ash borer (copy)

Harrisonburg Parks and Recreation plans to replace every tree that will be removed from Westover Park. 

Harrisonburg’s Parks and Recreation and Public Works departments have begun removing 200 ash trees at Westover Park that have been infected with emerald ash borers, a species of beetles that feed on the inner bark of the trees, according to a news release. 

Once the trees are cut down, the department’s plan is to reutilize the trees through an environmental project at Purcell Park. A bioreactor — a device that uses wood chips to remove nitrates from water — will be installed at Purcell Park to filter run-off before it enters the park’s pond. 

While the current number of trees being removed at Westover sits at 200, an additional 470 are expected to be cut down in the near future. The city plans to use all the wood from the infected trees to support city projects. 

The bioreactor is expected to cut down on the growth of algae in Purcell Park’s pond, and removed trees will be replaced by a mix of trees at Westover. The city has already purchased approximately 500 native seedlings to be planted in the fall. Parks and Recreation plans to plant one tree for each removed. 

“While we are saddened by the loss of the trees and what that will mean for the beauty and environment of Westover Park, it is reassuring to know that this loss will support the health of Purcell Park and the area’s water quality,” Parks and Recreation Director Luanne Santangelo said.

The bioreactor project is being made through a partnership with Ridge to Reefs, and it’s expected to begin operation in early August. Westover will remain open during work, but visitors shouldn’t cross orange construction fencing or approach the equipment. 

Contact the news desk at breezenews@gmail.com. For more coverage of JMU and Harrisonburg news, follow the news desk on Twitter @BreezeNewsJMU.