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Published: Friday, 3/19/2004

350 trees are targeted at Crossroads for ax

BY RACHEL ZINN
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Ohio officials estimate they will need to chop down about 350 trees in Rossford and Perrysburg Township next month to halt the spread of an emerald ash borer infestation.

In October, the Ohio Department of Agriculture found the destructive beetle infesting 17 trees on both sides of U.S. 20 near the Crossroads Centre shopping plaza in Rossford. Officials plan to fell all ash trees within a half-mile radius of the plaza to stop the bug from ravaging a wider area.

Experts believe the bugs can fly up to half a mile from one tree to the next, although they have been shown in laboratory tests to fly about six miles.

Plant pest experts from the state agriculture department will meet with local residents and business owners Wednesday to explain which trees will be cut down. The meeting will be from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. in the Perrysburg Township Hall, 26609 Lime City Rd.

"We want to provide a forum for citizens to ask questions and get information about the emerald ash borer,'' said Melanie Wilt, an agriculture department spokesman.

The ash borer, which is native to Asia, kills every ash tree it overruns. Officials believe it arrived in the United States on shipments of Asian wood to Michigan, where thousands of trees in a 13-county area have died because of the beetle or efforts to stop its spread. Ohio outlawed the import of ash wood from Michigan last year.

But in 2001, before the problem was widely understood, the Crossroads Centre plaza landscaped using ash trees from an infested Michigan nursery.

"Probably most of the trees in the area are saplings,'' Ms. Wilt said. "It's not a real heavy ash area, so we we're lucky.''

Officials have cut down thousands of trees in other parts of the state to stop the spread of ash borers.

Last year, about 3,800 trees were destroyed in the Whitehouse area. Other sites include parts of Defiance and Paulding counties and the Columbus metropolitan area.

Chopping down ash trees around Crossroads Centre will cost an estimated $82,000, Ms. Wilt said. The project will be funded by a federal grant.

Crews plan to finish the work in Rossford and Perrysburg Township by May 1. Adult beetles emerge from infested trees and fly to new ash trees in mid-May.

Contact Rachel Zinn at:

rzinn@theblade.com

or 419-410-5055.



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