August 16, 2017

Ash Trees in Fieldwood Manors To Get Insect-Fighting Treatment

There is something visually satisfying about an avenue, or allee, of trees leading into a neighborhood. But planting trees of the same species in such close proximity can be asking for trouble. In Princeton, that trouble is in the form of the emerald ash borer, the metallic green beetle that has the potential to destroy nearly all of the town’s ash trees.

Residents of the Fieldwood Manors development off Cherry Valley Road are fortunate, because the ash trees that line the road into the neighborhood have been targeted for treatment. Princeton Council approved a resolution on August 7 to hire Robert Wells Tree and Landscape, Inc. for the job.

“People like the formal look of having the same tree planted close to the street, and unfortunately, the builder at Fieldwood was allowed to plant close to 80 of the ash trees,” said Lorraine Konopka, the town’s arborist. “But when you get an insect or a disease, anywhere with close proximity sets you up. Unless it’s an arboretum or some kind of high profile, lush setting where you can actually manage and treat the trees, you’re in trouble.”

There are other developments in and around Princeton that have ash trees, but they are “not so lucky,” Ms Konopka said. One of the residents of Fieldwood has been fertilizing the trees, so they are in good enough condition to make treatment an option. “I do have other developments in town that have trees in terrible condition, and we have to take them down.”

Ms. Konopka will paint a green dot on each of the trees that are going to be injected with pesticide. Letters will be mailed to those who have ash trees in front of their houses. She hopes the job will be completed by the end of September.

The pesticide will be injected into the base of the trees through small, drilled holes. “That way, there is limited exposure,” Ms. Konopka said. “It can take from 15 to 30 minutes. Once you’re done, and you remove the apparatus, the tree is going to heal over that wound.”

Inventory indicates there are close to 1,900 ash trees in Princeton’s right of way, and that figure does not include parks or private property. “So we have neighborhoods in town, on Lake Drive and Riverside, anywhere near water, that might have yards with dozens of ash trees,” Ms. Konopka said. “I’ve been telling people, they need to pay attention and decide which of the trees they love. They [those to be saved] have to be healthy and in good shape. If it’s not really a picture-perfect specimen, it is not worth investing sometimes a couple hundred dollars to protect it.”

How long will the treated trees survive? “There is a lot of information out there. Fifteen years of scientific research tells us that if you do nothing, you will lose them all. But if trees are healthy, you’re able to preserve them at least for a while. The idea is that you try to hold onto them as long as you can,” she said.

Ms. Konopka urges those interested in offering assistance to visit for information about the Adopt an Ash program, which allows residents to pay for a licensed tree service to treat a public ash tree. Alternately, people can contribute to the town’s Tree Fund for ash tree treatment or for the planting of new trees to replace those removed.