Saving or re-using trees damaged by the Emerald Ash Borer

HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) — The Emerald Ash Borer, an invasive insect that kills ash trees, was confirmed in Harrisonburg in 2017. Harrisonburg Parks and Recreation created a wood reutilization program to keep the trees killed by the insect out of the landfill.

Last summer, work began on making a table out of a large ash tree that was removed from Westover Park because of emerald ash borer damage. The trunk was milled at a local mill, then taken to a local crafter where it was made into a table. The table is now finished and sits in the conference room in the community activity center at the park.

Jeremy Harold, the superintendent for Harrisonburg Parks and Recreation, says projects like this are important because of how many ash trees are impacted in Harrisonburg, and that the population continues to grow.

"More than likely, every tree in our area has Emerald Ash Borer; it's just the fact if it's shown signs or symptoms yet. So if you have an ash tree, and you know it's an ash tree, and you want to save it, the time is now to treat it," said Harold.

He says the city has treated 36 large ash trees to protect against damage, and they're keeping an eye on them to see how they do this spring.

"If they don't leaf out, then we need to be more persistent and go ahead and start taking the trees down. Because they'll start to dry out really quickly, and start falling apart and become a hazard."

If you have ash trees on your property you would like to save, local tree companies can treat them every two years. It can be somewhat expensive to treat them, but it can be less expensive if you plan it with your neighbors. Any ash tree left alone will be killed by the ash borer.

If you have a tree that must come down, you can contact Parks and Recreation or the Virginia Department of Forestry. They can direct you to a way to reuse the wood.