Ash trees in Columbia

As you may know, Howard County Bureau of Highways and Columbia Association (CA) have been removing ash trees affected by the emerald ash borer, an invasive species of beetle whose larva feed on and destroy ash trees. The emerald ash borer is highly destructive and poses a threat to the ash tree population across North America. Howard County has a process in place to help protect the remaining healthy ash trees.

Ashes are estimated to make up less than 10% of the trees in Columbia’s forest areas. Where ash trees occur, though, they are in high concentrations or in well-used areas. In many Columbia communities all of the street trees are (or were) ash. And ashes naturally occur in high concentrations in floodplains. While there are other more common tree species, if many of the trees behind your home are removed or if the trees on your street are removed, it’s likely to be a concern.

Most of Columbia’s open space acreage is forested areas in stream corridors and floodplains so there are stands of ash in every village. CA has removed several hundred ashes in open space and around CA buildings so far. In some areas this has resulted in the loss of screening for homes. CA has a goal to plant a tree for every tree removed. It is meeting that goal through reforestation plantings in wooded areas and by planting new trees in landscaped areas. Dead trees with proximity to a potential “target” (human use areas or property) are prioritized for removal. Where trees are removed, CA staff evaluate conditions to ensure that the right replacement tree is planted in the right place.

For more information about the ash issue, below is a link to the County’s FAQ publication:

Emerald Ash Borer FAQs

If you have questions about ash tree removal on county property, which includes street trees and Recreation and Parks managed County parkland, you may call the County Bureau of Highways at 410-313-7450.



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