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Local News

Eastern Parkway to Close for Tree Removal

A two-block stretch of Eastern Parkway will be closed for several hours over the next few days.

Louisville Metro Parks crews are removing four pin oak trees that are reportedly diseased and damaged. The department will close Eastern Parkway between Baxter and Quadrant avenues from 9 am to 3 pm Tuesday through Thursday.

Traffic will be detoured one block north, to Edenside Avenue.

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Local News

Christmas Tree Recycling Open Next Week

Louisville Metro Government will continue grinding Christmas trees into mulch next week.

Mayor’s spokesperson Lindsay English says visitors to any of the city’s three tree recycling centers this week can take home the mulch made from their Christmas tree.

“If they don’t want the mulch, it just stays there and our Public Works crew works with our other departments and they are able to utilize that mulch in other areas around the city.”

English says the city collected six tons of mulch last year. The tree recycling centers will be open Monday through Wednesday, from 10 AM to 5 PM.

The locations are:

595 Hubbards Lane

617 Outer Loop

636 Meriwether Avenue

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Local News

New Wave Of Parkway Trees Being Planted

New TreesAnother wave of tree planting for Louisville’s Olmsted Parkways system is underway.

The Olmsted Parks Conservancy has donated funds for 319 new trees. The parkway system was originally designed to be lined with trees, but many have been lost to development and severe weather.

This round of tree-planting began on Algonquin Parkway, where conservancy president Mimi Zinniel says tree loss is noticeable.

“Typically, this would have two rows of trees as Olmstead had designed it,” she says of the corner near Algonquin Parkway and Third Street. “We don’t’ see the second row on this side, nor do we see even the first row on that side. So there are spots where it’s definitely not looking like a parkway, but the intent is to get it back to the original design.”

The conservancy has worked with Metro Government to plant 900 trees along parkways in the last three years. Zinniel says the planting of more trees will be put on hold briefly while other renovation work is done.

“We’re going to take a little breather right now—there’s a big master-plan that’s been developed to address all the parkways and to institute, over time, multi-use paths along the parkways. So that will kind of reconfigure some of the tree planting,” she says.

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Environment Local News

Firewood Likely Brought Ash Borer to KY

Kentucky officials are keeping an eye on the spread of the invasive emerald ash borer. This tiny pest has killed ash trees throughout the northeastern United States and was recently spotted in the Bluegrass state.  University of Kentucky entomologist Lee Townsend says humans are inadvertently spreading the borer when they transport firewood.

“This is a time of year people are going out on camping trips and fishing trips.  And it’s a good time that firewood containing the ash borer can be moved.  And that’s been one of the primary problems in having this insect jump several hundred miles at a time in its distribution,” says Townsend.

Townsend says that is likely the way in which the ash borer was able to cross into Kentucky from Indiana.  He says the impact of the infestation could be devastating for the state and especially for Louisville, where ash trees make up about 17 percent of the city’s tree population.

Note: Townsend says that concerned property owners can call their county extension agent’s office if they suspect an ash borer infestation.

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Local News

Forestry Division Completes First Tree Survey

The Kentucky Division of Forestry has completed its initial assessment of storm damage from the recent ice and wind storms, and private property owners could receive federal money for their damaged trees.

Most of Kentucky’s forests are on private land. If trees on that land were badly damaged in the storms, federal funds will be made available to prune or cut down the trees and to clean up the mess from fallen debris.

Division spokesperson Lynn Brammer says officials want the debris to be picked up soon because it increases the potential for forest fires.

“That’s our biggest concern, really, is that at this point all of the fallen debris will accumulate and dry out and add to the fuel load in the forest that could not only cause a wildfire but intensify one,” she says.

Brammer isn’t sure when the money for damaged trees will be available or how much will come to Kentucky.

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Blog Archive Environment Blog

Mourning Trees Lost Here and Abroad

Nearly every tree in the park next to my apartment building snapped in half in the ice storm. That means this spring and summer, when I’m hanging out in my study with a bay window right at canopy height, I won’t hear the rustle of leaves, or watch my cats cackling at all the birds that used to populate the branches. I’ll have to draw the blinds at night. But this is not as big of a deal as so many of the other losses people have faced, of course.

And it’s certainly not as big a deal as what indigenous peoples of the Amazon are facing. Deforestation rates have risen there, and so much of this living, breathing jungle has already disappeared. The Environmental News Service has this story about a recent protest and call to action to save the Amazon. More than a thousand people created a human banner, and this picture (courtesy of the Rain forest Action Network) shows their results.  It reads “Save the Amazon” in Portuguese.
This human banner says \"Save the Amazon\" in Portuguese.
I’ve been to the Amazon, sailed up a tributary in northeastern Ecuador. It’s the greenest place I’ve ever been, and loud with life. We need it, though, not simply for its beauty, or the home it provides to what indigenous groups remain, but for the carbon it stores (about 10% of the all the stores in the world’s ecosystems) and the biodiversity it hosts. Some sources predict that if deforestation continues at the current rate, in 20 years, about 40% of the Amazon will be lost.

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Local News

More Mulch? City Faces 2nd Round of Tree Debris

Parks crews are in emergency response mode: they’re helping road crews and electricity repair crews clear trees.  They haven’t even begun to address parks themselves, where trees also suffered lots of damage. Still, parks department spokesman Jerry Brown says it’s too soon to tell anything about how the parks will look once the debris is removed.

