Hazard Ash Tree Removal at Schlitz Audubon

Like many natural areas in our region,
Schlitz Audubon is dealing with the effects
of the invasive Emerald Ash Borer Beetle (EAB).

Part of our EAB response plan includes the removal of hazard trees. You may have noticed some trees at the Center painted with an orange “X.” This “X” does indeed mark the spot where a dying ash tree could pose a future hazard.

Trees that pose potential hazards have been surveyed and will be cut down in order of greatest necessity. Areas of heightened concern are near buildings, along trails, parking areas and roads. Trees marked with an “X” do not pose any immediate threat to Schlitz Audubon visitors, but in the interest of safety, we will proactively cut them down.

Ash trees at more remote locations, and which do not pose a threat, will be monitored and allowed to stand and die in place. These trees will provide homes for innumerable insects, fungi, lichens, and birds.

Dying ash trees
will become nesting habitat
for woodpeckers and many other animals.

Several options are being considered for how to best use the wood from ash trees that will be cut down. Our priority is to find ways in which downed trees can be recycled and used on Center grounds. Young ash poles are already being used as fencing in the Preschool play space. Ash wood chips will be used to maintain the Center’s trails. Large diameter branches will add coarse woody debris to the forest floor – providing improved habitat for mole salamanders and a variety of native snakes.

EAB will tragically cause the loss of four native species of ash and many native insects that rely on ash for all or part of their life cycle. 35% of the Center’s forest canopy is ash. In response, Schlitz Audubon has accelerated our diversification goals for the land. Our woody plant restoration planting list is comprised of 138 native species, including 50 canopy and sub-canopy trees. We will plant 2,000 native trees and shrubs per year through 2026. This diverse variety will better support native and migratory wildlife, and will strengthen the biological integrity of these 185 acres.

If you hear the sounds of chainsaws, or see signs indicating that trees are being cut down, please respect this temporary trail closure and do not go past signs. Hazard ash tree removal is the first step toward creating a safer, more rich and resilient ecosystem.

 

Written by Marc White, Schlitz Audubon Director of Conservation