Arch ground trees threatened by insect

6:33 PM, Oct 12, 2010   |    comments
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  • Gateway Arch ash trees

By Kathleen Berger

St. Louis, MO (KSDK) -- An unstoppable killer insect - killing trees. The same type of trees that line the walkways on the Gateway Arch Grounds.

There's a meeting Tuesday to educate the public about the fate of the 900 Rosehill Ash Trees on the Arch grounds. 

The Rosehill Ash Trees have graced the arch grounds for 40 years.  They provide walkers shade.  But the day will come when they will whither and die off, more quickly than anyone thought.  In the trees, there are traps to catch and find the tiny killers.

"There is an insect, the emerald ash borer, spreading throughout the united states, and eventually it will come here," said Bob Moore, Historian for the National Park Service.

It's just a matter of time: a year, maybe 10 years.  But there's no stopping the emerald ash borer from infecting ash trees at the arch. They have no natural predators, no effective way to be killed by pesticides, not for this many trees.

The Arch ash trees are at their mercy.  So the National park Service is holding a public meeting, educating the public.  Talking about the environmental assessment of the problem and possible solutions.

"The environmental assessment will tell us that. If we want to do a preemptive strike and go ahead and bite the bullet, replant. Or wait to see if it comes closer to st. Louis before we start to move." Moore said.

A list of eight trees that would thrive well here, is presented as viable replacements for the doomed ash. Frequent Arch visitors who enjoy the shade from the mature trees on their afternoon walks, have varied thoughts.

"I think they need to be real careful about what they choose to do, maybe sections of the park at a time. There's got to be something besides removing everything," said Arch visitor Teresa Minton.

"I'd just see how nature takes its course," said Arch visitor Steve Yordly.

"It would probably make sense to get new trees in place because in a few years you're going to have the remodeling down here, and it would look better if they were more mature at that time," said Arch visitor Jim Donner.

Remember the Arch grounds makeover competition: the design team that won is aware of the problem and will play an active role replacing the ash trees. The National Park Service is debating whether they should wait or act soon.



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