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Public asked to comment on proposal to replace hundreds of trees near Gateway Arch

The National Park Service is bracing for the possible loss of more than 900 trees near the Gateway Arch. That’s what could happen if the emerald ash borer makes it to the St. Louis area.

The emerald ash borer has killed millions of ash trees since it was accidentally introduced to the U.S. in the early 1990s.

The small, bright green insect has already made its way to southeastern Missouri and northeastern Illinois.

Rob Lawrence, a forest entomologist with the Missouri Department of Conservation, says it’s just a matter of time until the emerald ash borer spreads to St. Louis.

“It moves on its own slowly, but the problem is that emerald ash borer hitchhikes on firewood real easily so when folks are moving firewood around, it can jump several states in just a matter of a few days.”

The superintendent of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, Tom Bradley, says the Park Service is seeking public input on a proposal for replacing the ash trees on the arch grounds.

"Ultimately we’d like to chose the species or cultivar that’s the replacement tree, and then decide how we’re going to take this on — replacing these 900 trees," Bradley said. "Are we going to do it all at once, or break it into zones? That’s just a big question."

The public has until August 24th to provide comments.

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