Proper care of Modesto trees would end mistletoe destruction

October 29, 2013 

JBL Mistletoe 2

In this July 2012 photo, Ray Pifferini touches mistletoe growing in a tree on Ulrich Avenue near College Avenue in Modesto.

JOAN BARNETT LEE — The Modesto Bee Buy Photo

I am a retired city employee, formerly the trees foreman, head of tree maintenance. I was with the city for almost 40 years and my responsibility at retirement was supervising planting, cutting, removal, etc. of our city trees. The practices used during this time provided healthy, well-maintained trees.

The city labor force for tree maintenance is approximately the same. There would be less use of equipment if the city would follow the old maintenance program.

Mistletoe is a parasite and eventually kills the tree because it keeps multiplying and taking the nutrients a tree needs to grow and survive. When I managed the department, we had 17 employees who maintained the trees as well as a city nursery.

Yes, one man was killed using a chipper many years ago and the city maintains that is why it is not widely used. However, men have also been killed on the aerials and they are used.

My argument is simple: Have the mistletoe removed first, and then “thin” the trees and shape the younger trees.

I have presented my arguments to the City Council numerous times the last five years to no avail. Look down the streets of Modesto and see the many trees that are dying because of the mistletoe. Call the city parks department or your City Council member to express your concern. There is a way to do the job properly, with less expense, and keep our trees healthy.



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