Poland village weighs options for ash tree removal


By Jordyn Grzelewski

jgrzelewski@vindy.com

POLAND

The village faces a decision about its response to the emerald ash borer, the insect that has caused a tree-killing epidemic.

Village officials say dead trees in the Poland Municipal Forest pose a risk to the public, and they are considering removing those trees. Some members of the public who use the forest for recreation agree, but others want the forest left in its natural state.

“A lot of them are on the main walking paths,” said Mayor Tim Sicafuse. “We’ve looked at everything, from cutting all of the [diseased] ash trees down, to some of them, to none of them.”

“We don’t want to cut down any trees,” he said. “But if we know there’s a giant tree right above the path ... we’ve still got to make sure, as the village, that we’re doing everything right to keep everyone safe.”

The village will host a public hearing on the issue at 6 p.m. Aug. 4 before a village council meeting at 7 p.m.

Poland resident Ian Renne, an associated professor of ecology at Youngstown State University, spoke out in opposition to tree removal at a recent council meeting.

Renne, who frequently takes his students to the municipal forest, says the dead ash trees are important for maintaining ecological diversity.

“They might be more important [than live trees] in that they represent a lot of stored nutrients that will be recycled back into the system,” he said. “Arguably most importantly, standing dead trees are the single greatest predictor of bird diversity in a temperate deciduous forest.”

“Truly from where there is death, there is life. And I personally view standing dead trees as beautiful in the systems,” Renne said.

A state forester will be at the public hearing. Elinor Zedaker, president of the forest board, said she wants to hear from an expert before the board makes a decision.