LANCASTER, Pa. (WHTM) – Nearly 200 trees in Lancaster County Central Park will be cut down starting this winter.

“We’re going to be taking down in the ballpark of 177,” said Paul Weiss, the parks and recreation administrator.

Weiss said it’s a sign the emerald ash borer is taking over.

“This is an epidemic in the country,” he said. “For all intents and purposes, these trees are already dead. They’re not going to survive. When the ash borer goes through, it kills every ash tree. It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when.”

The trees scheduled to meet the ax are near trails and playgrounds.

“If we allow them to decay naturally and fall, they would become hazards,” Weiss said.

Ben Tresselt, a board-certified master arborist with Arborist Enterprises, said the emerald ash borer has been found all over the Midstate.

“As an infestation gets larger, more insects, they’ll come down the tree,” he said. “Then you’ll actually see D-shaped holes, very small emergent holes.”

Tresselt said falling limbs are another sign a tree needs to come down. He said cutting down a tree can cost thousands of dollars, which is why he suggests homeowners look into prevention methods first.

“We can do a soil injection or trunk injection of an insecticide which is 99.9-percent effective,” he said.

Tresselt said the prevention methods can cost a couple hundred dollars.Get breaking news, weather and traffic on the go. Download our News App and our Weather App for your phone and tablet.