The Chester Parks Advisory Committee has approved a plan to deal with the impending ash borer beetle infestions in its parks.
The NJ Emerald Ash Borer Task Force predict a 99 percent mortality rate for untreated ash trees with peak die-off occurring nine to ten years after the initial infestation. The Emerald Ash Borer has been found in Morris County and in Chester Township in 2017.
Chester Township is directly responsible for managing more than 960 acres of park land in eight parks/facilities.
Ash trees make up approximately 24 percent of the total of trees in New
Jersey with heavier concentrations in Northern N.J. The response plan is based on a professional inventory of ash trees in five park parcel prepared by the
professional forestry firm of Gracie and Harrigan in April 2017.
The plan was adopted by the Parks Advisory Committee on Aug. 13. It is administered by Bill Foelsch, parks consultant, Craig Reiner, superintendent of public
works and Aaron Drake, parks maintenance coordinator.
Chester Twp. will prioritize inventoried ash trees for removal using two criteria: Level of risk to people, structures and utilities; and proximity to known EAB infestations.
Waiting to act until trees begin dying is problematic for several reasons. Ash trees quickly deteriorate when they die and can quickly become a safety hazard. Dead ash trees are difficult and hazardous to remove because the wood becomes dry and brittle and can break apart in unexpected ways. Once large numbers of trees begin dying in the state, there will be an increased demand for a limited number of tree removal contractors, potentially resulting in delays to remove hazardous trees. Waiting until die-off events occur would also result in financial strain, as large numbers of ash trees would need to be removed, according to the Advisory Committee.
All ash trees in NJ should be considered at high risk for EAB: Even if Emerald Ash Borer has not yet been detected, all ash trees are considered to be at high risk of EAB infestation within the next few years.
Homeowners should contact the Rutgers Cooperative Extension office at https://njaes.rutgers.edu/county to inquire about treatments to prevent Emerald Ash Borer infestation on their properties.