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09 February, 2017

ASH BORER IS COSTING MY FAIRY LAKE 500 OF ITS DYING TREES

A peek through the trees at Fairy Lake from my back yard last Fall.
 Limb by limb, trunk by trunk, approximately 500 to 550 dead and dying Ash trees are being culled from around Fairy Lake in Southampton in a harvest called “tragic”. The cull began Feb. 6, and could take up to six weeks to complete.

The culprit: An infestation of the deadly Emerald Ash Borer that has been known to kill more than 50 million ash trees in North America.

My property backs onto Fairy Lake and I am devastated every time a new gap opens up in what was a wonderful tree scape between my backyard and the lake.

“We're removing all the White Ash trees that were marked as dead or dying with blue or red markers,” said Jared George, one of six Ontario Line Clearing and Tree Experts staffers who began working on Monday. He said it was tight work as they don't want to damage any healthy trees or have any debris fall into Fairy Lake. The smaller limbs are being dragged to a chipper and larger logs will be saved, possibly for future use.

Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) probably infected Saugeen Shores trees two or three years ago, and only this past summer was the devastating extent of the damage clear, especially at Fairy Lake.

“It moves very quickly and that's what caught us at Fairy Lake,” Burrows said, adding the loss of bark is the first obvious visible sign of disease, often caused by Woodpeckers attacking the diseased trees.

“We know EAB is in other areas of Saugeen Shores, but it is not showing itself, yet, so we don't have a specific map of EAB-diseased trees, but are constantly monitoring and as trees deteriorate and become a hazard we take them down,” Burrows said, adding they are “pondering internally” whether the Town should develop a forestry plan with a more systematic assessment of trees to better forecast any issues.

Within Saugeen Shores, Ash trees are native species in woodlots, hedges and fence lines. A 2015 inventory of trees on Town streets – not parks, other public lands or private lands – found six per cent of the 7,301 trees were Ash, and of those, 45 (9.3 per cent) had signs of EAB infestation and could be dead within three or four years.

The ash borer is indigenous to Asia and known to surface in China, Korea, Japan, Mongolia, the Russian Far East, and Taiwan.  It was probably introduced to North America in wood packaging. The insects' spread has been aided by the movement of nursery stock and especially firewood commonly found at camping sites.

Removal of the Ash trees at a cost of $85,000, is phase one of a $250,000 Fairy Lake restoration project. Phase two includes rehabilitation of the trail ringing the lake, two new pedestrian bridges, a second water fountain and a lookout – all with a Canada Day opening target. So, in the end, improvements will be made to the woodlot surrounding the tranquil lake and I am trying to be optimistic and hope for the best.

Such a shame though!  One really has to question the workings of Mother Nature at times like this.

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