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Things aren’t as bad as they look in Elmira woodlot, says township

Resembling a miniature logging operation, work at an Elmira woodlot isn’t what it seems, says Woolwich’s environmental coordinator.

It may look messy, but the project visible from Whippoorwill Drive is simply an expanded version of clearing out deadwood, particularly ash trees, said Ann Roberts.

Dying ash trees are at the root of culling underway at Elmira woodlot. [Joe Merlihan / The Observer]
While the township usually employs a cut-and-drop approach, leaving the trees to decompose on the forest floor, there are too many trees in this case, she explained. The contractor is taking the cut trees for lumber or firewood, paying the township for the usable wood, which will offset some of the costs involved.

While it looks “pretty messy” out there just now, she said, new growth is expected to take hold in a year or two, according to an assessment provided by Region of Waterloo forester and planner Albert Hovingh, who’s been assisting the township with the project.

“It will allow new growth to come in,” said Roberts, noting the contractor is doing the work slowly to minimize the impact on the woodlot. “It is being done in a very careful way.”

Along with natural regrowth, the township will look at doing some planting in the newly cleared areas along the roadway, introducing more diversity into the mix.

In the interior of the woodlot, nature will be left to take its course, said Hovingh.

“We’ll just leave that – you’d be surprised by how quickly that will fill in. That will come in pretty thick.”

The arrangement with the contractor seems to be working well, added Roberts.

“It will reduce the costs and make good use of the wood.”

“We’ve done this in a number of other places as well, and it really works out,” said Hovingh.

Roberts said the cleanup is likely to be finished by summer’s end, with the contractor taking “time and care” to get the job done right. The final numbers will be tallied up at completion.

Other projects are also in the works.

“We’re hoping to do similar work in Maryhill Park,” she said, noting the cleanup efforts should get underway this week or next.

The township has been dealing with the removal of ash trees for years, most visibly in downtown Elmira, due to the invasion of the emerald ash borer. In this instance, the ash trees that appear healthy are being left in the woodlot.

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