Mara and McRae Point Provincial Parks in Ontario (Canada) are currently facing the devastating impact of the invasive emerald ash borer (EAB).
As per a report, this wood-boring beetle has been identified as a major threat to the parks’ ash tree population, with up to 10,000 trees at risk of being lost.
The EAB was first discovered in Ontario in June 2002 and has since been responsible for the widespread destruction of ash trees across North America. Scott Thomas, the superintendent of both parks, has expressed serious concerns about the potential complete destruction of trees in these areas if the infestation is not adequately managed.
Ontario Parks has engaged a contractor to mitigate the risks associated with the EAB. The primary goal is to ensure the safety of the parks’ visitors and the preservation of the ecological integrity of the camping and day-use areas. This winter, efforts are focused on addressing the most critical situations posed by the infestation.
Approximately 10,000 trees in Mara and McRae Point Provincial Parks are affected by the EAB. These parks are not only popular summer destinations but also serve as year-round retreats for local residents. Bass Lake Provincial Park, another nearby park, has not yet been impacted by the EAB.
Thomas has highlighted the proactive steps being taken to manage the situation. The removal of infected trees is a key part of their strategy to prevent them from becoming hazards to the parks’ over 300 campsites and two-day use areas.
The removal of the White Ash trees will significantly alter the forest composition and the appearance of the parks, particularly in the campsites and day-use areas. Despite these changes, Thomas remains optimistic about the forest’s ability to recover and continue providing a safe and enjoyable environment for camping and day-use.
To ensure public safety and facilitate the work of forestry professionals, Ontario Parks will intermittently close sections of the parks, and sometimes the entire park. Visitors are advised to stay informed about these closures and adhere to the posted directions.
Signage, notices, and maps at park access points will inform the public about the ongoing situation and any associated restrictions. These will be updated as necessary, with work expected to continue until March 2024.
Forestry crews will be working up to seven days a week, alternating between Mara and McRae Point, using typical forestry equipment such as cranes, harvesters, loaders, bucket trucks, mulchers, and chippers.