“The trees that are just simply bent over will recover, for the most part, although it’s very hard to evaluate initially because there are certain stresses and damage that occurs that may not be immediately visible,” says Brown.

Brown says parks crews will help take debris not only from parks but also from roads and parts of town to central areas for chipping and mulching.  Not that they need it: last September’s wind storm felled enough trees to keep the city in a steady supply of mulch for a long time to come.

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Local News

Windstorm-Felled Trees Could Invite Invasives in Parks

Listen to the story here.

The visible impacts of the storm are not hard to miss here in Iroquois park and other parks across the county. Officials say it will likely take months to clean up. In park woodlands, the debris can also pose dangers—overhead and under foot.

“Straight ahead you can see one of the things we’re having to deal with. That tree was snapped off, tremendous hazard tree right there, and it’s very tenuously balanced on the trunk,” Knox says.

That’s Bennett Knox, a natural resources manager for city parks. In Iroquois park, winds snapped giant, hundred-year-old trees in half and scattered branches across trails. Beyond the obvious danger from precarious branches, another, less visible danger could be lurking in the soil. Where the wind knocked down trees, it created openings in the tree canopy. Knox says plants and trees that love sunlight –some welcome, some not so welcome–could sprout up in those openings before replanting can begin.

“The longer term issue from an ecology standpoint is what that opening means and what we need to do to help it establish in the way we want it to establish, reestablish,” says Knox.

Knox says it could mean a fast growing but native tree called the tulip poplar could move in. But it could also mean invasive species like the bush honeysuckle will take advantage of the new clearing. And if that happens, the parks could face yet another long battle. Parks director Mike Heitz was with the department in 1974, when a tornado tore through town and practically balded Cherokee park.

“And with the winds that came through with the tornado, we think that’s when all the invasives were blown into the area. And because of the sunlight, they were able to take root and grow. So now we’re fighting with the invasives that are trying to choke out the plants that we planted in 1974 following the tornado,” Heitz says.

Heitz says they replanted following original designer Frederick Law Olmsted’s specifications.
“Basically now, we’re coming back to a point that the scar that was once there is pretty much gone, except for one thing and that’s the invasive species,” Heitz says.

More than 30 years later, full time park crews are still waging war against bush honeysuckle. Olmsted Parks Conservancy’s project manager Major Waltman says part of the reason is that this plant is very hardy.

”It is an absolutely great competitor for sunlight, for nutrients. It produces an abundant number of seeds,” says Waltman.

Birds happen to love it, and spread its seeds. And Waltman says that while bush honeysuckle seeds need sunlight to germinate, the full grown plant can thrive in shade. Now, it’s doing just that in Cherokee park, where the tree canopy has grown back. The problem is not just an aesthetic one. Bush honeysuckle may change the look of a landscape. But Waltman says it could also upset the unique bonds of biodiversity that have evolved in an ecosystem.

“You have insects, you have mammals, reptiles, amphibians, that evolved with local plants in their area. And when those plants are removed or no longer there because they’re out-competed by some plant that hasn’t been there very long…”says Waltman.

…It upsets their balance. And that’s true of any invasive species that decides to settle in. For now, parks employees haven’t even begun to assess all the damage. They’re still busy helping power company and public works officials disentangle branches and power lines. Meanwhile, invasive species won’t be waiting for permission to move in.

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Local News

Felled Trees in Parks Could Invite Invasives

Metro parks crews are busy helping the city clear streets of debris and trees after last Sunday’s windstorm.  Next, they’ll turn their attention to clearing park trails.  Giant felled trees have blocked many trails.  And partially felled trees pose dangers with fragile branches hanging overhead.  Felled trees have also created new openings in previously shaded areas.  Parks natural resources manager Bennett Knox says the priority, post-storm, will be making sure that no invasive species take root in the newly created sunny spots.

“The longer term issue from an ecology standpoint is what that opening means, and what we need to do to help it establish in the way we want it to establish, re-establish,” says Knox.

Knox says there are bright sides to the storm’s impact.  One is that tree species like tulip poplar are quick-growing and will likely fill in openings first.  The other is that downed trees can create new habitat for wildlife.

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Local News

Researchers Hunting For Emerald Ash Borer

Researchers from the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture are keeping a close eye on Northern Kentucky; they’re looking for the Emerald Ash Borer.

The Emerald Ash Borer is a small green beetle that comes from Asia. The insect is responsible for killing millions of ash trees in states such as Michigan and Pennsylvania, and have been moving south into Indiana and Ohio.

More than 3,000 traps have been set in Kentucky, mostly in the northern parts of the state. After checking 200 of them, researchers say they haven’t found any borers.

Senior nursery inspector Carl Harper says they will most likely find borers in Kentucky, but he’s not sure how much damage they can do since ash trees make up only about 8% of the state’s forests.

“Since it’s such a low percentage over all, I don’t know if it’d necessarily, unless it’s in a grove of ash trees or something, people would notice it that way,” says Harper. “But just a tree here and a tree there, I don’t think it would be as noticeable.”

Harper says cities are much more at risk, as ash trees are popular for urban landscaping