Questions, Anyone?

Q. A reader asks, “Can you explain why so many evergreens in people’s yards in Alpena are brown now that the snow is gone?”

A. Ben Nowakowski, conservation district forester, writes, “The browning of a lot of coniferous trees this winter is due to the drying effects of cold temperatures and high winds. Some species, such as white pine, are quite susceptible, especially when growing along roadways where they are exposed to road salt as they are not very tolerant of salt. Trees on hilltops or other areas exposed to high winds will have more visible browning of the foliage. Some varieties of ornamental shrubs were particularly hard hit and show a very definite line where they were or were not exposed above the snow.

“Whether or not these trees will recover will depend on how badly they were dried out. The portions of the shrub affected may green up as soon as spring growth begins. For those that do not green up, the dead growth can be removed and the lower green portion of the shrub can be trained to fill the empty space. Wait until June before removing any branches as the browned needles may recover.”

First survey of Alpena

Q. How was the first survey of Alpena conducted?

A. William Boulton, an early historian who wrote a history of Alpena County (published in 1876) described the survey. He reported that at the time of the first survey (1856), the Fremont for President election fever was very strong, and before the survey started, the Fremont supporters in the group tried to raise a Fremont flag over the newly-named village of Fremont (now Alpena). But, Boulton comments, “being affected by the water they had imbibed,” they had trouble getting the flagpole (a cedar pole they had cut) to stand up. They finally succeeded, and that was the success referred to in the following quote from Boulton.

“After the party had rested a little, they proceeded to survey the village of Fremont, but so jubilant were they with their political success, that instead of commencing at the section corner, they started from the first place that suited them and laid out the street now known as River street. When they had surveyed the street a short distance, they found it would interfere with the mill privileges on the south side of the river, so they made a short turn, near the present site of Golling’s brick block, and then proceeded with the survey. This was the commencement of the first survey of Alpena, and the greater part of what they surveyed was covered with green woods.”

Please send questions and comments to or to “Questions, Anyone?” The Alpena News, 130 Park Place, Alpena, MI 49707