Invasive bug closing Roosevelt Island coming to a park near you

Invasive bug closing Roosevelt Island coming to a park near you (Nathan Baca/ABC7)

The National Park Service began cutting down more than 200 trees in the Theodore Roosevelt Island National Park Monday.

The trees are infected by the Emerald Ash Borer, an insect native to East Asia. Once infected, a tree has a near 100 percent death rate. The National Park Service expects the park to be closed for three weeks.

“I had no idea it was closed. Whenever I have a chance and I’m down here for work, I like to put on my running clothes and take a little jog,” said Chuck Potter. “You're in the middle of the city but you feel that you're out in the middle of nowhere.”

Kathy Spiro has lived in Bethesda since 1988.

“I've never been here to Theodore Roosevelt Island," Spiro said. “We've just driven past it and seen the sign and I wanted - today we just had a free day and we were finally going to see what was on the island.”

“I feel really sad for the trees,” added Spiro.

The National Park Service reports that Rock Creek, Great Falls and B&O Canal parks also have trees infected by the Ash Borer. Crews will not be cutting down trees in non-marked trails, making hiking in unmarked trails hazardous for falling branches from dead trees.

“It's very important to stick to the marked trails. The 200 trees we're removing, they're all along the marked and maintained trails, so we're highly encouraging visitors to stay to those maintained trails,” said Aaron LaRocca with the National Park Service.

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