Ozark, Mo. -- The Parks & Recreations Department plans to plant new trees at Finely River and Neil Grubaugh parks after a tree company removed 24 trees in the Fall of 2023.
"We are looking forward to Spring when our Parks Maintenance team can work with local partners to start the process of planting new trees," said interim Parks & Recreation director Hayden Ponsar.
The removal was made possible by a grant the City received from the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC).
The removed trees posed a risk to visitors and the park's environment as they were either dying or already dead due to infestation by the emerald ash borer.
Jon Skinner, community forester with MDC, explains best in this video.
Ponsar said removing the ash trees in Finley River and Neil Grubaugh parks was imperative not only to maintain the beauty of these natural areas but also to keep patrons of the parks safe when walking the trails.
"The Missouri Department of Conservation grant allowed us to tackle a problem impacting ash trees nationwide. We thank the MDC staff who came on-site and helped identify the trees and work through their grant process, and our parks maintenance superintendent Coby Murrill, who recognized this issue and pushed to address it."
The emerald ash borer is an invasive insect species that can cause severe damage to ash trees. The main goal in removing the selected trees is to prevent them from collapsing near or on park visitors or structures.
In early December, the Board of Aldermen voted to allow the City to secure and accept a Community Forestry Cost-Share Grant through MDC to remove green ash trees under threat from emerald ash borer
An MDC Community Forester thoroughly assessed the parks to select the trees at the most risk. The trees had to be removed from November through March to minimize the potential impact on bat populations.
This entire project cost about $29,760. The MDC grant will cover $22,320, with the City responsible for the remaining $7,440.
For information on signs of infestation, how to test your trees, and treatment options, check out this article: https://www.ozarkmissouri.com/CivicAlerts.aspx?AID=383.