Civil War battlefield restoration effort accelerated due to emerald ash borer

Infected Ash Tree - 3WThe restoration of the Third Winchester battlefield is the largest such project in the history of the Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation (SVBF.)  The organization’s multi-year effort now has the additional purpose of combating the damage being done by an emerald ash borer infestation. The invasive species of insect continues to wreak havoc on local ash trees in the Frederick County area. As a result the SVBF has prioritized the removal of the ash trees near the historic middle field in the second phase of the overall landscape restoration project.

SVBF Resource Management Specialist Dan Reinhart elaborated on the issue by stating “These trees were not present at the time of the battle and were scheduled to be removed as we restored the battlefield.  But as we have seen the emerald ash borer continue to effect ash trees at the site and the potential for them to spread to surrounding areas, we decided to expedite this phase of the restoration plan to address this issue.”  Reinhart continued by saying “More importantly, we are concerned that as additional trees continue to be effected that it would become a safety risk to our visitors on the battlefield.”

The SVBF plans to use the wood that is salvageable to build additional fencing while also offsetting the costs of the project by selling some of the lumber from the downed trees. “Through working with our resource management partners, we have determined that $20,000 can be saved by removing the trees now” stated Reinhart. “Whereas once the ash borer has spread, the SVBF would still need to remove the trees but would not be able to benefit from the sale of the healthy lumber.”

The project is slated to begin in January and should be completed within a three month time period. Portions of trails leading to the work site will be closed at various times for safety purposes.  SVBF CEO, Keven Walker ensured that best management practices will be a priority. “A concerted effort will be made to ensure the protection of historical resources while also allowing for limited interruption of the visitor experience at the site. The long term vision for this battlefield is one that our organization is excited for and when all is said and done, it will be a shining example of a community resource and a pristinely preserved battlefield park.”

[Attached images: Portion of tree line to be removed. Close up image of infested ash tree.  George Gillespie map of the Third Battle of Winchester, containing original tree line (credit Library of Congress).]

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