I had the good fortune of working in a City in Tennessee that had it’s own 4,000+ acrea nature preserve nestled in the foothills of the Appalachian chain. Our Public Works crews played a small role in helping to keep the preserve in good working order whenever Mother Nature chose to be uncooperative and wash out trails or knock down large trees.
One of the lessons the Park Director taught me was that Mother Nature was pretty good at taking care of itself — even when it looked like it needed our help, things were often the way they needed to be without our intervention. I remember wandering through a part of the park that I had not been in before and I felt like I had discovered the place where all trees go to die. Stand after stand of pine trees laid like whale skeletons in this one particular hollow that left you feeling like you were in a graveyard. Kind of freaky in a post-Apocalyptic sort of way.
When I mentioned this morbid scene to the Director he talked about the arrival of the pine bark beetle and the damage it had wrought. But rather than being up in arms leading the charge to go kill the beatles he talked in bigger terms about the reforestation that was taking place in the park and how exciting it was to watch the next generation of hard woods replace the soft wooded pines, bringing with it new fauna and new wildlife that thrives in the opens spaces around hardwoods.
I was reminded of those conversations about the pine bark beetle when the Emerald Ash Borer began leaving it’s own trail of tears and destruction. I’m not saying that I’m rooting for the Borer but I at least have a better appreciation for how the ecology of forests works.
The City is using this opportunity to develop a strategy to do a little of our own reforestoration, replanting behind the losses of Ash trees in Kent. It turns out that in the 1980’s — before the Emerald Ash Borer become public enemy number one — Ash trees were recommended for a lot of urban uses, along streets and in new developments. Being a City that places a high value on trees we have to start planning for the replacement of those trees right now — which is exactly what we’re doing.
We’ve recently gone after some grant funding that has been targeted for this type of urban tree renewal and the staff has identified those areas in the City that are likely to be most affected due to the density of Ash trees. At the top of the list is the Forest Lakes Subdivision. Below is a notice that is being sent to the residents in Forest Lakes that announces an upcoming neighborhood meeting to develop a course of action.
DATE: January 3, 2011
TO: Affected Residents of the Forest Lakes Subdivision
FROM: City of Kent Department of Public Service
RE: Emerald Ash Borer Mitigation
The City of Kent has been closely monitoring the ongoing spread of the Emerald Ash Borer in Ohio. All 88 counties in Ohio are designated as quarantined areas and infestations of the Emerald Ash Borer have been identified in 50 counties, including in Portage and Summit Counties. In preparation for the inevitable arrival of the Emerald Ash Borer in the Kent community, the City developed and adopted an Emerald Ash Borer Management Plan in 2007 that identified the actions the City will utilize to minimize the adverse affects the Emerald Ash Borer will have on the City’s forested residential areas.
The Forest Lakes subdivision has the highest concentration of ash trees within the City, with a total of 154 ash trees located on tree lawns within the City’s right-of-way. An Emerald Ash Borer infestation occurring in a residential area with such a high concentration of ash trees will generate significant financial, safety and environmental challenges for the City and require the removal and replacement of a large number of dead and dying ash trees in an extremely short period of time. In an attempt to proactively mitigate the level of damage that will occur as a result of the Emerald Ash Borer’s impending arrival in the community, the City recently submitted a grant proposal to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) requesting funding that will allow for a more comprehensive implementation of the City’s Emerald Ash Borer Management Plan.
The Forest Lakes Homeowners Association (HOA) has invited City of Kent staff working on this project to attend the next HOA meeting to discuss the City’s Emerald Ash Borer Management Plan and the City’s recent grant proposal submission. The meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, January 26, 2011, 7:00 p.m. at the Roy H. Smith Shelterhouse located at Fred Fuller Park, Middlebury Road.
The City appreciates having the opportunity to attend the January 26th Forest Lakes HOA session and looks forward to meeting with residents to answer questions regarding this very important issue.