In 2016, a gypsy moth infestation was discovered in the Ludlow Reservoir watershed forest, resulting in irreversible and eventually fatal damage to a large number of oak trees. In response, the Commission conducted forest management activities, including tree harvesting, within the Ludlow Reservoir watershed forest.
The last gypsy moth infestation at Ludlow Reservoir was in the 1980s. Gypsy moths prefer oak trees, a significant part of the forest cover in the Ludlow Reservoir watershed. In 2017 and 2018, the Commission’s consulting forester documented that trees affected by successive gypsy moth infestations did not regenerate with a second set of leaves, and reported that mortality of a large number of oak trees was imminent. (Read the forester’s report to the Commission.)
There is no known method to reverse gypsy moth damage. Tree harvesting commenced in the winter of 2019 and was completed by summer 2020. Tree harvesting served the following goals:
- To promote greater species diversity including trees and shrubs that need to grow in full sun
- To remove trees that pose a public safety hazard
- To capture timber value contained within trees fatally affected
Visitors to Ludlow Reservoir will notice the impacts of tree harvesting in some areas, and may also notice deceased oak trees that have been left in place to decompose naturally. Over time the impacts of the gypsy moth infestation will become less visible as the forest regenerates.