Despite a record snowfall and fears they’d be mowed down by the area’s moose, 99 of 127 apple trees planted around town about a year ago survived the winter, said resident Joe Poor, who spearheaded the tree-planting beautification effort in 2011.
“I’m tickled pink,” Poor said.
Poor attributed casualties to a November ice storm, voles and efforts at moving 30 feet of snow that fell in town. “A couple by the school lost a battle with heavy snow machinery,” he said.
Area moose seem to have overlooked the trees, he said. “So far, the fears people had about moose haven’t been a problem.”
Scout troops, school classes and individuals helped plant 37 trees during a push in May 2011. Areas planted included Main Street, Old Haines Highway, Beach Road and Portage Street. A few trees along Main and Portage last year bore fruit about the size of ping-pong balls, he said. “We probably had 12 or 15 apples. Some trees produced two or three.”
Poor said he gave away about 90 trees, mainly to townsite residents, after he was unable to secure permission from the Haines Borough to plant them.
Poor has pruned a few trees that were broken during the winter, and he may put tape at the base of some others to prevent voles from debarking them. He put plastic pipe around the bases of 47 trees to reduce predation by rodents last year, but the height of the snowpack this year and exposure to the trunks created by the pipe may have worked against the trees, he said.
Otherwise, Poor said he’ll be leaving the trees this season and let nature take its course. “According to the Internet and people I’ve talked to, you don’t want to fertilize them now. You want them to build up their root systems. Their roots need to spread out in the soil.”
More information is available at Poor’s website, www.thealaskan1.com.