Big-4 Rail Trail to close in Zionsville for ash tree removal

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By Dawn Pearson

A slender green beetle, smaller than a penny, is killing ash trees across the nation, including in Zionsville.

The emerald ash borer is native to east Asia and likely made its way to the U.S. in recent years on solid wood packing materials in cargo ships or airplanes. It has been found in 31 states and in Canada, where its larvae have killed hundreds of millions of ash trees and led to regulatory agencies to enforce quarantines and fines to prevent potentially infested trees from moving to areas not yet facing the infestation.

In Zionsville, areas along the Big-4 Rail Trail might temporarily close this winter as the town’s parks department works with outside contractors to take down large ash trees. The closures will take place when trees are ready to come down and aren’t expected to last for more than several minutes at a time.

“The trees that are being taken down due to the emerald ash borer all have the potential, when they fall, to cause damage to trails and structures,” said Matt Dickey, superintendent of Zionsville parks and recreation. “We will be leaving trunks or snags for wildlife to nest, such as the woodpeckers and other animals, which is a positive addition after losing so many trees.”

Zionsville has already removed more than 40 dead ash trees, but there are still more than 1,000 in town parks, Dickey said.

“The trees we are taking down have the potential to fall on the rail trail and could also hurt trail users,” Dickey said. “It’s all for public safety. That is our responsibility.”


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