Halton Parks EAB

Halton Parks Management of Emerald Ash Borer

Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) is an invasive non-native insect found across North America, which is a threat to ash trees. EAB first appeared in Canada in southwestern Ontario in the early 2000’s, was confirmed present in Oakville in 2008 and has now spread throughout much of Ontario and Quebec.

EAB has been detected in ash trees on lands managed by Conservation Halton including our seven conservation areas and we are now taking steps to address it. Conservation Halton has more than 1,000,000 ash trees on its property out of approximately 11,000,000 trees in total; EAB will result in the death of more than 98% of these trees. Our primary concern is ensuring trees which could fall on trails, buildings, or parking lots – places where people use our property – are managed to minimize any risk. We will aim at the same time to try to prevent disruption to our park activities. While we estimate that this is a far smaller number than our total number of ash trees, it is still in the area of 50,000 to 100,000 trees.

Because of this risk, Conservation Halton is proactively addressing EAB on its lands. Once a tree is infected with EAB it usually dies within 24 to 36 months and can, in intense infestations, die in less than a year. Trees are phenomenal feats of nature’s engineering and so a dead tree can stay standing for many years after it has died and, provide a very valuable habitat for a large number of species as standing deadwood in the forest. After they fall, the wood lying on the forest floor provides an equally valuable habitat for another wide range of species that help recycle the trees nutrients back into the soil.

Trees that are dead are more susceptible to fall; either dropping branches or falling entirely, and while this process may take years to happen after a tree has died, it could happen sooner in stormy conditions or if the tree has rotted more quickly. It is much safer and easier to remove trees when they are still alive, or are only very recently dead. The longer you wait after a tree dies, it is more difficult, expensive, and less safe to remove it, and the more likely it is to fail.

Conservation Halton is addressing this challenge by removing the hazardous dead trees:

Removal:  Whenever there is concern that a tree that is dead or dying from EAB could pose risk to a visitor, building or trail, that tree will be removed. This work began in 2015 and based on the scale of the work involved and the number of trees to be removed, this work has been estimated to take more than ten years to complete. Since we are targeting trees that pose a risk to people, the impacts of this work will likely be visible to you as a visitor. In some places, where there are a large number of ash to be removed, the tree canopy will be more open, the forest will have more light and there might be logs on the ground. Sometimes, we will need to close sections of trail, or whole trails, for the purpose of removing hazardous ash trees, so we appreciate your patience and understanding. In these cases, signs will be posted in the areas where forestry staff are working and service disruptions will be shared on our website. As a visitor, you can help us work safely by avoiding trails which are closed. If you see or hear staff working, please take care, follow their guidance and stay away from work areas.

Status of Ash Tree Removal in Halton Parks

Since 2017, over 23,000 hazard trees have been removed across our properties.

In 2021, staff continue to identify and remove hazard trees at Hilton Falls and are nearing completion with only the bike trails at the back of the park remaining. Staff are actively removing the last of the hazard trees at Crawford Lake, Rattlesnake Point and Kelso Conservation Areas and hope to have these parks finished by the end of 2021.

Help Protect Our Forests

The movement of firewood poses a substantial risk to Canada’s economy and environment. Transporting firewood may seem harmless but can lead to the spread of pests such as insects, plants and diseases. A mass infestation of an invasive species can limit your ability to enjoy the environment around you and negatively affect the property value of your home.

Refrain from moving any firewood to prevent the spread of pests. Moving untreated firewood, even if it is just a few kilometers to or from a campground or cottage, can spread invasive species and diseases.

Buy Local. Burn Local.