Editorial: State park had no choice on tree removal

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By The Kentucky Standard Editorial Board

The emerald ash borer is an invasive species from northeast Asia, brought to North America accidentally in the 1990s and first detected in 2002.

Since that time, the green beetle has laid waste to the continent’s stock of ash trees, with a preference toward green ash and black ash, but the insect will also attack white ash and blue ash trees as well. Female ash borers will lay their eggs in crevices in the bark, and the larvae hatch a few weeks later and set about to feed on the bark and tissue of the tree, interrupting the tree’s natural flow of water and nutrients, eventually killing it.

Evidence of the ash borer’s destruction has become a common sight in the woods, where dead, fallen trees cover the ground. It’s a depressing sight, to be sure. For much of the past 15 years, to fight the spread of the insect, state parks and campgrounds have restricted visitors from bringing in outside firewood.

Last week, My Old Kentucky Home State Park took the dramatic step of taking down about 200 of the diseased ash trees and burning them, leaving an unsightly series of stumps all over the park and golf course.

“They butchered that place,” local resident John Metcalf said in The Standard.

State park officials weren’t left with much of a choice, however, as the dying, hollowed-out trees present a safety hazard for park visitors and employees. Officials say they will be replacing the trees eventually, and this board is hopeful they set about to doing so quickly to repair the blighted areas where the ashes stood. Trees don’t mature overnight, and it will take some time to restore what was lost.