Harper axes Ash

Councilman Mitch Harper.  Courtesy photo.

News release from the Fort Wayne City Council:

Harper Axes Ash
Amends list of acceptable trees for park strips

(August 5, 2011) – City Council president, Mitch Harper next Tuesday will introduce a Bill amending Chapter 99 of the city code regarding the types of trees that are acceptable for street planting.

City arborist, Chad Tinkel, came before the council last Tuesday with photographs and numbers showing the devastation to the city’s ash tree population caused by the Emerald Ash Borer. Because there is a high percentage of the ash tree in the city’s tree canopy, the loss of these trees is being seen now and will continue to cause large pockets of desolation as the dead and dying trees are cut down—a scenario to be played out through the entire city over the next few years.

Based on the information received at the meeting, Harper told the Parks and Recreation management team that he would immediately amend the chapter to eliminate the white ash from code. He also proposes to eliminate the ailanthus, aka tree of heaven.

“Until such time plant biologist develop a resistant tree to the ash borer, the white ash should not be found in city law as a permitted street tree”, Harper said.

Harper is an advocate of the elm tree. While many may recall the horrors of the Dutch elm disease that wiped out the population of elm trees that graced historic neighborhoods several decades ago, there are now disease resistant elm varieties. On a more positive note, the amendment adds as acceptable street trees the American elm–Princeton American elm, Valley Forge American elm, and New Harmony American elm. He has also added numerous varieties of trees to encourage diversity in the city’s valued tree canopy. In the Aboite Trails Park one will find an elm tree planted by president Harper.

After introduction next Tuesday, the Bill should be up for discussion on August 16th.

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