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A second life for elms

by Stephanie Robinson

August 6, 2018

Sacramento is one of only a few places still graced by old, towering elms that line our city streets. While we are fortunate to have about 2,000 elms left in city limits, we inevitably lose some elms each year to old age and Dutch elm disease. 

Through our Save the Elms Program , volunteers monitor these trees and report any symptoms of Dutch elm disease (DED).  


The arborists at the City of Sacramento then examine all of the trees we report and confirm whether the tree is infected with DED. In some cases, the City Arborists will girdle an infected tree, removing a ring around the tree to prevent the spread of the disease to other nearby elms.



Sick trees are quickly scheduled for removal. City crews carefully take the tree down in a manner that maximizes its utility for lumber.



They then go out of their way to deliver any salvageable logs to our Urban Wood Rescue yard.



To prevent the migration of any elm bark beetles that may be present, we immediately de-bark the elm logs or quarantine them in thick plastic sheeting. Once the bark is removed, it reveals galleries where these beetles burrowed into the wood to lay their eggs.



By the time the wood is ready to mill, any beetles and eggs are long gone. Only their galleries remain, visible on the edges of the slabs. These elms are a piece of Sacramento history, their galleries beautiful patterns and harsh reminders of the importance of caring for our urban forest.


Special thanks to City of Sacramento Urban Forestry, Councilmember Eric Guerra, and Councilmember Jeff Harris for supporting our Save the Elms Program. We are also forever grateful to the hundreds of volunteers who monitored these elms over the years. We surely would not have many left if not for the care and dedication of so many people.

Want to learn how you can get involved? Contact us to find out.