Ball_mosssubmitted by Leslie Christensen [Email address: lesliemaria #AT# sbcglobal.net - replace #AT# with @ ]

The Shoal Creek Greenbelt in the Allandale neighborhood
needs our help. Please come to the
September 27th meeting of the neighborhood association and let us know if you
think this is a priority the association should spend money on. Also come if
you would like to help with volunteer work necessary to get things done
there. It’s our greenbelt and we are the
only ones who can do something with it. How about it? Will you?

Most residents of the Allandale neighborhood who have driven
down Shoal Creek between Koenig and 45th Street are aware of how heavily
infested with ball moss the trees in the greenbelt in that area have
become. It became especially clear how
bad things were this past winter when the leaves were off the trees.

This spring a committee was formed to try and
address the problem. We worked in
partnership with the Parks and Recreation Department staff. While the greenbelt is under the umbrella of
the department, there is essentially no budget available for tree work in
greenbelts. Its top responsibility is to
keep tree limbs and foliage from streets and pedestrian pathways that cause
safety hazards. That takes up over 90 %
of the tree budget. The Parks Department
was willing to give us one day of work on deadheading trees (cutting out the
dead wood where much of the ball moss is) in return for a promise that the
community would do its share of solving the problem. That day happened on August 4th when Jay
Culver, Urban

Forester for the department, brought his whole crew of seven
arborists and Max Moore (director in charge of general cleanup in the
greenbelt) sent two of his men as well. They accomplished a great amount of work for one day clearing 50
trees. The total number of trees that
needed deadheading was approximately 190.

After trying
unsuccessfully to get funding from Keep Austin Beautiful and the Austin Parks
Foundation, the committee presented preliminary findings to the Board of the
Allandale Neighborhood Association with the hope that the Association would
fund all or part of the ball moss cleanup. The board wants public input from residents at the

Allandale Association General Meeting on September 27th to
see if people feel this is how they would like to spend Association money. It was also requested that someone give an
overview of all problems associated with our greenbelt. Following is a list of what has been
accomplished toward that aim to date:

1. I have a friend who told me he eliminated the ball moss
on his five acres of trees using 2 tablespoons of potassium bicarbonate to a
gallon of water and adding a drop of a surfectant to get it to stick. The problem is the city couldn’t spray this
because it is not approved for use on ball moss by the Environmental Protection
Agency. I have gotten an agreement from
Todd Watson (ball moss expert and researcher at! A&M) that he will do a study to test this
approach if we come up with the funding. The president of Bioworks (a company that produces Milstop which is
basically the above mentioned formula) will donate the Milstop for the study
and will also hire the consultant to go to the EPA with the study to get them
to add Ball Moss to the list of already approved uses. He thinks this could be done within six
months of having the study results. Todd
has a sample of the Milstop and will do a small preliminary test this fall,
which will tell us if the test is viable. If it works, then the actual study will cost somewhere between $500 and
$5000 dollars.  If all goes well and the EPA approves this, it
will allow for a very cost effective way to treat ball moss in public lands in
the future. Warren Straus, Director of
Parks and Recreation told me that if this happens and the watershed protection
folks agree that it is safe to spray, he will add it to his budget in the
future for all city parks.

If the study is a go, then we will have to come up with the
money. In this case, since it will help
all the neighborhood parks, we can ask the other neighborhood associations to
help us fund the project.

2. Syd Mourning of Good Morning Tree Company has given us a
bid to do the rest of the deadheading in the park. He also included getting all the trees along
the street perfectly clear of ball moss, and maybe most of the rest of the
trees as well. He will do this in four
days for a total cost of $4400. This is
a fabulous price.

3. An arborist from TreeFolks, a non-profit organization
that helps to grow the urban forest, will walk the greenbelt with me on August
16th to give us his assessment of what other problems the trees may be
having. For example, we are already
aware that some of the root flares on some trees are covered with dirt, thus
creating a serious challenge to their survival. Information will be shared at the September 27th meeting.

4. Mike Lyday (ecologist and specialist in waterways
protection) with the Watershed Protection Department will come and walk the
greenbelt on August 14th to give us ideas of how we could help protect the
greenbelt from further erosion and flood damage. This would come in the form of certain plants
and grasses. Information will be
available at the September 27th meeting.

Again, please come to the meeting and support the committee
on getting our greenbelt looking and feeling more beautiful. It is up to those who come to let the board
know if this is something worth doing. Without our efforts, things will just continue to deteriorate.