Roosevelt Island closing for weeks for removal of diseased trees

WASHINGTON — Starting Monday, D.C.’s Roosevelt Island will temporarily close so crews can remove diseased trees infected with the emerald ash borer beetle, the National Park Service said Friday.

The work is expected to last as long as three weeks, but crews will work in sections, so parts of the 88-acre park will reopen sooner, the park service said.

The park service has hired contractors to augment park staff to complete the work more quickly.

Roosevelt Island’s parking lot, just off the George Washington Memorial Parkway, will remain open during the work, the park service said.

A recent survey turned up “extensive damage” from the invasive beetle species to trees along park trails.

“The pest is highly destructive, killing ash trees within two to three years once infected,” the agency said in a release. “Dead ash trees rapidly become dry, brittle and hazardous. There is no known cure; once a tree is infected, it will die.”

The park, which is popular with runners and cyclists, isn’t the only one that has been hard hit by the emerald ash borer invasion, park service said.

In some parts of the region, the number of white ash trees decreased by 25 percent between 2009 and 2016, because of the beetle infestation, according to the National Park Service.

Earlier this week, the park temporarily closed of anticipated strong thunderstorms since diseased or dead ash trees are at increased risk of falling during severe weather.

WTOP’s Michelle Basch contributed to this report. 

Hugh Garbrick

Hugh graduated from the University of Maryland’s journalism college in 2020. While studying, he interned at the Queen Anne & Magnolia News, a local paper in Seattle, and reported for the school’s Capital News Service. Hugh is a lifelong MoCo resident, and has listened to the local radio quite a bit.

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