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Delaware Avenue: Cleaning up a mess of dead trees

2016 was a rough year for trees along Delaware Avenue. The drought-like weather conditions wreaked havoc on many trees throughout the city, and the city’s ash trees were hit by the Emerald Ash Borer scourge*. By mid to late summer, numerous trees on Delaware stood dead or dying, creating a scene right out of a Tim Burton movie.

Today, all of the dead trees are in the process of being removed. I spotted twenty that had already been lopped off, between W. Utica and Canisius High School, and the tree cutting crew was still hard at work. Adding to the severity of the situation, they had only begun to tackle the east side of the street – work on the west side had not even begun. Plus, there were even more dead trees waiting in line for lopping on the East Side, further towards Gates Circle.

I remember heading down Delaware Avenue last summer, thinking to myself how awful the drought had been, and how many of the trees were already dead or dying. I’m happy to see that work is underway to get these trees removed, and hopefully replanted in the near future.  There are a lot of places in Buffalo that needs trees, but Delaware Avenue is one of the most important tree-lined streets in the city.

*Thanks to BRO reader Jane G. who pointed out that the Emerald Ash Borer was the cause of many of the dead ash trees on Delaware Avenue

Written by queenseyes


Newell Nussbaumer is 'queenseyes' - Eyes of the Queen City and Founder of Buffalo Rising. Co-founder Elmwood Avenue Festival of the Arts. Co-founder Powder Keg Festival that built the world's largest ice maze (Guinness Book of World Records). Instigator behind Emerald Beach at the Erie Basin Marina. Co-created Flurrious! winter festival. Co-creator of Rusty Chain Beer. Instigator behind Saturday Artisan Market (SAM) at Canalside. Founder of The Peddler retro and vintage market. Instigator behind Liberty Hound @ Canalside. Throws The Witches Ball at The Hotel @ The Lafayette, and the Madd Tiki Winter Luau. Other projects: Navigetter.

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  • UrbanLove

    I suspect this was, at least in part, due to the ash border, which is decimating elms throughout the country.

    • Ron Reinhardt

      The emerald borer destroys ash trees.

      • BufChester

        Which those were.

        • 300miles

          So then these dead trees had nothing to do with a drought.

          • Captain Picard

            Yeah, but a drought is more global-warming-ish than the ash borer so it makes for more juicy speculation.

          • BufChester

            You give QE too much credit.

          • Texpat

            Captain actually the spread of the ash borer is widely attributed to the warming climate which is allowing it to live in areas it never did before

          • BufChester

            Almost certainly not.

      • OldFirstWard

        The emerald ash borer has decimated ash trees everywhere. There is a systemic treatment that gets injected into the tree at the around the base of the trunk and has a working effectiveness of two to three years. It does work. The oldest tree in Buffalo, the giant Sycamore located at 402 Franklin St. just north of Virginia St., was just recently treated with the same pesticide. The Ash trees die from the top down when infected by the borer so if you see a tree with more than a third of its upper branches bare, then it’s a goner.

        As I pointed out in an earlier thread, Niagara Falls side streets have many mature ash trees that are completely dead and if the negligent mayor would have been proactive, the parks department could have saved these beautiful shade trees for a few hundred dollars each. Instead, the city will have to pay thousands to remove them, grind the stumps, clean the mess, and plant new trees.

        • BufChester

          Seems odd that the same chemical that protects Ash trees from an insect, also protects Sycamores from a fungus. Which pesticide is that?

    • NorthBuf

      Dutch elm disease, a fungal disease of elms, is spread by several bark beetles, most importantly, the smaller European elm bark beetle (Scolytus mutistriatus)
      Globalization of trade has decimated many American species from trees to fish and it still continues today.

    • Terrier1

      BINGO! We have a winner! Many of the trees that finally died were the ones wearing the emerald ash borer warning signs. We lost a tree behind our house near Bryant.

  • Everything is Great

    It’s a challenging choice for the COB what to plant because the Green Code doesn’t allow for trees that grow over 3 stories unless Mother Nature applies for a variance. The folks on Lancaster already have their antiGod lawn signs up.

    • Johnny Pizza

      I’m sure they’ll plant more of the crappy trees that they did after the October storm. You know the ones that dump pollen on everyone’s car? I swear Delta Sonic paid for those specific trees to be planted to drum up business.

      • NorthBuf

        One needs to remember not every tree can be an urban roadside tree. It needs to live through very salty winters here.

      • Randy503

        There are male trees and female trees. Male trees give off pollen and female trees absorb it. The problem in many cities is that they plant only male trees (for a variety of reasons) and not many female trees, which increases the pollen in the air. It’s not only a problem for cars but for people with asthma and other respiratory diseases.

        If we had a parks superindendant who actually knew something about botany and cared, we could have a nicely treed city.

        • Johnny Pizza

          You learn something everyday. I’m not even sure what kind of tree it is, but after they came down the street and pruned them back the following year it was a horrendous amount of pollen. Damn near pulled my window off the tracks when I tried to put the window down it was so caked onto the car.

        • Terrier1

          We do have a botanist on staff. He worked in Central Park in NYC before coming here. (I can’t remember his name though – sorry!)
          About six years ago, outside contractors mistakenly removed two live flowering chestnuts from in front of my house. The people at City Hall were great – the botanist gave me a choice of trees to plant, based on hardiness. They brought two white pin oaks that have done very well.
          I water and fertilize them myself and they are well established now.

  • disqus_etPpWltdKD

    Can we ummmmmmmmm maybe try to find out if new ones would be planted?

    • Paul Joseph

      I would hope so.

    • Terrier1

      The new trees are going in right now, as the old ones are removed.

  • Joseph15

    Ever hear of varying species? I’m sure there are at least five that have a good chance of thriving. If one doesn’t make it the others survive.

    • Terrier1

      They DO replace the trees with different species – pin oaks, ginkos, locusts.
      I have seen them all being planted in the last several years on city streets.

  • NorthBuf

    Wouldn’t it have been much cheaper in the long run to have installed large watering bags when the problem was first seen last year.

    • Paul Joseph

      These were all ash trees so water was not the problem


    Is there any journalistic credibility left anymore??? Come on Queen’s Eyes, we all love your flowery and over the top positive posts, but those were Ash Trees that had succumbed to the Emerald Ash Borer. Before you speculate on what caused things, maybe you should consult with some experts or people that actually know what they’re talking about….

  • bufforward

    This thread is a good example of why I enjoy the comments section on this site- I find myself learning a variety of new and useful information from the well informed posters here. Good on ya’ll.

  • Mr.GreenFatigues

    Sobering numbers, from 60 years ago. Compared to 1956, Buffalo is almost totally denuded, “From 300,000 to 350,000 trees” – Buffalo has perhaps 10% so many, today – and those are often in poor shape. Buffalo’s original “City of Trees” status was due to an actual handful of dedicated tree enthusiasts; it was a one-time historical quirk with no equivalent today.