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Published: Thursday, 1/6/2005

Ash borer assault ready

BY TOM HENRY
BLADE STAFF WRITER
The emerald ash borer, shown in its larval form, emerges from the host tree in mid-May. The emerald ash borer, shown in its larval form, emerges from the host tree in mid-May.
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Chain saw-toting crews are forging ahead with orders to cut down thousands of ash trees in the thick of winter as part of an ongoing counter-assault against the deadly emerald ash borer.

At the Oak Openings Preserve Metropark's lodge on Wilkins Road, plans to cut down 20,000 to 30,000 trees from that park alone are to be discussed with the public at open houses from noon to 3 p.m. and 5 to 8 p.m. today, barring a last-minute change because of the weather.

"We intend to start cutting trees with our staff next week," said John Jaeger, Toledo Area Metroparks natural resources director.

The Ohio Department of Agriculture today plans to announce a Jan. 18 open house for Northwood and Walbridge property owners to discuss cutting that will result in those parts of northern Wood County due to a recent discovery of the pest. That open house is to be from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Loop Park Shelter House, 300 Guy St., Walbridge.

On Tuesday, in Hillsdale County's Amboy Township, Michigan officials will host a meeting to discuss plans to cut in that area as a result of a separate discovery that also was found recently. That event, originally planned for last night, will begin at 6:30 p.m. It will be held at the township hall at 14840 Grass Lake Rd. A similar meeting occurred Tuesday night among county and township officials. Hillsdale recently became one of seven Michigan counties added to that state's extensive list of counties under quarantine because of the pest.

A tree-cutting operation in North Baltimore, Ohio, in which about 20,000 trees were sacrificed, is nearly complete. Cutting recently began in Oregon. Additional cuts are planned for Toledo and surrounding areas, said Lucy Hunt, an Ohio emerald ash borer survey coordinator.

Ohio crews also are being directed now to Williams County, where a massive cut is planned in and around the vicinity of Pioneer near the Michigan, Ohio, and Indiana state lines, she said.

Much of the pace is dependent upon U.S. Department of Agriculture funding, not the weather. Officials are eager to get all cutting done at least a month before the thumbnail-sized, metallic green beetle makes its annual emergence in mid May, Ms. Hunt said.

The beetle, which hails from Asia, feeds exclusively on ash trees. Ten billion ash trees east of the Rocky Mountains are at risk, including 3.8 billion in Ohio.

The infestation in the Oak Openings metropark could result in one of the region's largest cuts. The metroparks board recently authorized removal of up to 30,000 trees. Mr. Jaeger said at least 20,000 of them are either infested or are within a half-mile of an infested area. State and federal protocol calls for all within a half-mile to be removed as a precaution.

There are at least three pockets of infestation in the 3,700-acre metropark, with many affected ash trees along a Swan Creek floodplain in the vicinity of Monclova and Reed roads, Mr. Jaeger said.

He said metroparks officials hope to salvage at least some of the lumber.

Contact Tom Henry at:

thenry@theblade.com

or 419-724-6079.



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