‘The insect is everywhere now’: arborist calms concern over spreading city firewood to SD&G

The emerald ash borer. (Photo/Canadian Food Inspection Agency)

CORNWALL/SD&G – The city’s tree expert is allaying some fears of United Counties councillors over the spreading of firewood, possibly infected with the Emerald Ash Borer.

County councillors had expressed concern earlier this year that people in SD&G would be picking up the cut firewood from the city and bringing it into the United Counties, spreading the insect in the process.

“All of Ontario is a quarantined area. So it goes right up to Thunder Bay now, it’s 150-200 kilometers in Quebec so moving firewood isn’t an issue now…the insect’s everywhere,” said Scott Porter, arborist with the City of Cornwall.

“We do tell people to keep it local but by moving firewood around, the insect is everywhere now,” he said.

Cornwall is spending nearly $34,000 this year to cut down hundreds of ash trees within the city limits to mitigate the inevitable damage from the Emerald Ash Borer.

A company from Carleton Place, Ont. was the lowest bid of three contractors who submitted bids.

As of last month, 150 trees had been slated to be cut down and there could be another 400-500 to be cut as the summer goes on. In 2015, the city chopped down 500 trees.

While Cornwall has about 4,500 ash trees, Porter estimates there about 5,000 to 6,000 privately owned trees.

“So there’s are still a huge amount of ash trees in town that are going to start dying,” Porter said.

He said the Marleau Avenue area had fully dead ash trees in 2014 and signs of infestation started showing up in Riverdale in 2015.

“The problem with ash trees is, the roots die, and the tree falls over. It’s not like the elms where you have a standing dead elm…when they die from Dutch elm disease. What’s happening with the ash is the roots start dying and then the tree falls over, so that’s where the big liability is,” Porter told Cornwall Newswatch.

The arborist said the city has a multi-year plan to deal with dying trees so it doesn’t find itself in a situation like the City of Hamilton where the resources and the budget can’t keep up with the massive tree kill.

The corporation has $400,000 in the budget for Emerald Ash Borer plans this year for tree planting, stumping and tree injection, in addition to the tree cutting.

Porter said the science behind the injection of trees with TreeAzin every other year has changed slightly given the aggressive nature of the bug.

“What they find is the concentrations of the ash borer are so high that in adjacent areas where you’re not treating, the injection wasn’t sufficient for the second year. So we’re now treating two years and then you skip the third year,” he said.

As for the suggestion from some city councillors that the city could make money selling the firewood, Porter said there’s no market for ash.

The wood is cut into 14-16 inch lengths and left at the city’s wood bin location at Optimist Park.