Posted Online: Jan. 04, 2013, 10:16 pm

Trees in downtown Rock Island get a little grooming this winter

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By Anthony Watt,

More photos from this shoot
Photo: Todd Mizener
Justin Hinden, of Turkle's Tree Service, sweeps up the tree branches cut down by Zach Turkle as they work along 3rd Avenue in downtown Rock Island, on Thursday. Mr. Turkle's company has been contracted to trim 417 trees in the city's downtown area.
More photos from this shoot
Photo: Todd Mizener
Zach Turkle, of Turkle's Tree Service, cuts a branch off a tree across from the Rock Island County Building in downtown Rock Island on Thursday. Mr. Turkle's company has been contracted to trim 417 trees in the city's downtown area.
More than 400 trees in downtown Rock Island are being trimmed as part of the city's regular tree-grooming program.

Rock Island Public Works Director Bob Hawes said the city has all trees on city property trimmed, and this winter Turkle's Tree Service is trimming the downtown trees for $21,000.

He said they cut out branches that are dead and branches that are too low. Inthe downtown area, they also trim branches that are getting too close to buildings Mr. Hawes said.

The city's Parks and Recreation Department also works on trees, and this winter is focused on the city golf courses, Parks and Recreation director Bill Nelson said.

"We generally are trying to open up what we call the lower tree canopy for airflow," which helps keepmoisture down on the courses' grass in warmer months, he said, adding that warm, wet conditions can encourage disease in golf course grass.

There are many reasons tree work is done in the winter, Mr. Nelson and John Vance, lead forestry technician for Davenport, said.

The big reason is an oak disease that can shut down an oak tree's circulatory system and kill the tree. It spreads more easily in warm months when sap is distributed evenly and insects that can travel from tree to tree are more prevalent, the men said.

Another reason is the ground is harder, allowing crews to get heavier equipment they might need into the areas where they are working.

Davenport crews are working in the Duck Creek corridor to remove dead trees, something they haven't been able to do for awhile because the ground has been too soft, Mr. Vance said.

The cold weather also means less, or no, foliage to work around, Mr. Nelson said."This is also kind of the time that you look to see if there are branches broken that you couldn't see in summer."

The parks department also tries to keep its trees from obstructing right of ways, Mr. Nelson said, adding there arehundreds of trees on park property.