Big move afoot to save Honeoye park

A mess now with mud, fallen trees and stacks of mamouth neon-coded logs, Sandy Bottom Park is on course to become a restored wetland recreation area free of a tree-killing beetle. The 114-acre park at the north end of Honeoye Lake is infested with emerald ash borer, an exotic invasive bug destroying ash trees nationwide.

Just recently, one big infested tree between a garage and ball field in the park collapsed — luckily away from the building and away from the field where the kids play. Safety is a major reason for the project managed in accordance with the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

During a walk in the park Monday, Richmond Town Supervisor Caroline Sauers showed the damage that has decimated the core of ash trees that make up the bulk of this wetland forest. With 70 to 80 percent of Sandy Bottom Park ash trees, it will take several years to complete the restoration that involves professionals and volunteers. But it will create a safe and habitat-friendly park, and one that will attract people across the region, Sauers said.

The logging operation underway now should be completed this spring. The stacks of marked logs will be hauled away, with most going intially to Pennsylvania and, from there, sold on the foreign market due to regulations and market demands, the supervisor said. Some logs are going for firewood.

A few of the healthier ash trees remain, having been inoculated against the ash borer. They are good shade trees, on the beach and over the shuffleboard court. Sandy Bottom Park offers a nature trail with boardwalk, foot path, snowmobile trail, ball fields and courts for shuffleboard and pickleball. The park will eventually have new signs with information about the history and wildlife of the park.

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