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Published: Wednesday, 4/6/2005

Tiny, but destructive ash borer to cost Pearson a third of its trees

BY TOM HENRY
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Pink rings painted on doomed ash trees flank John Jaeger, natural resources manager at Pearson Metropark. Ash trees are threatened by the emerald ash borer. Pink rings painted on doomed ash trees flank John Jaeger, natural resources manager at Pearson Metropark. Ash trees are threatened by the emerald ash borer.
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Nearly one of every three trees in Pearson Metropark is expected to be cut down this year because of emerald ash borer discoveries, a massive thinning that will make shade a lot harder to come by this summer at one of the region's most popular recreation sites.

The logging operation will force Pearson to close at various intervals. While the dates have not been determined, park officials say closings are inevitable because of safety risks.

There's no guarantee Pearson will be open for picnics during the Memorial Day or Fourth of July holiday weekends, John Jaeger, Toledo Area Metroparks natural resources director, said yesterday.

"It's a tragedy," Mr. Jaeger said as he stood between two of some 2,000 ash trees marked for removal. The 2,000 represent about 30 percent of the park's woodlot.

Fluorescent pink rings were painted on the doomed trees, including some that are 80 to 100 years old and up to 80 feet tall. The trees were identified by the Ohio Department of Agriculture.

"It's pretty striking," said Scott Carpenter, Metroparks spokesman.

Mr. Jaeger said two parts of Pearson were confirmed infestations of the deadly beetle, an Asian native that was accidentally imported in a Detroit-bound shipping crate.

The protocol used by the state agriculture department and the U.S. Department of Agriculture is to remove all ash trees within a half-mile of infested sites in hope of cutting off the pest from its only known food source.

"It's sad, but it has to be done," said Azeze Abdoney, 62, who lives across from Pearson and has an ash marked for removal from her backyard.

She said she will do her part by letting crews on her property to cut down her tree. "I don't want to see [the pest] spread all over," Ms. Abdoney said.

The state agriculture department said infested trees and those that stand immediately adjacent to them will be the first to go. It is trying to get those down before the beetle emerges from the tree bark in mid May.

But there is so much work throughout Ohio that all cutting can't be done before then.

Many of the marked ash trees that lie within a half-mile of an infestation will come down later, said Melissa Brewer, state agriculture department spokesman.

State and local officials will meet Friday at Pearson Metropark to discuss the removal strategy.

The 2,000 trees at Pearson are only a tenth of the 20,000 slated for removal from the Oak Openings Preserve Metropark in western Lucas County. But the latter park is more than 10 times larger than the Pearson site. Plus, it has a more diversified forestry, Mr. Jaeger said.

The Oak Openings park is larger than all other metroparks combined. Crews will be removing somewhere between 10 and 20 percent of its woodlot, Mr. Jaeger said.

Thousands of other ash trees are coming down throughout Ohio, in addition to millions that have come down or are in the process of being cut in Michigan, Indiana, and Ontario.

Some 50,000 trees will be removed in the vicinity of North Baltimore, Ohio, and Van Buren, Ohio. Thousands more have come down or will be cut in the vicinity of Toledo Express Airport, the Maumee State Forest, the north side of Columbus, and in the vicinity of Hicksville and Pioneer, both in Ohio.

Contact Tom Henry at:

thenry@theblade.com

or 419-724-6079.



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