Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Saugatuck’s ash trees ‘to be no more’

An emerald ash borer. Image courtesy of emeraldashborer.info.


Saugatuck city — a Tree City USA — just can’t catch a break when it comes to the timber.

More than 50 ash trees on city property and along roads will have to be cutdown after staff members discovered the trees have been decimated by the emerald ash borer, according to Councilwoman Jane Verplank, a member of the city’s tree board. The group oversees the protection, removal and planting of trees in the public right-of-way and on public property.

“I planted them all, but now we’re going to lose them,” said Bruce Simonson, head of the  department of public works who has worked for the city for 47 years. “It’s pretty devastating to have this.”

The insect — Agrilus planipennis — is a native of eastern Russia, northern China, Japan and Korea and was found in Michigan in 2002, according to emeraldashborer.info, a website maintained by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service, Michigan State University, Purdue University and Ohio State University. The ash borer is about a half-inch long and is bright metallic green. It infests a tree from the top down and destroys the water and nutrient tissues under the bark, the website said. The larvae make serpentine tracks under the bark.

The trees will be replaced, Verplank said.

Ash trees haven’t been planted in the city for years, Simonson said. He has been planting a variety of trees throughout the years so the city won’t be deforested by the infestation.

“The ash are destined to be no more,” he said.

The city is still dealing with dying trees in a public park between the Kalamazoo River and Lake Michigan.

Earlier this year, residents began to notice stressed and dying trees on the Park Street side of Mount Baldhead. The spraying of an herbicide in an attempt to rid the sand dune of oriental bittersweet, a vine that strangles and covers trees up to 70 feet tall, led to the problems.

A mild winter, warm March, freezes in April and a summer drought have contributed to the problem.

Officials from the Land Conservancy of West Michigan are still investigating if the herbicide is seeping down the dune, possibly destroying more trees.


For more on the story, visit http://www.hollandsentinel.com/news/x764810900/Soil-testing-will-determine-extent-of-herbicide-damage-in-Saugatuck

And a large maple tree along Perryman Street is also destined to be removed. In its quest for sunlight over the years, the tree has grown at an angle over the eastbound lane of the road to Oval Beach. Now, though, its low enough that trucks can hit it.

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