NORWAY — The town of Norway has been awarded a Project Canopy grant that will address, in part, the estimated 5,000 or more ash trees that are in jeopardy of being wiped out by the emerald ash borer disease.

Tish Carr, Norway’s tree warden, said the grant will be used to develop an inventory to identify the number and location of ash trees and to develop a comprehensive plan to minimize the economic and aesthetic effects of Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) on the town.

“Given the rough estimates from the windshield survey (identification on the roadside) and the location of Norway to year round recreational venues, there is a high potential for Norway to be a ‘hot spot’ for the introduction of EAB,” Carr said in her application to the U.S. Forest Service, which funds the Project Canopy grants.

Project Canopy, a cooperative partnership between the Maine Forest Service and GrowSmart Maine, announced the recipients of the 2015 Project Canopy Assistance Grants late last month. There were 12 planning and education grants and seven tree planting and maintenance grants awarded, totaling $134,916. Norway, which has received Project Canopy grants in the past, received one of the of the planning grants.

The average grants range from $6,000 to $8,000 and require a 50-percent cost-share with cash or in-kind services. This year the USDA Forest Service said it has added the new grant category speicific to  targeting Emerald Ash Borer preparedness and planning, and management planning.

Carr has been warning Norway officials for months of the impending ash tree disease that is currently in Carroll County, New Hampshire, on the border of Oxford County. Cash, who met with selectmen last spring with Jeannie Federico of the Oxford County Soil and Water Conservation District, told the board that it was not a matter of “if” but “when” the disease will hit Maine.

More than 40 million ash trees have been killed since the disease was first discovered in 2002. It has reached parts of Massachusetts and New Hampshire and will infiltrate Maine, officials say.

Carr wrote in the grant application that Oxford County is in a unique situation because of its many campgrounds visited from people in places like New Hampshire and Massachusetts where ash trees have already been affected by the invasive emerald ash borer.

“Because of this, there is a high likelihood of invasive insects being brought into the town and having a huge impact on the town’s forest and community trees,” Carr wrote in the application.

Once the inventory is completed, a community action plan (CAP) will be developed to include proactive education, outreach and wood utilization for the town and its residents to help minimize the EAB impact on the community, said Carr in the report. The town and Carr will work with the Oxford County Soil and Water Conservation District and a local consulting arborist/forester to develop the plan and work with town officials and business leaders to implement it.

The group will also work with a University of Maine, Orono graduate student who has been studying/working with towns in New Hampshire and Massachusetts to look at the process used by community leaders in determining how to deal with it.

“This research and involvement with the Town of Norway could be an integral part of the proactive decision making process utilized to develop the plan, outreach and education materials to residents and non-residents as well as the proactive utilization of the final CAP plan,” she wrote in the report.

In May 2015, the pair told selectmen that they had done a quick estimate of ash trees and based on 1,700 trees on public roads, it would cost between $170,000 and $340,000 to remove them.

Norway has been a recipient of Project Canopy grants in the past and has been committed to planting trees where ones have been removed using the funding.

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