Ash trees in Ogdensburg, New York, are being culled and used as biomass in order to mitigate a public safety hazard. The issue is intrinsically linked with a pest called the “Emerald Ash Borer,” which has been identified in neighboring counties. Ash Borer beetles kill infested trees, so a Borer population in Ogdensburg would mean hundreds of dead ash trees around city streets, posing a serious hazard to pedestrians.
The director of Public Works in Ogdensburg, Scott A. Thornhill, explained, “The trees will be cut down by the city or a contractor and added to our green waste pile, which is processed-chipped about once a year for biomass.”
After the ash trees are broken into wood chips, they will be transported to Fort Drum, a nearby Army post where a ReEnergy biomass-electricity plant will generate electricity using the city’s ash chips as fuel. The ReEnergy plant has been operational since 2012, when it took over a former coal-fired plant.
It is estimated that it will take 3-5 years to take down the 170 city ash trees that have been identified as particularly hazardous in case of an Emerald Ash Borer beetle infestation (i.e., “in the city rights-of-way, between the streets and the sidewalks,” etc.).
By culling ash trees, Ogdensburg is not only helping to protect its residents from potential injury and home/car damage, but also generating clean energy and fueling local industry.
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