Scourge of invasive marks ash tree's final days

Posted on February 24, 2012

I am not an every-tree-is-sacred sentimentalist, having chain-sawed, split, and fed my wood stove with many cords of maple, ash, hickory, and oak over the past 30-odd years.

But I am compelled to say a few words in parting about the demise of a certain green ash tree that stood just down the road. It was one of those lone roadside sentinels that still occasionally dot the rural farm lanes, offering a little eye-relief to the dreary monotony of modern, “clean” crop monoculture.

More importantly, it also was a grandfather tree, one of the oldest in my neck of the woods, er, farmlands. I know it was 88 years old, give or take a couple growing seasons, because that is how many rings the stump showed.

Not many trees make it that long hereabouts. But when we got back from a recent trip to Colorado, it was down, its heaviest trunk-logs still lying about like a pile of broken toys. I had known that Grampaw Ash was a goner for several years. The invasive monstrosity known as the emerald ash borer – another gift from Asia along with all those cheap junk products – claimed the old sentinel. The borers sucked out its life and prematurely shortened its senior years, just like they have done so relentlessly, so unstoppably, to tens of thousands of other ash trees across the Midwest.

I have lost at least 14 ash trees just around my home, let alone the many other goners in the surrounding creek bottom. You see these lines of dead trees everywhere nowadays. I try to leave mine for the woodpeckers as long as I can; but ash get brittle quickly, and in a couple of years they are subject to cracking off major limbs or outright toppling.

For the rest of this story, see the March 2 edition of Ohio Outdoor News.

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