08 Apr Emerald Ash Borer Maintenance Update – April 2015
I wanted to provide an update I have received from the City’s Forestry Department with respect to the maintenance of the parks in our local communities that have been affected by the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB).
As I am sure you have noticed, we have unfortunately seen the devastating effect of the EAB and the subsequent removal of trees in Ernie Calcutt Park, Marble Park and Paul Landry Park. The trees in these parks and woodlots had declined to an extent where they needed to be removed before they posed any safety risk to the community.
In recent months tree removal was completed using mechanized equipment that you would typically see in traditional forestry operations such as a feller buncher, grinders and log skidder. This was done rather than using manual processes with staff operating machinery such as chainsaws and chippers. This method was chosen and applied to a number of sites across the City for the last two years, due to the volume of trees that had to be removed and to achieve the best long term site conditions to minimize the regeneration of invasive plants and maximize the growing space for new and existing trees.
One major consideration for staff when evaluating these methods is cost. It is easily two to three times as expensive per site to carry out this work manually and productivity is much higher in an area like this when the work is done by machine. If the City had not used equipment it would have taken easily 20 days of resources instead of three days and resulted in double or triple the cost. This is not to say that this work is not without a drastic change to the woods, but this work was not optional, the risk to users and adjacent residents is high, and in many cases the work will in fact improve the woods and park areas for the users by allowing this opportunity to open sight lines, bring in native species of trees, and remove the invasive plants that have been growing on the sites.
In addition to monetary and time savings, mechanized equipment is able to directionally fell, meaning the trees that are removed can be placed strategically which causes less damage. One of the issues with using mechanized equipment is that there is more debris created throughout the removal process, but even that has its benefits. City staff treat the site differently depending on if it is the interior of the woodlot or the active area of the park. In the interior the woody material is left to decompose as it returns important nutrients to the soil for the woods, in the active area the contractor will be returning to do a clean up now that the snow is disappearing and the ground is dried up, which has been a slow process this year.
The final steps in the woodlot management for EAB is that later this spring we will be treating the ash and buckthorn stumps within each of the parks to control unwanted growth and competition for new trees being planted later this Fall with a variety of native tree species to help the woods recover.
As more information becomes available to my office, I will keep the community up to date as the work is completed. I appreciate your understanding and patience as the reforestation of our local parks proceeds.
City Councillor, River Ward