Beware of Dangerous Ash Trees

By Glen Wunderlich

It’s hard to estimate the number of ash trees killed by the emerald ash borer, but in Michigan alone, the total is in the millions. Firewood? Everyone now has ash. Its straight grain makes for easy splitting and its low moisture content means it can be burned for heat before other hardwoods. But, standing ash trees can also become dangerous shortly after they die and even the seasoned professionals must back off at times.

According to GregWeinert of Weinert’s Tree Service (989-729-TREE) all ash trees should be treated as dangerous. After a short wal kalong the Looking Glass River recently, it became evident what he was talking about. Some of the ash tress rolled over, stump and all.

Others had snapped off anywhere from ground level to 30 feet or more above ground.

Greg evaluates the dangerous aspect of felling ash trees on a case-by-case basis. He says, “You can’t tell if they’re good or not.




They may seem fine at ground level but can be bad 30 feet up.”


Rigging trees is away to fell them without heavy equipment but unless he knows for sure when thetree died, he avoids climbing. If thetree has been dead for more than two years, he relies upon a 58-foot boom truckfor safety, if he can get it to the tree. If the ash tree happens to be growing in low ground – like so many do –he won’t climb one that’s been dead for over a year. Even the roots can become sponge-like and canallow the tree to topple.

Greg goes on to saythat if you see black when felling an ash, you’ve found a particularly dangerous tree, because the conventional hinge will not hold. And, that means the tree can go anywhere.

If you spend anytime in the woods, learn to identify ash trees – even with the leaves off.

If you still have ash trees with leaves on them this spring, you may want to consider some proactive management, before it’s too late. The idea is to get the diseased trees to fall where they will do the least amount of damage.

Things are going to get worse – plenty worse – when a majority of the infected trees fall across our rivers, streams, roads, driveways and buildings. Hunters and other outdoor enthusiasts are urged to recognize and beware of ash-tree dangers. If you don’t know your trees, you’d better begin learning.

The emerald ash borer is one of the most destructive non-native insects in the United States; it and other wood-boring pests cause an estimated $3.5 billion in annua ldamages in the U.S. Since its detection 10 years ago, the borer and its relentless destruction have touched at least 14 states and parts of Canada and the tiny bug is on course to wipe out some 7.5billion ash trees in North America.

If you choose to harvest some of the choice hardwood, make sure to work in pairs. In the event of an emergency; doing so may save your life.