivy from trees.  In accordance with good tree-protection prAnimals 1-1-1980 12-00-09 AM 3072x2304 1-1-1980 12-00-05 AM 2304x3072actices, they won’t be pulling ivy off the trees, however, because that can rip away bark.  Not good!  It’s best (and far easier) to just cut again a 6-12 inch section all around the trunk and then let the ivy gradually die.  The problems with ivy on trees trees are many, including:

  • Ivy provides the ideal home for all sorts of harmful insects, including gypsy moths.
  • Its sheer weight can easily kill smaller trees, like dogwoods.
  • When allowed to grow more than 10 feet or so vertically, it matures, changes form, and makes berries, which are then distributed by birds all over the place.
But back to the topic at hand – beavers!  There’s been some discussion locally about going after the beavers directly, even killing them, but Brian quickly comes to the defense of the controversial critters.  Studies show that beavers can increase the variety of plants, birds, fish, reptiles and amphibians, as well as mammals such as water voles, otters and shrews, producing as much as a four-fold increase in biodiversity, versus comparable areas without them.  That’s because the dams they build create ponds and wetlands that provide critical habitat.
On the other hand, they DO fell a lot of trees, and increasingly so around Greenbelt Lake.  (And their reasons for doing that are varied, too:  to eat the cambium and in season, the leaves, to build their dams, and to maintain the desired size of their impressive teeth. Thus, the need for protecting the trees.


Above and below, treehuggers at work!  On the right above, Susan Stewart is cutting away enough English ivy to cause it to die back, and then applying the wire.  That way, the wire won’t have to be removed when the ivy-removal project takes place in the spring.



Alex Palmer determines the best way to apply chicken wire without unsightly pruning.

Saturday, February 8:  Volunteer to Protect Greenbelt’s Trees 

Meet at Greenbelt Public Works at 555 Crescent Rd.  Park in main lot for Buddy Attick Park.  9 am-12:30pm.  All training, equipment, and instruction will be given by Public Works staff.  Participants should feel comfortable working outside for 2-3 hours in cool and damp weather. Some heavy lifting might be required. Volunteers under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult.




Category: Green

About the Author ()

Susan Harris has been writing online since 2005 - about gardening. (E.g., Garden Rant, Lawn Reform Coalition, and Behnkes Nursery.) In 2012 she started this community blog for and about her adopted hometown. She also created and curates the Greenbelt Maryland Youtube Channel and does digital promotion for several Greenbelt organizations.

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  1. Altoria Ross says:

    May we run your article in the News Review? If so, do you have more photo captions?


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