Tree planting along Carlisle Street in Harrison an effort to ‘preserve heritage’

Efforts continue to preserve the majestic elm trees along Carlisle Street in Harrison, and with good reason.

It is the largest stand of elms in a suburban setting in Pennsylvania, according to Gene Becker, president of the Allegheny Shade Tree Association.

The 10-member group of neighbors formed in 2004 with the goal of tending to the towering row of nearly 180 trees that line both sides of the residential street.

On Saturday, the group will dole out 10 young trees to residents to replace those afflicted with Dutch elm disease, which is a fungus spread by elm bark beetles or by infected roots. Bark peels from infected trees, making the disease somewhat easy to notice.

Planting was to be performed by the homeowners. The tree association foots the bill for the trees, which have a root ball of about 2 feet and are delivered bagged in burlap.

“Having a tree-lined street is like the white picket fence,” association member Ryan Lilly said. “It’s what everyone wants.

“It preserves the beauty of the street and makes it appealing. Everyone enjoys the shade while they’re out walking their dog or talking to neighbors.”

On Friday, Lilly and Becker traveled to purchase the 10 new Accolade elm trees, which are a hybrid disease-resistant variety. A trailer was lent by another neighbor, Jason Kreinbrook.

“A lot of people want to pitch in,” Becker said.

The newly planted trees will grow to about 30 feet in 10 years.

The association solicits a suggested $25 donation from each resident of the street to keep up with the replacement project.

This round of planting brings the total number of trees planted by the association to 74.

In recent years, at least three of the massive century-old trees have taken a hit in powerful storms.

Last July, two trees were uprooted and fell in the 1200 block, damaging a roof. None were injured.

Earlier this month, a 110-year-old tree fell perfectly between two homes in the 1100 block.

Passersby got a glimpse of the tree’s might through its 20-foot-wide root system that stood at the edge of the sidewalk.

Becker said the planting project benefits every resident by boosting real estate values. It also provides beauty to a slew of nonresidents, like those who wander down Carlisle for a leisurely walk or bike ride, he said.

“We have many joggers that come down the street,” he said. “There are so many benefits to maintaining these trees that have been here more than 100 years. It’s preserving heritage.”

Tawnya Panizzi is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Tawnya at 724-226-7726, or via Twitter

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