T yard picked for wood chipping

David Taber

FOREST HILLS—The MBTA’s Arborway Yard bus facility has been designated as the official wood-chipping site during an at-least two-year ban on transporting wood potentially infested by Asian Longhorn beetles (ALB) out of the area.

State Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) spokesperson Wendy Fox told the Gazette that the site—planned to abut the Arborway on the Washington Street side of the building at 500 the Arborway—will likely be up and running in two weeks. The bus yard is a sprawling complex at the corner of Washington Street and the Arborway on the Franklin Park side of the Forest Hills T Station.

The chipping site will be the drop-off point for wood being discarded by landscapers and contractors, Fox said. For organic matter being discarded by residents, the city is conducting separate leaf and yard waste pick-ups simultaneous with regular trash pick-ups. [See JP Agenda.]

Fox said the site will be active on Mondays, Wednesdays an Fridays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and efforts will be made to do most of the chipping during the middle of the day.

“DCR will work closely with [site] neighbors to minimize” disruptions, she said.

According to materials distributed at a Aug. 7 community tour of the site, “Actual grinding is estimated at less than two hours weekly.”

The site will be heavily fortified. “The wood-processing location will be enclosed by an eight-foot high fence. Noise mitigation [will] include an earth berm and sound blankets along the fence line,” the information sheet says. A berm is a low wall.

As the Gazette previously reported, on July 5 it was discovered that destructive ALBs had made homes in six trees on Faulkner Hospital’s campus at 1153 Centre St. That means there will be at least a two-year quarantine on moving dead wood out of a restricted area spanning an about mile-and-a-half radius around the hospital—including most of Jamaica Plain.

No new infestations by the beetle have been discovered in tree surveys conducted since July 5. If that trend continues for two years, the wood quarantine will be lifted, said Larry Hawkins, US Department of Agriculture (USDA) spokesperson for the joint city, state and federal ALB eradication program.

Tree surveys would continue for two years after that, and if no new infestations are discovered in four years, “We can declare eradication,” Hawkins said.

Andrea Howley, chair of the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council (JPNC), said community reaction was mixed to the announcement of the Arborway Yard chipping site location at the JPNC’s July 27 meeting.

“Some people did not have a problem. Some people were flipping out,” she said.

Howley said the JPNC strongly encouraged officials to keep the community up to date on the eradication effort.

Howley said she is personally pleased that the monitoring and eradication effort are moving so quickly. If ALB gets a foothold in JP, “This could be a humungous issue,” she said.

Hawkins said the site would be relocated if a planned redevelopment of the Arborway Yard moves forward in the coming years.

The ALB is a large black or iridescent-blue beetle with white spots and long antennae. The classic sign of ALB infestation in a tree is a perfectly round hole in the bark about the size of a pencil eraser. Other signs can include divots eaten into the bark, and piles of thin, mulch-like strands of wood material at the base of a tree.

Anyone who thinks they may have found evidence of ALB in a tree should call a state hotline at 866-702-9938.

For detailed information on ALB and the hunt, see the web sites MassNRC.org/pests/ALB and Beetlebusters.info.

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