February 23, 2019

Ash trees removed from park

Photos by Joe McIntyre/staff photographer

Charles Sudbrink, Cortland County’s highway superintendent, expressed regret Tuesday for having to take down the ash trees at Dwyer Park in Preble, but “once they die it becomes a public safety issue,” he said.

The loud hum of heavy equipment and chainsaws buzzed Tuesday afternoon through Dwyer Park in Preble.

A pile of cut branches, lay in part of park. Next to that lay about a half dozen logs.

Workers were removing the ash trees, as well as a few select others affected by disease.

“The highway committee in January agreed on removing the ash trees,” said Charles Sudbrink, Cortland County highway superintendent.

Removing the trees helps head off the emerald ash borer from destroying the trees. Monday was the first day of tree removal, Sudbrink said.

“We are not clear cutting,” Sudbrink said.

Almost a year ago, it was reported that the emerald ash borer surrounded Cortland County — to the north, south, east and west. The insect, no bigger than a penny, is capable of wiping out acres of trees.

The insect was first discovered in the U.S. in 2002 in southeastern Michigan, according to the state Department of Environmental Conservation. Once infested by the bug, most trees die within two to four years. The Emerald ash borer is responsible for the destruction of hundreds of millions of ash trees in the U.S. since its discovery in Michigan.

County Legislator Linda Jones (R-Homer), who has also led preservation efforts at Dwyer Park, said she has a problem with any tree being cut down. “But I’m OK with this,” she said; it needs to be done.

Jones said a notification was sent by the DEC in an attempt to stop the spread of the borer from going north.

The 15 to 20 trees being cut are healthy, making them worth money, Jones said.

Sudbrink hopes to cover the cost of the work by selling the trees for between $3,000 and $5,000. “No cost to taxpayers,” he said.

The project is one of two sites from which the county plans to remove trees. The Cortland County landfill, on the Solon border, is the other.

However, Sudbrink said that is too large a project for county workers alone so the county will submit a request for proposals. A forester still needs to determine which trees need to be removed, Sudbrink said.

Once the trees are removed, Sudbrink said, the county plans to replace them. The money raised from selling the healthy trees will cover both labor and the planting of new trees, Sudbrink said.

Jones said she would like to see other native species planted. She also would like to see trees 3 to 4 inches in diameter.

“Fifty years from now I don’t want people to see a naked park,” Jones said.

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