Letter to the Editor: Fragile Habitat in Mount Vernon area

Letter to the Editor: Fragile Habitat in Mount Vernon area

The National Park service has contracted with seven tree-cutting companies to remove trees along the Parkway from above Spout Run to Mount Vernon through March of 2017. This calls for removal of trees deemed a danger. It is the responsibility of a certified arborist to determine which trees are to be cut down. Recently over 90 trees were removed near the boardwalk north of Tulane Drive. Many of the trees were far from the boardwalk and posed no threat to people or property.

Included among the trees cut down were three Pumpkin Ash that had been selected by a certified arborist from Bartlett’s Tree service along with a park service biologist. These were injected with insecticide to protect them from Emerald Ash Borer using funds provided by the Friends of Dyke Marsh. The trees were evaluated in the spring and were deemed healthy. Regrettably, the arborist responsible for overseeing this cutting was ill at the time of the tree sawing, and the selection of trees was made by an unauthorized individual removing many that exceeded 70 years of age.

In areas of the midwest and northeast, where up to 19 percent of the urban forest is composed by Ash trees, a decision has been made after a cost-effective analysis, that the considerable price of cutting ash and replanting them with new trees justifies consideration of treatment as an alternative. The decision to treat is made by evaluating the canopy in the spring and trees with less than 40 percent canopy damage are considered candidates for ash borer treatment while other, more distressed trees, are removed. The National Park Service's designated arborist has been removing all Ash trees close to “targets,” including those with no obvious defects and has made the decision in the fall after leaf drop rather than when leafing has occurred in spring. Their justification is likely that Emerald Ash borer, sooner or later, will affect all Ash trees and that removing them is justified. But is this truly a proper rationale for cutting? Overreach jeopardizes a fragile habitat that we all enjoy.

Edward Eder