December 7, 2019

Diseased beech trees removed from county fairgrounds

No cost levied against the county


OSCODA COUNTY — Beech trees at the county fairgrounds are infected with a disease that could cause them to become a hazard for residents walking by.

This information surfaced at the May 14 county commissioners meeting when former district forester for the county, Lora Freer, approached the commissioners with an opportunity to have the infected trees removed at no cost to the county. She said the trees are infected with Beech Bark disease, which can be dangerous if left unchecked.

“Initially an insect makes wounds in the bark of a tree, then a fungus grows in the wounds under the bark rotting the tree from the inside,” Freer said. “Typically with very tall trees, like at your fairgrounds, what happens is the trees will snap near the tops, in even minor winds.”

Freer said at least a quarter of the beech trees at the fairgrounds are infected with the disease. She said she’s been aware of the fact that some trees at the fairgrounds were infected with the disease years ago, however, nothing has been done to rectify the situation.

“When the fair board was still together, they asked me to label potentially hazardous trees,” Freer said. “They couldn’t take care of it because it was too much. The scary thing is the trees labeled back then are still up.”

Chairman Kyle Yoder said he is under the impression that if the trees are dangerous, they need to be dealt with.

“If we marked these as hazard trees, and they are still standing a couple decades later, I think we need to take care of that.” Yoder said.

Freer said the goal is to have professional loggers she’s been in contact with take the trees down at no cost to the county. The trees will then be moved by members of the AuSable Valley Engine and Tractor club. Once brought down and moved the county commissioners will then decide what exactly to do with the lumber. Freer said she does not believe it would be enough wood to be worth selling to a lumber yard, however, a professional wood cutter may be able to make use of the material.


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