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City has plans for dead trees around Zindel Park

By WENDY STIVER

wstiver@lockhaven.com

LOCK HAVEN — Efforts are about to get underway to improve forest health and get rid of some dead trees around Zindel Park.

The small, beautiful park is within the lower Keller Reservoir area of the Lock Haven City Authority’s 5,200-acre watershed.

This is a highly utilized, “passive” recreational area, which once supported a high concentration of mature white ash trees. These trees recently were attacked and killed by the Emerald Ash Borer, an insect pest native to Asia.

A number of factors, including sensitive site conditions and bad weather patterns, have prevented the City Authority from salvaging the timber from these dead trees, according to a press release from City Hall.

Mike Wolf of Appalachian Forest Consultants, the City Authority’s forester, said, “We knew our window of opportunity to implement a carefully designed and controlled ash salvage would be narrow, and unfortunately, we were never able to strike when conditions were suitable. Now the economic value of the ash resource has been greatly diminished, as the integrity of the wood deteriorates rapidly.”

Dead trees are still standing in this section of the watershed.

To further complicate the situation, an extensive amount of non-native, invasive grass, shrubs and trees have moved in and are now well established in certain parts of this growing space.

“From an ecological and wildlife habitat perspective, this section of forest is on a negative trajectory,” stated Nature Conservancy forester Mike Eckley. “The mortality of more than 200 large, crowned ash trees is going to provide more available light and nutrients to the lower forest floor, and without an intervention, much of that will benefit the growth and expansion of undesirable plants.”

The City Authority is listening, and it is taking proactive steps to prevent this.

As a long-time participant in the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s Public Access Program, which designates the watershed open to hunting, the City Authority has been able to get financial support from a grant the Commission administers. The funds will be used to devise and pay for a new two-phased management strategy.

Mario Giazzon, wildlife biologist with the Game Commission, describes the project as “a solid one-two punch.”

It is geared to restart the forest’s under-story development by controlling invasive plants. To achieve this, a licensed vendor will selectively apply forestry-approved herbicides.

Shortly afterward, a contractor will cut down a high percentage of the dead ash trees that are near high-use trails. However, a number of these standing, dead ash trees will be left where they are to function as snag and den trees for wildlife.

Giazzon is the project administrator. He has carefully assessed and designated individual snags as reserves, in a variety of sizes. All of them are far enough away from high-use trails to minimize the hazard they might pose to visitors, yet still be of significant value to wildlife.

The Lock Haven City Authority Watershed is managed under a partnership with The Nature Conservancy. Through this partnership, the property has been enrolled in The Conservancy’s Working Woodlands program.

The partnership has also enabled the City Authority to become Forest Stewardship Council® Certified and provided access to a world-wide forest “carbon market.” Municipalities, businesses and industries can be required to buy “carbon credits” from places that are making a positive contribution to the environment. The City Authority is now able to “sell” carbon credits on this market and is seeing a financial benefit from it.

Overall, the authority’s forest management plan is designed to protect water quality, sustain a healthy forest, and promote ecosystem function and resilience.

For more information, visit the City Authority’s website: http://lockhavenpa.gov/government/cityauthority/forest/

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