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Bids received to remove 53 trees from dam

BUCKEYE LAKE – A total of 53 trees will be removed from Buckeye Lake’s earthen dam by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. Buckeye Lake State Park manager Jason Wesley said the total includes trees individual property owners have requested removed.

ODNR spokesman John Wisse said Wednesday the start date for the project is yet to be determined, but he estimated it would be at least a few weeks before the sawing begins. Trees to be removed are marked with a blue plastic dot on the lakeside of the tree.

Wesley said the trees need to be down before March 15, 2014, and Dec. 2 bids were opened from companies wanting to do the work. The name of the company awarded the bid was not available Wednesday.

The Ohio Division of Parks and Recreation sent a letter to dam property owners. According to the letter, dated Nov. 5: “The infestation of the Emerald Ash Borer has caused devastation to Ohio’s ash tree population in addition to other species of trees made hazardous by damage from pests, disease, storms, and age. As part of an ongoing statewide effort to identify and remove diseased ash trees as well as other hazardous trees from Ohio’s state parks, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Division of Forestry has performed inspections to evaluate all trees within Ohio State Parks.

“This fall, the Division of Parks will be removing those trees in Buckeye Lake State Park, including along the dam, identified as diseased or dangerous by the Division of Forestry, as well as those along the dam requested by adjacent homeowners. This project will be funded through the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

“This project is not an effort to remove all trees from the Buckeye Lake Dam, nor is it associated with any future projects proposed for Buckeye Lake. Please note that any trees removed from the dam embankment will not be replaced.”

Millersport resident Beth Kessler said she owns a common hackberry tree scheduled to be removed that is not diseased and has never requested that it be removed. “It’s definitely on the list,” she said. “I have no clue why they put me on the list.” Kessler said the tree used to be unkempt, but she has since hired an arborist to help rejuvenate the common hackberry. “I have a lot of money wrapped up in it,” she said, adding that she would be “very upset” if the tree is removed. Kessler said she’s working with park officials to determine why the tree is on the list.

Dawes Arboretum Director of Horticulture Mike Ecker said he agrees with the removal of the ash trees, specifically. “I’m guessing if they are mostly ash trees, they are taking them now as opposed to after Emerald Ash Borer has killed them, as they inevitably will,” he said. “If municipalities wait, the cost of removing them all at once will be high. Plus, after (Emerald Ash Borer) has killed an ash there is about two years before the tree becomes brittle, dropping branches, which then becomes a liability.”

But, resident John Sproat said he looked at the trees to be removed and determined that only roughly a quarter are ash trees.

Wisse said he wasn’t aware of any trees to be removed that weren’t requested or diseased. He said the Ohio Division of Forestry inventoried the trees to be removed. Wisse disagreed that any trees are being removed unnecessarily. “We’re not taking anything that does not have to be taken,” he said.

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