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Caring for the trees at Morgan’s Grove Park

By Staff | Apr 3, 2020

SHEPHERDSTOWN — Here in Shepherdstown, Morgan’s Grove Park is and has been a part of the lives of area residents and their families for many years.

Children who once played in the woods, stream and playground are now themselves parents of children who enjoy doing those same things. The park provides the people of Shepherdstown and the surrounding areas with a place to enjoy the “wild and wonderful” outdoors right here in our own backyard.

One of the greatest features of the park are the trees, where groves of stately ash, oak, maple, sycamore and Osage orange have grown to full maturity. One of the ash trees is now more than five feet in diameter! It was once listed as the third largest in West Virginia. Today, its shade fits with some other 75 ash trees within the park, cared for by the Shepherdstown Community Club, which has owned and maintained the park for the past 75 years.

For the past six years, SCC’s Board of Directors has worked with community members to treat the ash trees and protect them from the emerald ash borer infestation introduced to the United States 20 years ago. In the spring of 2014, local tree experts agreed that the emerald ash borer had reached the park, and Trees 101 began treating our trees.

The treatments have been successful, and after reviewing recent studies and consulting with Trees 101 owner and certified arborist Shawn Walker, the board has decided to continue those $12,000 treatments through 2021, which have been funded by community and organizational donations, including the Cacapon Institute and the Eastern Panhandle Conservation District.

After thinking about the value of its trees, the SCC has decided to take steps to ensure the preservation of all of its trees. SCC Park Manager David Rosen is working with Eric Berndt, owner of Viking Trees, LLC, to prune limbs damaged by weather or natural processes. If you see where some of the limbs have been removed, know it was to help the tree survive and protect those enjoying our park. Please walk around the safety cones and taped-off areas you may see over the next several months. Viking Trees, LLC, plans to donate its time to the park several days a month. We are thankful for their efforts to preserve our trees, knowing it is Berndt’s inner calling to save the trees motivating him to help.

A third way the SCC is caring for the park’s trees, is through monitoring the state of its dying mature maple trees adjacent to the lower parking lot. As they are monitored over the next growing season, some of them may need to be removed. During the summer, our park manager and tree experts will identify which trees need to be removed, and will post signs to notify the public in advance.

The club is currently considering memorializing the trees that have been removed.

Community members and organizations wishing to donate funds for the emerald ash borer treatments should visit www.shepherdstowncommunityclub.com or call SCC President Jennifer Wabnitz at 304-995-6689. Community members are also invited to participate in caring for the park in other ways, such as with future scheduled park cleanup days. Please come and enjoy the park, which is what the SCC works so hard to provide.

The SCC’s reward comes when park visitors smile and laugh as they blend into the fabric of the forest and breathe new life into our community.