More than 50 dead trees in Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park are coming down and being ground into mulch on Monday to help stop the spread of pests, park officials say.
Park employees as well as some contracted arborists are set to remove the trees as part of a suppression effort to inhibit the further spreading of the southern pine beetle.
The beetle feeds on all species of pine trees and is considered to be one of the most destructive forest pests in the United States, with trees typically dying within months of infestation, according to the National Park Service.
The trees being torn down in the park are not near any active trails, or any other portion of the park that visitors may occupy, per the park service. Park officials say there will be no impact to regular activities or visitor safety during the removal process.
Following the cutting down and mulching of the trees, the impacted areas will have new ones replanted that are not vulnerable to similar infestation.
Those include red and white oak trees as well as swamp chestnuts, with the cost totaling $755 for 1,000 trees, according to the Raymond Hamel, the park’s chief of interpretation. The entire process can take up to 30 days, though Hamel said it may finish ahead of schedule.
“The 30 days was to be on the safe side,” said Hamel. “We do not want to rush this and potentially miss infected trees.”
Patrick Gamman, park superintendent, said his team was fortunate enough to discover the infestation before it had the chance to become widespread.
“While we never like to remove trees from the park, this effort is necessary to ensure the health and longevity of the resource,” Gamman said. “We will continue to be vigilant for signs of further infestation throughout the park.”