Committee Votes to Harvest Threatened Ash

The Door County Airport & Parks Committee members voted at the regular monthly meeting on Aug. 6 to harvest ash trees at the 155-acre Bluff Headland Park in Ellison Bay due to the appearance of the Emerald Ash Borer in Door County.

The county first broached the subject of harvesting ash trees in the county park at a March public meeting in Liberty Grove, but at the time the ash-destroying insect had not been identified in Door County. That changed on June 10 when the insect was found in Fish Creek, and it has since been found in Sturgeon Bay.

“The committee did decide to move ahead with some forest management, trying to break it up into three different stages to reduce the number of ash trees before they start dying,” said Airport & Parks Director Erik Aleson, who added that there is no timeline for the harvest.

“We’ll be working with the DNR foresters,” he said.

About 43 percent of Bluff Headland Park’s trees are ash, Aleson said, making it the largest collection of ash in county parks, which is why the county has been focusing on it.

“Instead of doing it all at once, we’ll do a third of trees in the park, a small-scale timber harvest focusing on the ash trees,” Aleson said. “It might be two or three years before going in a second time, and we’ll wait for the third stage when the trees are dying. We’re trying to make a minimal impact. It’s certainly a controversial topic. Nobody likes to see trees die.”

On the same day as that meeting, the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection announced that the Emerald Ash Borer has been confirmed in Adams County, triggering a quarantine in that county and in neighboring Juneau County. Buffalo County will also be quarantined, because an EAB infestation has been found at Merrick State Park. This brings the total number of Wisconsin counties under quarantine to 32.

Quarantines prohibit ash wood products and hardwood firewood from being moved to areas that are not quarantined. For businesses handling wood products that could carry EAB, this means that they must work with DATCP to assure that their products are pest-free before shipping to non-quarantine counties. For private citizens, a quarantine means that neither residents nor tourists may take firewood from these counties to non-quarantine counties.

EAB adults lay eggs on the bark of ash trees in mid- to late summer. When the eggs hatch a week or two later, the larvae burrow under the bark for the winter and feed, forming the characteristic S-shaped tunnels and destroying the tree’s ability to take up nutrients and water. In summer, the adults emerge through D-shaped holes in the bark.