WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWTI) — The City of Watertown will begin additional steps to mitigate the spread of the invasive Emerald Ash Borer.
On September 24, Watertown’s Department of Public Works staff began the first phase of ash tree removal in Thompson Park. This is to slow the spread of the EAB throughout the park and minimize future risks associated with infested ash trees.
The Emerald Ash Borer, sometimes a silent killer, is an invasive beetle that burrows into the bark of all ash trees to lay its eggs, where the larvae will feed on the inner bark, which disrupts the tree ability to transport water; ultimately drying out the tree. After the beetle makes an ash tree its home, it can kill within two to five years.
Emerald Ash Borer was first identified in the City of Watertown in 2018. Since then, the City has developed plans to attempt and mitigate the problem. However, as detailed in the City’s EAB and ash tree management strategy, once ash trees are heavily infested, their wood becomes brittle and unstable, which causes increased risks to the public.
At this time it is considered a city-wide infestation. Higher infestations have been found in the City’s east and west sides south of the Black River, on the Jefferson Community College campus and at Thompson Park.
The DPW’s ash tree removal at Thompson Park will take down 20 trees at various locations. This will include areas adjacent to the playground, stone bathrooms, pool, Zoo and Rotary fitness trails. If adequate room for tree planting is available, the City will replace all ash trees removed as part of these efforts.
The City is also utilizing chemical mitigation strategies that are injected into ash trees by professional arborists. In 2020, 56 ash trees were treated and the same trees are expected to be treated in 2022. This treatment is funded by the Department of Environmental Conservation, Northern New York Community Foundation and Watertown Noon Rotary Club.
Watch a previous interview with City of Watertown Planner Michael DeMarco on the city-wide infestation in the player below: