Ferguson Township's tree ordinance ordains policy on trees with infectious disease

Date: September 22, 2014

Our trees in Ferguson Township are protected by an ordinance adopted by the Board of Supervisors on August 18, 2014. Caring for them is a commitment the Township takes seriously by planting, maintaining and removing them as necessary to preserve the health of all trees in the Township.

As ordained by the new tree ordinance (click the document below), Ferguson Township established a Tree Commission that advises the Director of Public Works and Board of Supervisors on managing street, park and other public trees in the Township. 

Section 5 of the new ordinance outlines Ferguson Township's policy on hazardous and nuisance trees on public and private property. These include trees that may pose a risk to the public, to property such as vehicles or building structures, or to other trees. 

Trees afflicted by infectious disease or nuisance-type pests are a special concern because of the risk they pose to neighboring trees. These diseases may include Dutch elm, elm yellows, emerald ash borer, or oak wilt

Trees with oak wilt need to be removed before the growing season 

Oak wilt is a fungus that attacks the vascular system of an oak tree and is highly contagious. The leaves of an infected tree drop while still green. Oak wilt will defoliate an infected 80-foot red oak tree within 48 hours, and the tree can die within a few weeks to 2-3 years. 

Once a tree is infected, it needs to be cut down before the growing season starts, and trees within 100 feet of it need to be treated with a systemic root flare injection directly into their vascular systems, which literally stops oak wilt. 

Ian Groy, an arborist with Bartlett Tree Experts, advises homeowners who have oak trees to be aware of these preventive measures: 

  • Don't prune oak trees through the growing season. The only time to prune them is from mid-October through early March.
  • Never spike a tree to prune it. A spike driven into the tree's vascular system creates a wound that will leave it vulnerable to oak wilt, much as a bite to an apple will begin turning it brown.