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'We just had to': Emerald Ash Borer leads to removal of most trees at Howard park

Posted at 5:19 PM, Mar 15, 2024

Deer Run Park in Howard looks markedly different compared to last year. "99 percent" of the park's trees were Ash trees that were dead or dying due to Emerald Ash Borer, a Howard official said.

  • Emerald Ash Borer, an invasive species that can kill Ash trees, is present in every county in northeast Wisconsin, according to the Wisconsin DNR
  • The vast majority of trees at Deer Run Park in Howard needed to be removed due to Emerald Ash Borer, a Village official said
  • Watch the video to learn what the Emerald Ash Borer does to a tree

(The following is a transcript of the broadcast story.)

I'm Jon Erickson in Howard, and this is Deer Run Park. It looks a lot different than it used to, and a Village official says the vast majority of trees were cut down here because of Emerald Ash Borer, and because of safety [concerns]...

"I came here everyday for my outdoor workout," [said Connor Fullmer].

The park that Connor Fullmer visits in Howard, used to look like this.

"[I] usually come out here to enjoy nature, and came out here two days ago, and... it looks like this," [Fullmer said].

"Now it's just flat, empty. Kind of sad, honestly," [Fullmer said].

A Village of Howard official told me, a bug is to blame, and all of this comes down to safety.

"Due to the Emerald Ash Borer and all the Ash trees dying in Deer Run Park, we had to remove all the trees; there's a handful of trees that we were able to save, but it was probably 99 percent Ash tree that are either dead or dying," [said Mike Harris, Superintendent of Parks, Forestry, & Golf for the Village of Howard].

He says a tree killed by Emerald Ash Borer becomes very brittle, and the trees become a safety concern.

[There's a risk of one of the trees] "possibly falling on a park user," [Harris said].

According to the USDA, the Emerald Ash Borer beetle was unknown in North America until it was discovered in southeast Michigan in 2002.

The USDA says it probably arrived in wood material used to ship consumer products.

More than two decades later... the DNR says it's been found in every county in northeast Wisconsin.

And what does the pest do to a tree?

"Bores underneath the bark... it cuts off all the conductive tissues for water and nutrients," [Harris said].

It all means a visit to Deer Run Park looks different for Connor and anyone else.

"It's not something that we wanted to have to do, but due to the safety issues and invasive species, it's something we just had to do," [Harris said.]

Harris says most of the underbrush was also invasive, and removed, too.

He says crews plan to soon replant using native species.

And he says if you have an Ash tree in your yard that you're concerned about, just get in touch with a professional.