As citizens are being vaccinated against COVID-19, ash trees in Buffalo's Olmsted Parks are being vaccinated against the emerald ash borer, a beetle that is lethal to most of the trees.
A decade ago, a survey of the Olmsted Parks system's 13,000 trees found 500 ash trees. Even then, the conservancy's tree experts knew the invasive ash borer was heading this way. The beetles put their larvae into the tree, with the bugs eventually killing the tree, somewhat similar to the forests of elm trees which died off in this area from Dutch Elm Disease.
But, there is an insecticide which can be injected into ash trees, to save the healthiest. Here, 200 of the 500.
Park Administration Director Greg Robinson said it's not easy but it saves some of the most visible trees in the park system.
“We've been inoculating the trees on a rotating cycle. Every two years, we have to go back and re-inject all the trees that are remaining. But, we've had a very good success rate with the trees that we have been treating,” he said. “Unfortunately, we were only able to do so many. This is a very expensive and time-consuming endeavor.”
Robinson said trees are important to the parks and to the city. They were part of Olmsted's original design and some are considered to have been planted as his design took shape and survives to this day.
In addition, they help clean the air for everyone. That's why some state money has been flowing here to cover the hundreds of dollars a new tree costs and the maintenance costs during the important early years, like keeping those green water bags filled, particularly in drought times like now.