An invasive species is attacking ash trees across the state, causing them to die quickly, becoming hazardous to the public.
A tree inventory shows that the ‘Emerald Ash Borer’ is almost 100% fatal to ash trees. This beetle, native to Asia, made its way to the Great Lakes Region in 2013.
The invasive species is attacking ash trees behind the inner bark.
Recycling Coordinator for Millcreek Township, Jessica Stutzman, says, “It basically girdles this tree, and kills this tree. With that, it makes the canopy of the tree very unstable and it does mean that limbs can come down.”
All this causing the trees to die within 3-5 years then posing a danger to the public.
“Any trees that are near our playgrounds, restrooms, ball fields, trails, sidewalks, cars… we want to make sure that these limbs are not going to come down,” Stutzman explains.
Millcreek Township conducting a tree inventory of its 13 parks over the summer.
The DCNR, in partnership with the PA Outdoor Corps, surveyed the maintained areas of these parks, about 1200 trees, finding that more than 20% of all the trees surveyed are ash trees. And, most of them are dying because of the Emerald Ash Borer.
Tim Ackerman of the DCNR Bureau of Forestry says, “ash degrades pretty rapidly, as well as they’re declining. So, the canopy and the branches can fall apart pretty quickly and the stem can actually become very brittle.”
The township now moving forward and creating a management plan.
Director of Parks and Recreation, Ashley Marsteller, tells us they “identify how hazardous they are, what kind of state they’re in, what really needs to go, and what is still healthy enough to stay for a little bit….”
Over the next couple of years, the trees will be systematically removed. Now, although many trees will be removed, there will be new and more diverse trees planted in their place.