The second of a four-phase project to rid Rocky Fork State Park of diseased ash trees was completed this week.
The first phase was completed a year ago, the second phase started Tuesday and was done by Friday afternoon, and the third and fourth phases will take place over the next two years.
Tammy Knisley, regional park manager for Rocky Fork, Paint Creek, Pike and Lake White state parks, estimated that 300 to 500 trees were taken down this week from the lake’s North Beach area to the Mountain View Colony area, and also at the park campground.
“They’re cutting down the ash trees because of disease. Some are dying or are already dead and they’re a danger,” Knisley said. “It’s only ash trees.”
The emerald ash borer, an ash tree killing insect from Asia that was first identified in Ohio in 2003, is what is killing the trees. And it’s not just at Rocky Fork. Knisley said ash trees are also being cut down at Stonelick, East Fork, Cowan Lake and Heston Woods state parks.
Kinsley said the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Forestry is cutting the trees down. She said it’s being done in four phases because the Division of Forestry is cutting ash trees all over the state and they can only do so much at a time.
She said letters were sent prior to the cutting time to homeowners in the areas where trees were being eliminated so they would know what was going on.
The wood from the trees in the campground and Blinko areas is open to the public to come and cut for firewood, Knisley said. But she said anyone wanting wood first needs to stop at the park office and get a wood collection permit.
Trees cut adjacent to the lake behind homeowner residences can be collected by the property owners for their personal use, as long as they get a permit first, Knisley said.
She said the cutting is complete for this year. She said that while some shade trees were eliminated in the campground, there is still plenty of shade, and the cutting should not interfere with the camping season.
“The camping area on top of the hill was closed until April 1 anyway and we will get everything cleaned up before the camping season starts,” Knisley said.
She said that anyone with further questions can call the park office at 937-393-4284.
Reach Jeff Gilliland at 937-402-2522 or on Twitter @13gillilandj.