Poland Forest Board Chairman Robert Zedaker gave a gloomy forecast for the trees in the forest last week. He addressed Village Council with an update on the emerald ash borer, a devastating oriental insect that attacks only ash trees.
"We have roughly 15 to 25 percent of the trees in the woods that are ash," Zedaker said. "Of that, 15 to 20 percent of the ash trees we have are going bad."
He said the ash borer infests the tree and before long, the bark starts falling off and the tree quickly dies. The trees can end up falling and blocking trails and leave the forest floor looking poor.
"There are chemicals that can save the unaffected trees, but it costs $100 per tree and has to be applied every spring," Zedaker said. "We just don't know what to do with [this situation]."
The chemical treatment is a systemic insecticide called imidacloprid. Ohio State University Extension master gardener Bill Snyder said it is dumped around the base of an ash tree and it will offer protection against the emerald ash borer.
"There are other similar agents, but imidacloprid is probably the least expensive at this time," Snyder said.
He said the treatment does only last one year and it would have to be repeated every spring until the threat of the emerald ash borer is passed. That could be years from now.
When asked what options Poland Forest Board has, Snyder said they can ignore the problem and let all of the ash trees die, they can cut them all down and plant non-ash tree replacements, or they can selectively remove trees that could result in damage to structures when they fall.
"Poland seems to have been hit the hardest (so far), while damage is very apparent in Boardman," Snyder said. "I have also heard reports from Youngstown, Austintown and Canfield. Without a way to eradicate the emerald ash borer, we will lose all untreated ash trees in Mahoning County within the next few years."
Snyder said he was informed that Mill Creek Park has a reasonable plan in place at this time for their park system. They will treat some rare and important trees with systemic insecticide, they will cut trees that could result in damage to infrastructure and remove the rest as best they can."