One of the 48 Ash trees on Park Street in Bar Harbor shows a large wound on its trunk. These trees have been deemed unhealthy by arborists, and some are set to be removed. ISLANDER PHOTO BY SAMUEL SHEPHERD

Ash trees near athletic fields deemed unhealthy

BAR HARBOR — Some of the ash trees on Park Street near the athletic fields will be cut down and replaced before the end of the year, town officials yet.

A September report from Ellsworth firm Atlantic Landscape Construction recommended the removal and replacement of a number of the unhealthy ash trees.

The report, the first step toward removal, was commissioned by Bar Harbor Public Works Director Chip Reeves.

Jeff Dobbs, the chair of the Parks and Recreation Committee, said tree removal is often contentious in Bar Harbor. The arborists’ report, he said, gives the town the opportunity to address concerns from the public. In the past, residents have been upset when trees are cut, citing their aesthetic appeal and importance as animal habitat.

“We all love trees as much as the next person,” he said. “But our main goal is public safety.”

The report from arborist Tabatha White was based on a meeting with Bar Harbor Highway Division Superintendent Scott Wood and a visual assessment of the trees.

She said that the healthiest trees have 5 to 10 percent dieback, a condition in plants in which they die from their extremities slowly back into the trunk. Some trees were showing full dieback and had large pruning wounds, and one was completely rotten.

“This particular species is susceptible to breakage either at the crotch due to poor formation or because the wood itself is weak and tends to break. Overall, it is my belief that the [alley] of Ash trees along [Park Street] is in decline,” White said.

Further, White wrote that ash trees are susceptible to the invasive emerald ash borer beetle. Larvae of the beetle feed under the bark of the tree, slowly cutting off the supply of nutrients to the tree. This beetle has not been spotted in Maine, but its presence has been confirmed in 31 states and two Canadian provinces.

The report concludes by saying the trees should be “immediately” removed and replaced with “large shade trees.”

The report is the first step in the removal process. Public Works Office Manager Suzanne Banis said that the town hopes 18 of the 48 trees will be removed by the end of 2017.

Reeves said that the town budgeted money for this removal in 2006, but more pressing tree work pushed it to the back burner. The budget in 2006 was $12,000, but the total cost of the project may be closer to $15,000. Officials have not yet contracted the work to any party.

Samuel Shepherd

Samuel Shepherd

Samuel Shepherd is a University of Maine graduate and a former Bar Harbor reporter for the Mount Desert Islander.
Samuel Shepherd

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