By Evamarie Socha
The Daily Item
LEWISBURG — The dreaded emerald ash borer has been found in several trees at Lewisburg Area Recreation Park on St. Marys Street, prompting the park’s immediate closure until further notice, officials announced Friday.
The insect doesn’t threaten human or animal health, but presents a safety hazard as infected ash tree branches die and fall abruptly, said Katie Davis, executive director of the Buffalo Valley Recreation Authority.
“We’ve kind of known it was coming here,” Davis said of the pest, noting the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources confirmed the ash borer’s presence in the park last week. It’s not known how many of the park’s more than 100 ash trees are affected, she said. A number show signs of advanced infestation, she said.
The only areas still open to the public will be the warming house facility and the dog park off St. Lawrence Street.
The rest of the park is barricaded.
Buffalo Valley Regional Police have been notified and will enforce the restriction on the park.
“Hopefully, this will be a quick process,” Davis said. “Right now, it’s in the borough’s hands.”
Lewisburg officials have been preparing since July to deal with the emerald ash borer, completing a borough-wide inventory of 140 trees to identify their locations and assess the health. The Lewisburg Area Recreation Park is on borough property and was included in this data collection.
The park is dense with ash trees, and the safety concern of falling branches demands its closure until all trees can be assessed, Davis said. Depending on the progression of damage in each tree, some may be treatable with insecticides, while others in which the infestation is too far gone will need removal.
“There is no quick and easy cure-all,” Davis said. “We are working closely with Lewisburg borough to complete the tree inventory and come up with a plan so we can get the park back open to the public as soon as possible.”
The assessment and treatment process likely will happen over the next few months, she said.
The emerald ash borer was detected in Union County in 2010, according to DCNR. It’s an exotic beetle native to Asia and was first discovered in the United States in 2002. It has been found in 18 states since.
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