July 23, 2014

Medina
Cloudy
70°F

ELECTION: Levy seeks to repair damage from invasive beetles

A dying ash tree looms over Wolff Road in York Township. A levy on the November ballot would be used to maintain roads — including uprooting ash trees along roads to prevent them from falling in the way of motorists. Trees across Ohio are dying because of the emerald ash borer, shown at top, an invasive species of beetle native to Asia and Russia. (GAZETTE PHOTO BY NICK GLUNT)

A York Township roads levy is on the ballot this November, in part to clean up the mess left by an invasive insect that’s destroying ash trees throughout Ohio.

Township Trustee Colene Conley said workers identified 225 dead or dying trees that are at risk of falling onto roads.

The emerald ash borer is the “most destructive forest pest ever seen in North America,” according to Deborah McCullough and Robin Usborne, of Michigan State University. It’s unknown how the beetle arrived in the U.S. from Asia and Russia, but the Ohio Department of National Resources reported millions of ash trees have died statewide since 2003, when the insect was first confirmed in Ohio. (PHOTO PROVIDED)

It would cost $400 to $600 to uproot each one, she said.

“With the right type of climate and weather, those trees could fall in the roads,” Conley said. “Who wants to have a tree hit a car or something?”

The trees are at risk because of the emerald ash borer, an invasive beetle species native to Asia and Russia.

Conley said the township is calling for a 1.7-mill levy on the Nov. 5 ballot to be proactive against the damage from the insect, as well as to maintain and fix the roads in the township. Specifically, she said repairs are needed on Haury and Spieth roads, Water Street and Lampson Avenue.

The five-year levy would cost the owner of a $100,000 home about $59.50 annually. It would raise $174,000.

She said the levy is needed for roads because costs of repair materials such as asphalt have increased. Tree removal is included under the levy if they grow on or near the public right of way, she said.

The levy would make up in part for a grant the township missed out on from the Ohio Department of Forestry to deal with the ash trees. About $300,000 in grant money was awarded to communities in 28 Ohio counties, but Conley said townships weren’t eligible.

Still, she said something needs to be done about the trees.

“All you have to do is drive down the roads and take a look at all the trees that are dying,” Conley said.

Contact reporter Nick Glunt at (330) 721-4048 or nglunt@medina-gazette.com.