Mass tree removal project on campus


ETHAN COSTELLO | coste012@rangers.uwp.edu

During the winter of 2015, the Kenosha Parks Department began a project to remove all ash trees from Petrifying Springs Park due to the infestation of the Emerald Ash Borer beetle. These beetles lay eggs beneath the tree’s bark and, upon hatching, the larvae burrow into and inevitably kill the tree. This can cause a public safety hazard by decaying the tree limbs to the point where they could possibly fall. Since the Kenosha Parks Department has no jurisdiction on campus property, UW-Parkside has enacted their own project. Don Kolbe, Director of Facilities Management of UW-Parkside, says that they plan to begin removing ash trees in December.

UW-Parkside’s ongoing plans

Last spring, Facilities Management had begun removal of ash trees in the area surrounding Ranger Hall and other campus buildings. Their next phase is to cut down the trees within the the cross-country course south of Petrifying Springs Park. There are some 2,000 ash trees that Facilities Management have surveyed which are scheduled for removal. Facilities Management will not begin the removal process until this winter so as to avoid danger to the runners. However, this will still affect those who may enjoy a casual run on the course during Winterim. Runners are asked to be aware of their surroundings and to use caution during this time. Depending on the contractor, it could take a couple months for removal to be complete in the course.

Ash tree repurposing

In the lumber industry, ash is a less desireable wood. However, not all of the axed trees will go to waste. Kolbe says they have various uses in mind for many of the trees. Some of them will be chipped into mulch for the campus’ grounds. Other trees will be cut and sold to various bidders. The rest may be left to decompose into humus, which will enrich the soil with nutrients.

No plans for remediation

There are currently no plans in the works for replanting trees to make up for the ones that were lost. The first move is to cut down the trees to take care of the safety issue. Simply due to insufficient funds, Kolbe says, “We’re not going to put 2,600 trees back after we take 2,600 trees down. It’s not going to happen.” He suggested that they need not do anything at all. Nature will take its course as oak trees are prone to take root in open spaces. Within the next 50 years, the ash trees in the cross-country course should be supplanted with young oaks.

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