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Shepherdstown Community Club works to continue treatment of ash tree

By Toni Milbourne - For the Chronicle | Jul 9, 2021

Morgan’s Grove Park has pathways lined with trees, many of them mature ash trees that must receive continued treatment to prevent damage from the emerald ash borer. Courtesy photo

SHEPHERDSTOWN — The stately trees found at Morgan’s Grove Park provide shade, as well as serenity, to park visitors. The park features many varieties of trees grown to maturity, including maples, oaks, sycamores, ash and an Osage orange.

One of the beloved ash trees is now more than five feet in diameter, according to Shepherdstown Community Club member Steve Wabnitz.

“It was once listed as the third largest in West Virginia, and if the concentric circles could be counted, they may tell us that it could have been here when the call came to form a first company of militia that marched to Cambridge to fight with George Washington in 1776,” Wabnitz said.

The fate of the park’s ash trees has been a concern for SCC members over the past seven years. The Shepherdstown Community Club, which owns and maintains the park, took steps to prevent the invasion of the emerald ash borer, which has been responsible for demolishing ash trees in the United States over the past decades.

“In the spring of 2014, local tree experts agreed that the ash borer had reached our grove, and the first treatments began,” Wabnitz said.

Wabnitz explained that treatments were applied not only in 2014, but also in 2016 and 2018. Scientific research has indicated the next treatment has been able to be delayed a year, to 2021, since arborist Shawn Walker with Trees 101 formerly reported no evidence of the emerald ash borer in any of the ash trees.

Walker, a forest therapy guide and certified arborist, has provided the treatments since they began, Wabnitz said. The process involves inserting a feeder tube into the base of each tree, allowing the treatment chemical to be absorbed by the tree. Each tree “drinks” for approximately 20 minutes, to consume the proper dosage of the treatment.

The cost of the chemical treatment is approximately $500 per gallon, with a total cost per treatment of all of the trees topping at a little more than $12,000.

Wabnitz commended community members and organizations, including the Cacapon Institute and the Eastern Panhandle Conservation District, for stepping up to fund the treatments since they began.

The SCC plans to begin the ash tree campaign anew, to replenish the $12,000 fund for the next treatment in 2024.

“Please know that donations are well spent to preserve one of the last groves of ash trees in North America,” Wabnitz said.

Community members and organizations can contribute to the fund by visiting www.shepherdstowncommunityclub.com or calling SCC President Jennifer Wabnitz at 304-995-6689.