City crew removing infested ash trees

WATERTOWN — To slow the spread of the emerald ash borer, a total of 20 trees in Thompson Park will be removed by city Public Works crews.

Ten ash trees in the city-owned park were taken down Monday, with the remainder of the 20 to be removed Tuesday.

The infested trees are located in various locations in the park, including areas adjacent to the playground, stone rest rooms, Zoo New York, the pool and Rotary fitness center.

Over the next several years, 90 trees with the disease will be removed in the park. The idea is to minimize future risks of other ash trees. They will be replaced by newly planted trees.

“We don’t want to remove all of them at once,” said city planner and arborist Michael J. DeMarco, who’s overseeing the city’s emerald ash borer program.

The city hopes to save 17 ash trees in Thompson Park — and a total of 56 in the city — through chemical treatment over a two-year period.

Two years ago, the emerald ash borer, an invasive beetle that targets and kills ash trees, was discovered in the city.

The city has put together a plan to battle the beetles.

Unless proactively removed or chemically treated, all city-owned ash trees will become infested and succumb to damage.

The city has determined that 375 ash trees have been infested by the emerald ash borer and must be removed over the next five to 10 years. Last year, 50 were removed and another 50 will be taken down this year.

According to the city’s strategy, once trees are heavily infested, usually between four and seven years after initially infested, their wood becomes brittle and unstable, causing an increased risk to the public.

After infested trees are removed, the population of the beetle should diminish, Mr. DeMarco said.

City property owners with ash trees that have been infested can contact Mr. DeMarco to devise a strategy for those trees. Contact Mr. DeMarco at (315) 785-7884.

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Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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