Boulevard Tree Banding: How The Wolseley Tree Bandits Get it Done!
I’ve been a Wolseley tree bandit for as long as I can recall. In 2006 I was promoted to ‘chief-bandit’ by the Palmerston gang, a position I held for 11 years. My posse was about 50 strong, and our territory stretched the length of Palmerston St. and beyond.
We bandits were wild back then, darn right audacious, if not a little naive. A rag-tag group of stick-‘em-up outlaws, who believed in crazy stuff like community, sweat equity, and positive thinking.
Our mission? – to protect our trees by banding every boulevard elm on Palmerston, including two-trees-in at every cross street, at Nellie McClung Park and the perimeter of Laura Secord School. Those sticky bands prevented hundreds of wingless moths from climbing up the trees in the Fall to lay their eggs in the crown. Eggs that would produce hoards of leaf-munching cankerworms come spring. For trees already under threat from Dutch elm disease, banding helps to prevent defoliation, which can weaken a tree, leaving it more vulnerable to disease.
As head bandit my role was to organize banding dates and collect money. Every August I distributed a newsletter to all homes on Palmerston requesting $20 per household or $5 per individual (or payment in sweat equity for those on a tight budget). On average we raised $600/ year, which we used to purchase the Tanglefoot, fiberglass bands, and materials.
Over time we compiled a stockpile of bands and Tanglefoot which was stored in the off season by one bandit or another. Some years we asked for $20/home and other years, depending on the stockpile, $10/ home. We frequently carried a cash balance forward to the next year.
Banding days were a celebration! A gang of about 20 to 30 bandits (and little bandits in training) met in my driveway where I had all supplies laid out and ready to go. We always started with a demonstration on how to apply the bands and I would give a little rah-rah spiel to fire up the crew. From there we would partner up; one person agreeing to do the sticky job of spreading tangle foot and the other the dry job of wrapping and stapling the band to the tree.
My role was to cruise Palmerston on my Wolseley Hog (a 50 cc Honda scooter) delivering materials and assisting where needed. After banding was completed, the crew, on their best bandit behaviour, met at The Neighbourhood Café (now Ruby West… just east of Ruby) for coffee and a bun. It was a most pleasurable time, connecting with neighbours, glowing in the warmth of accomplishment and community pride and feeling good after a hard day of “banditing.”
— Michael Bennet
For more information on banding elm trees see: https://winnipeg.ca/publicworks/insectcontrol/cankerworms/treebanding.stm