DPW Director Calls in Tree Experts to Deal with Ash Borers

August 31, 2022

Public Works Director David Manugian briefed the Arbor Resources Committee on efforts to combat the Emerald ash borer, which already has levied a death sentence on many local ash trees.

During a virtual committee meeting Thursday, Manugian said he already has received a preliminary plan from Bartlett Tree Experts, a national firm whose resume includes insect management.

Bartlett, Manugian said, has “dealt with this in other towns and has a variety of proposed solutions.” Committee Chair Dan Churella noted that he has been told that Bartlett “is pretty good at trying to save trees.”

Still, Manugian continued, “roughly based on the two areas we analyzed so far – Town Hall and John Glenn Middle School — 10 to 20 percent we think we can save with a chemical treatment, maybe up to 30 percent are already dead, the rest maybe have two more years.”

“We are going to start taking down some trees in the next month in the Town Hall parking lot” before Bedford Day Sept. 17, he told the committee.

Churella noted that the ash borer has been verified in the region for several years; he asked what brough the arrival in Bedford to his attention. Manugian said he received a call from one of his predecessors, retired DPW Director Richard Warrington, who said he noticed damage among ash trees he had planted off Page Road near the Shawsheen Road wellfield.

Manugian said Nick Pouliot, recently appointed tree warden, was familiar with the pest. “He started looking around town and found them all over the place.”

The director and members offered some hopeful observations:

The insect appears to be doing its damage in clusters of ash trees, Manugian said; “Individual trees so far seem to be thriving. It’s still very early on.” Committee member Deb Edinger said this should be a consideration in future town plantings. “There are issues with monocultures,” agreed Churella.

The ash borer penetrates the bark and lays eggs in the trees’ cambium; “the lumber should be clean,” said member Bobbi Tornheim. “This wood is valuable and useful,” Churella stated. Manugian was cautious; “we are going to quarantine the wood at 108 Carlisle Road and are not going to let it leave the property. We haven’t even taken down any trees yet – we are at the very beginning of this process.”

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