Cumberland Times-News

Local News

March 12, 2014

Damaged ash trees will be removed

Dozens in city park show symptoms of being attacked by invasive insects

CUMBERLAND — Cumberland’s elected officials on Tuesday evening listened to a state forester talk about diseased ash trees in the city and then gave the go ahead to start felling some of them.

On Thursday or Friday, trained sawyers from the Maryland Forest Service and the city’s Parks and Recreation Department will take down an ash tree in Constitution Park.

“There are 47 ash trees near public areas within the park and 39 of them show symptoms (of being attacked by emerald ash borers,” Forester Tyler Wakefield told the mayor and council at the bi-weekly public meeting.

Wakefield described a yearlong inventory of trees in Cumberland that revealed 27 streetside ash trees.

The city will not have to pay for the removal of the park trees.

“The price is right and we need to act sooner rather than later,” Mayor Brian Grim remarked.

Wakefield said eight ash trees in various city locations have been identified for injection with a pesticide, a treatment that is effective for up to three years, he said.

Trees with less than 30 percent deterioration from the beetles are candidates for injection.

As trees decay, they become dangerous in public areas where falling branches can injure bystanders, according to the forester.

The borers begin working on a tree at its top and eventually bore toward the ground. Wakefield said he saw substantial beetle damage on trees in the park at eye or even knee level.

Grant money is available from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources for treatment of ash trees on private land.

The borers spread from tree to tree rapidly, according to Paul Eriksson, the city’s natural resources specialist. “But that doesn’t mean that every ash tree will be damaged,” he said.

In other business, the city approved the first reading of a charter amendment resolution that would slightly alter the body’s public meeting dates. Currently, the mayor and council meet every two weeks. Should the resolution be approved two weeks from now, the meeting dates would become the first and third Tuesdays of each month.

City Administrator Jeff Rhodes announced that CSX Transportation will pay $125,000 to fund a traffic study at the Greene Street viaduct as well as bridges over the rails at Cumberland, Fayette and Washington streets. The survey will be done by HDR Engineering, Inc.

Contact Michael A. Sawyers at msawyers@times-news.com.

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