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Avery Park in Corvallis will be closed for four days starting Monday because of work to remove more than a dozen dying fir trees.

“There are a lot of trees in this park that are highly stressed by the recent climate, including hot summers and wet winters,” said Jonathan Pywell, urban forester for the Corvallis Parks and Recreation Department. “These trees are less able to defend themselves against insect and disease attack. As a result each year we see a few more trees in the park decline in vigor, die or fail.”

The city hopes to mill and use the timber from the cut trees, but officials won’t know how practical that will be until crews start the felling process. Pywell said it’s possible that some of trees will “fall apart,” thus the closure of the park for safety reasons.

"This is not a time for folks to come and watch," Pywell said. "They should plan to stay out of the park during this work."

The trees that will be removed are mostly Douglas fir, but there are some grand fir in the mix as well, Pywell said. The problem with trees is easily visible, with their upper branches virtually devoid of needles. Pywell estimates that the trees are between 75 and 150 years old, with some exceeding 150 feet in height. Some of the dead trees will be left standing as habitat snags.

Pywell said that it’s likely that many of the park’s trees might date to the 1845 Joseph C. Avery land claim. At that time the land that became the park was used as a woodlot. Pywell also emphasized that many healthy fir trees remain in the park.

“Some of these Doug firs will be happy for another 200 years,” he said.

Pywell said the city plans to replace the trees being removed with species that will fare better in current climate conditions. Over the long term, the Parks and Recreation Department hopes to create an arboretum in the park.

“I’ve got a list of 90 trees that I want to add here,” Pywell said. “We are looking for a broader variety of trees than we have now. We hope to add interpretive signs and bring more people to the park. It’s a good location, close to OSU and a lot of people ride through it.”

Pywell mentioned chestnuts and northern white oak as possible additions to the park, as well as several varieties of cedar.

“We do want large evergreens to be part of the park,” he said.

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Contact reporter James Day at jim.day@gazettetimes.com or 541-758-9542. Follow at Twitter.com/jameshday or gazettetimes.com/blogs/jim-day.

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