Emerald ash borer killing a school district ‘revenue source’

Emerald ash borer could bring some money to Warren County School District.

The invasive pest is killing ash trees.

If ash trees on the Allegheny National Forest are harvested before they die and lose their value, the district will receive a portion of the sales receipts.

At a special meeting Friday morning, the school board voted to send a letter to ANF leadership.

At committee meetings on Monday, Jun 25, board member Joe Colosimo asked if the district should be asking the forest leadership to move forward with harvesting ash trees that are being killed by emerald ash borer. “There’s a revenue source out there that’s dying,” Colosimo said.

Board member Arthur Stewart, who has led tours of district properties pointing out the ash thereon, agreed and spelled out some language.

The letter will be sent “urging a more rapid response to the emerald ash borer infestation encouraging that it advances the pace and scope of the harvesting to avoid the inevitable waste of the white ash trees which are certainly terminal.”

According to the U.S. Forest Service, mortality of previously healthy infested ash stands is expected to be close to 100 percent.

Stewart said ANF inventories indicate the total value of ash on the ANF to be about $100 million. Through the Secure Rural Schools act, local schools and governments receive a portion of timber harvests from national forest lands.

Locally, that could mean $25 million to those entities if 100 percent of the trees are harvested, Stewart said.

The ANF is lagging far behind actively managed private land and state land in harvesting ash trees, he said.

He said the forest is ‘experimenting’ and working to save some trees. While that is worthwhile, the cost of a particular, known treatment is high.

“The cost for the treatment of one tree exceeds the value of the tree,” Stewart said.