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By Anna Erickson, Published August 24 2013

Park Rapids is asking residents to water trees

PARK RAPIDS, Minn. – The city of Park Rapids is asking for a citizens’ hose brigade to begin immediately.

Tinder dry conditions are leaving city trees drying and prematurely going into dormancy, city forester Steph Paulson said.

“We just don’t have time to water them all,” she said.

Especially berm trees. The city cares for them for the first couple of years, but residents assume the responsibility after that.

City crews have been busy watering as many trees as they can get to, but they only have so much manpower. Trees along Highway 71, Pleasant Avenue and Highway 34 were watered this week.

With sandy conditions and no measurable rain in the forecast, Paulson said city trees need all the moisture they can get.

It’s nearly impossible to overwater a tree in these conditions.

And Paulson said it’s also impossible to tell if a tree is actually dying right now or going into dormancy, so the safe approach is to water.

Fires are also a concern.

Akeley, Nevis and Department of Natural Resources firefighters were called to the scene of a debris fire Thursday afternoon at a trailer park outside Nevis after flames got away from the landowner.

Firefighters at the scene said they believed a burn permit was issued in connection with the fire, but that tinder dry conditions made the situation dangerous.

The Minnesota DNR simultaneously issued a warning about the fire danger, indicating that Park Rapids is one of the areas most prone to fire. Other areas include Bemidji, Backus, Little Falls, Sandstone and lands north of Cambridge and south of Cloquet, the DNR said.

“Continuing warm dry weather could expand the area of concern to the Arrowhead region in northeastern Minnesota where lightning ignitions could become more likely if thunderstorms develop with light rain,” fire managers said.