BELCHERTOWN, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- Hundreds of trees in Belchertown have been marked as dead and hazardous and need to be removed.
The town is looking at more than a million dollars to remove the trees, but they simply cant afford it.
“We've been doing a survey about the hazard trees in our town and so far, after surveying 100 of our 130 road miles, there are 852 trees have died and have to be marked for removal," said Belchertown's conservation administrator Erica Cross.
Cross told Western Mass News they have 30 more miles to survey, so more trees could be deemed hazardous.
Three of those affected trees here on North Washington Street in Belchertown are within feet of each other and are a threat to the residents who live nearby and the motorists.
“If they were to fall, they can block roadways, damage cars and people driving by, take down utilities lines," Cross added.
However, what has caused these trees to die?
“In general, what has happened in the last seven to ten years, there’s been a few stressors, such as changes in precipitation that have really made the trees a lot more susceptible to damage,” Cross explained.
Rising groundwater due to excess rain over the years is one problem. Another is pests, such as the emerald ash borer and gypsy moths.
It might look like some of the trees are on private property, but they are actually 10 to 15 feet away from the street, which makes them public property. That’s why Belchertown wants to remove the trees to make less of an issue for the town, but also homeowners.
However, the cost of removing the trees could top $1 million.
In a statement, Steve Williams, the head of the Belchertown DPW, told Western Mass News they are doing all that they can to get funding from the state, but he said: “various state agencies are not willing to assist...the state feels these trees dying were a maintenance issue on us but that is not true.”
The timing of the removal will depend on money and if Belchertown is unable to receive outside support, the issue is theirs.
"This is a bill the town will have to foot and many other towns in western Mass. are going through the same thing," Cross said.
In the meantime, they are working on a plan to take down trees that pose an immediate public threat in heavily traveled areas.