Crow’s Nest: Goodbye old friends

May 12, 2015

By Daniel Barringer, Preserve Manager

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We have said goodbye to a few trees here this week, the natural outcome of age and the unnatural threat of an imported pest, emerald ash borer (EAB).

Emerald ash borer is now present in the counties around us, and it causes complete mortality of ash trees within the insect’s reach. By the time the insects’ exit holes become obvious, it has already been present a year and it takes only three years to decimate a population of trees—as we have found on other preserves.

We are treating a handful of ash trees that will remain a seed source for the species for the future. But most of the trees in our forests are on their own. If there is some degree of resistance in their genes they will exhibit it. Along roads and near buildings—we are beginning to pre-emptively take down those trees that could become hazards.

The tree in the photo above was probably the largest ash at Crow’s Nest Preserve. But it was also not in great shape; we thought about removing it twenty years ago when the barn was renovated and long before EAB was a threat. With the tree now more in decline and with the threat of an insect that was almost certain to kill it, we decided to take it down before it became a hazard. Two others along roads also were taken down today. We will take down more as we can over the next few years so that when EAB gets here we will be able to handle the work of removing the remaining dead trees near roads and buildings.

Tomorrow I will count the rings of this beauty, when I have my reading glasses and the sawdust has settled. No tree should be cut down without acknowledging the respect that it deserves for its years and majesty.

I’ve written before, and will again: the forest of the future is not going to look exactly like the forest of the past. There will be species absent, and others in their place. Gone are the mighty chestnuts, elms, and now likely ash. Other species fill in, endure, persist. Let’s hope the habitat they create is as rich as what was here before.