MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. (WCCO) – A sprawling stump from what had been a giant elm tree now blocks half of the access to a south Minneapolis street.

Its ring pattern indicates the tree is more than a century old, but it was yanked from the ground much like a garden weed.

The sprawling stump sits as a sad reminder of the vicious wind storm that raced across the Twin Cities metropolitan area the weekend of June 22.

Five weeks after the June storm, the cleanup continues. Minneapolis Park and Recreation crews have been working ten-hour days every weekend since to remove the debris.

A Park Board map indicates the area of greatest devastation stretches from Lake of the Isles southeast to Minnehaha Park, where it’s estimated that at least 3,000 boulevard and public trees were toppled in the storm.

One contributing factor to the tree loss could be any recent sidewalk or street repair.

Ralph Sievert, Minneapolis Park Board’s director of forestry, says this is only a hypothesis at this point.

“We don’t know really if that is the cause. We just really want to find out if it is,” Sievert said.

He says a joint study with the University of Minnesota Forestry Department will consider the factors which contributed to the loss of so many stately trees.

Altered roots and disturbed soil will be among the factors studied.

“Is there any correlation to sidewalk repair or curb repair and the stability of the tree?” Sievert said. “Every time you have a storm, people naturally will start to draw that conclusion, but you don’t know for sure if there really is a correlation between the two.”

Already, more than 2,000 truckloads of trees and limb debris have been hauled off to a dump site near Fort Snelling.

There, the once majestic shade trees are being turned into a mountainous pile of shredded mulch.

Bill Hudson