CHEEKTOWAGA, N.Y. (WIVB) – Crews are hard at work in Cheektowaga Town Park removing nearly 200 ash trees which have been hit by the Emerald Ash Borer, an invasive beetle.
More than 30 ash trees have been removed from the park so far. In all, 172 trees have been marked to be taken down, the Superintendent of Parks told News 4.
People who use the park say it’s a sad sight to see. “We’re very disappointed because we’ve been walking the park for about ten years and that’s all shaded area,” said Cheektowaga resident Karen Paradowski, who was walking in the park with her friend, Judy Corigliana, Wednesday morning.
It may be hard to watch the trees go, but park officials say the longer they stay up, the bigger the liability they are. The trees that are getting chopped down in the park are at least 60 percent dead thanks to the Emerald Ash Borer.
The Emerald Ash Borer is a small invasive beetle that was first found in New York State in Cattaraugus County in 2009, and the pests have continued to spread despite the DEC’s efforts to set up traps and educate the public about ways to contain the invasion, urging everyone not to move firewood, among other things.
Now, the tell-tale damage from the little beetles is easy to see on the Ash trees that have been cut down already in Cheektowaga Town Park. Little squiggle lines under the bark are caused by the invasive pest burrowing around and essentially cutting off the tree’s circulation, eventually causing the tree to die.
Parks officials tell News 4 all of the trees that are being removed from this park will be replaced this year. “That’s great,” said Rick Grampp, a Williamsville resident who bikes through Cheektowaga Town Park a few times a week during the summer. “Green space and trees and the environment make Cheektowaga that much more pretty.”
Still, for some park users, like Paradowski and Corigliana, it’s hard to watch their favorite trees fall, knowing it will be a long time until they see trees this size again. “It takes forever for them to get that big and to be shade,” Paradowski pointed out, even while applauding the promise to replant the trees.
There are around 1.3 billion ash trees in New York State alone that are at risk for an ash borer invasion, according to the state Department of Environmental Conservation.