Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) is wreaking havoc on ash trees across the Town of the Blue Mountains (TBM).
In the town’s 2021 budget document, TBM staff noted that the town’s ash trees are dying off at an accelerated rate and will all need to be cut down.
According to the report, the town has over 60,000 trees that require removal and the EAB invasion has reached a point that all ash trees on town-owned lands, roadways, parks and trails or underdeveloped lands, need to be removed.
In 2020, TBM spent $25,587.53 for ash tree removal just along the town’s 20.5 km portion of the Georgian Trail alone.
Last year staff focused on the removal of ash trees affected by the EAB along the trail from Lakeshore Road East to County Road 19.
In addition, the town removed several dead and hazardous trees along various locations of the trail – including hiring contractors for the removal of ash trees from Georgian Peaks to Wards Road.
The $25,000-plus expense made up more than half of the town’s 2020 operating costs for the Georgian Trail, which totalled $42,982.04.
“2020 will be the last year the town utilizes an exterior contractor. That is an item that’s being moved internally, so our parks and trails staff will now be looking out for that moving forward,” said Ryan Gibbons, director of community services for TBM.
The remaining 13.5 kms of the 34 km Georgian Trail are managed by Meaford and the Town of Collingwood, and those municipalities would be financially responsible for tree maintenance and removal along their sections of trail.
“This is something I can bring up to the mayor’s roundtable because, certainly if a person starts cycling in the Blue Mountains and enters into one of the other municipalities we would want to make sure the trail is safe for its entire length and not just in our jurisdiction,” said TBM mayor, Alar Soever.
Gibbons added that as the town removes the diseased and dead trees from the trailside, it is also making an effort to replant.
“Although we are removing a lot of the ash trees and hazard trees, Terry Green [manager of parks and trails] has done a great job in implementing that replacement program,” said Gibbons.
According to Gibbons, the town has been working in partnership with the Grey Sauble Conservation Authority to plant 300 seedlings along the section of the trail from Georgian Peaks to Hidden Lake Road.
For 2021, the town has allotted $150,000 in order to continue with its ash tree removal program across the entire municipality.