Southeastern PA

Milford Township's ash trees under threat from destructive pest

MILFORD TWP., Pa. - In a bid to preserve hundreds of ash trees along hiking trails and many public use wooded areas, Milford Township officials have agreed to hire a forester to conduct a risk assessment as a highly-invasive pest is being blamed for destruction of many ash trees throughout the municipality. 

During Tuesday's board of supervisors meeting, officials, in a unanimous vote, agreed to hire Curtis Eshleman, of the Doylestown-based Timberlink Consulting firm, to come up with an assessment and plan on how to deal with the threat posed by a pest thought to have immigrated from Asia in late 1990s.

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, the bug known as the emerald ash borer can now be found in nearly every county in the state.

"I think what we've got to do is identify the risks and get it on the ground so that we don't have problems," township manager Jeff Vey said.

Officials didn't say how much it would cost to hire Eshleman but said that cleaning up the destroyed ash trees and brush could be costly. 

Board chairman Robert Mansfield said that the emerald ash borer has been posing risk to local trees for about five years, and the situation is getting worse. Two years ago, the township was placed under quarantine which prohibits residents from transporting wood into other municipalities.

"The [pest] has infiltrated this area tremendously. We have a lot of trails that run through naturally wooded areas and we need an expert to tell us what trees are in danger," Mansfield said. "If the trees fall, they would fall on trails and we want to be preemptive by taking them out ahead of time."

Known for its distinctive metallic green color, the half inch long tree beetle usually kills a tree by eating away on the inner bark, creating a D-shaped hole.

Of the 300 million ash trees in danger in Pennsylvania, more than 100 million trees are believed to have been destroyed by the emerald beetle in the 19 states where the bug was sighted.

Milford Township officials said they hope Eshleman can help them come up with a plan to save their local trees.

"Curt is the forester that helped us manage things and get bids together to clean up after Hurricane Sandy went through and demolished our parks," Mansfield said, "we do have a good bit of experience with him in the past."

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