The Emerald Ash Borer in Greene County Parks

Apr 22, 2014

The Emerald Ash Borer is dramatically changing the landscape of area parks
Credit Michigan State University David Cappaert / US Department of Agriculture

It’s smaller than your thumbnail, but the destruction it can cause is huge. The shiny green Emerald Ash Borer is a beetle native to Asia and Russia. It has been traveling from state to state, catching rides on firewood, and then settling in to eat away at the Ash Tree.

The Greene County Parks and Trails department is currently cutting down 3,000 dead Ash Trees which have been killed by this insect. That’s going to dramatically change this part of Ohio. And no one knows this better than two naturalists who work there.

"Basically for the past four years I’ve been doing a survey of the parks looking at the ash trees and particularly if they’re going to hit a structure, or a roadway, or be a hazard. One person would drive while I would look out the window. And spending hours doing that, it just ingrained the image of the tops of trees in my head to the point where as soon as I closed my eyes to go to sleep, all I could see was a slow motion image of trees," says Mel Grovenor, naturalist with Greene County Parks & Trails.

"A lot of the trees were very heavily laden with seeds this past fall, as in, they knew something was going to happen and it was their last ditch effort to try to carry on. And some of them even branches were breaking because of the weight of the seeds." "Right now, all we’re doing is taking down the trees that are dead. Because once an Ash tree shows that it has been infected, you have less than a year before the tree actually starts to drop. It is a very quick death in the tree," says Chris Barnett, chief naturalist for Greene County Parks & Trails.