Port Orange, FL – A tiny beetle is the reason why big changes could happen to one of Volusia County’s largest public parks.
Spruce Creek Park will be closed for at least a week starting today to remove trees infested with the ips bark beetle. That park is located at 6250 South Ridgewood Avenue, close to the Port Orange-New Smyrna Beach border.
Parks & Recreation Culture Director Tim Baylie tells us that over 50 trees at the park already have the beetle gnawing away on the inside and the only way to prevent more infected trees is to take out the sick ones as soon as possible.
“We believe it stems back to Hurricane Irma, where salt water intrusion had caused the trees out there – the pine trees, predominately – to become stressed,” Baylie noted. “The beetle was able to enter into those pine trees and then start the process of killing a variety of trees out there.”
The park – which is located west of US 1 but is connected by water to the Halifax River – suffered extensive flooding during Irma, with the office on site flooded by several feet.
All the trees at the over 1,600 acre park will be checked for the beetle during the park closure and any infested ones will be taken out, according to Bailey.
“What we don’t want is [to leave] the bug out there and then it continues to eat the remaining trees and then we have to come back six months from now to take out more trees,” Baylie added.
Heavy equipment will be used to remove the infested trees, something the county calls a potential safety hazard to park users. That’s one of the biggest reasons why the park will be closed until the tree removal process is done.
Experts say the beetle can make infested trees unstable and prone to falling down, potentially injuring anyone nearby.
The total taxpayer cost for the contractor to knock down and remove the trees should be around $4,800 at most, per Baylie.