ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) – The National Parks Service will remove 1,200 trees from the Arch grounds starting Friday.
The National Park Service says 1,200 of the 1,800 trees currently on the Arch grounds will be removed because about 800 of them are expected to die due to an invasive beetle. The beetle, called the Emerald Ash Borer, destroys Ash Trees and could make them dangerous for visitors.
“Well we could just wait but the problem becomes the way the Ash Borer works is it attacks the upper limbs of the tree first,” Bob Moore, with the National Park Service, said. “Once it starts to work, those limbs start to become weakened so they become a safety hazard for the people just walking around the grounds.”
Moore says the NPS is aware some people are not happy about the decision to remove the trees. He says several factors were considered.
“There’s a lot of things happening behind the scenes that people don’t realize. One of them is the ash boar pest, another is the conditions on the arch grounds have been abysmal for trying to grow trees for well over 30 years. And these trees have reached the end of their useful life cycle. Within about 5 years we’d have to take them out and replant them anyway.”
Ryan McClure, with City Arch River, said the trees that are removed will be ground down into wood chips by an eco-friendly company. He says this is a cost-effective way to reuse the trees.
“The wood chips from the grinding of the trees will be hauled back to the company’s facility in the St. Louis region, where they will be ground again using smaller screens,” McClure said. “The wood chips will then by screened with the larger pieces being used for a mulch product, and the smaller wood fines will be put into their composting operations.”
As part of the Arch Renovation Project more than 4,100 trees are expected to be planted in the spring of 2016.
The 63-story Gateway Arch was completed 49 years ago on Tuesday, Oct. 28. 1965.