By Joe Smillie
Peninsula Daily News
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“They were unstable,” said Mike Howe, executive communications director for the PUD, of the trees that lined Kitchen-Dick Road near its intersection with Old Olympic Highway.
“As we were removing them, we discovered some pretty significant root rot,” Howe said.
One of the trees that stood between 50 and 60 feet tall blew over in a storm Dec. 7 and knocked out a power line, cutting electrical service for some 10,000 customers, Howe said.
“Obviously, if the trees are going to grow into or fall across one of our lines, that's something we're going to have to do something about,” Howe said.
The trees were planted as a windbreak for Weyerhaeuser Sequim Seed Orchard, a nursery for Douglas firs that are used to replant timberlands.
“They were rotten — and they're a hazard,” Steve Mitchell, seed orchard supervisor, said of the poplars.
Mitchell said the poplars were used to catch airborne pollen so it would not contaminate the infant firs in the orchard.
The downed trees will be mulched into hog fuel, Mitchell said, adding that he didn't know if new trees would be planted along the roadside.
Mitchell added that several other stands of windbreak poplars are reaching the end of their lifespans and soon will have to be removed as well.
He was unsure when that might happen or whether they would be replanted.
John Rollston, owner of Sequim Valley Aircraft, an aircraft-repair shop at the Sequim Valley Airport, said landings will be easier for pilots now that the trees are gone.
The trees had required pilots to take a “dog-leg” approach to the runway during landing at the airport, which is about a half-mile southeast of the seed farm, he said.
“Everybody's going to be stoked about that,” Rollston said.
Andrew Sallee, president of the Sequim Valley Airport, was out of town and could not be reached for comment.
Tall trees have been an issue for the William R. Fairchild International Airport in Port Angeles, where the Federal Aviation Administration has said that some Douglas fir trees in adjacent Lincoln Park, which is owned by the city, are too tall for the approach to an airport runway.
A Lincoln Park Master Plan developed by a consultant with the Port of Port Angeles, which owns the airport, will go before the Port Angeles City Council sometime this year.
It is expected to be considered by the Port Angeles Parks, Recreation & Beautification Commission for a recommendation next month.
Sequim-Dungeness Valley Editor Joe Smillie can be reached at 360-681-2390, ext. 5052, or at email@example.com.