Park Forest to Lose 20% of Trees to Emerald Ash Borer

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The Emerald Ash Borer may already be in Park Forest. (Photo: David Cappaert, Michigan State University)

Total Does Not Include Trees on Private Property

Park Forest, IL—(ENEWSPF)— Last summer’s brief visit by cicadas will be nothing compared to the imminent arrival of the Emerald Ash Borer. The beetles may already be here, and its arrival means the eventual loss of every ash tree in town. Superintendent of Parks Rob Gunther gave the sobering news to the Village Board at Saturday’s all-day Strategic Planning session.

The Illinois Department of Agriculture’s Emerald Ash Borer web page says the beetle has been in the state about a year-and-a-half, “On June 9, 2006, two ash trees in The WINDINGS subdivision, near Lilly Lake in Kane County Illinois were positively identified as being infested with the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB).”

According to EmeraldAshBorer.info , the beetle can have a one- or two-year life cycle. Infested ash trees don’t stand a chance:

The canopy of infested trees begins to thin above infested portions of the trunk and major branches because the borer destroys the water and nutrient conducting tissues under the bark. Heavily infested trees exhibit canopy die-back usually starting at the top of the tree. One-third to one-half of the branches may die in one year. Most of the canopy will be dead within 2 years of when symptoms are first observed.

Parks Superintendent Rob Gunther says the infestation of the beetle appears to be about 5 years old, and the beetle is reproducing quickly, “They find an infestation and the spread seems to be exponential, partly because of the ways the insect reproduces. In the next year, they anticipate that the spread of the insect in the United States or North America will be larger than its native spread in China. It’s really moving."

Gunther says the beetle seems to attack stressed trees first, and eradication of the beetle is not possible, and the best the Village can hope to do is manage the infestation.

The Recreation and Parks Department has inventoried 5,834 trees on public land in the Village of Park Forest. Of these, 1,008 are ash trees, about 19% of the total. The average cost to remove a 17” tree is $304.00. According to a report prepared by the department, assuming a total of 8,000 to 10,000 trees on public land in Park Forest, ash trees would account for roughly 20% of the total.

Using these numbers at today’s costs, removing all ash trees will be between $450,000 and $600,000. Replacement is beteen $300,000 and $500,000, putting the total cost to the Village for the infestation somewhere between $750,000 and $1.1 million.

Gunther says the only option is to remove infested trees.

The impact on residents may be even more costly. The Recreation and Parks Department estimates that the number of private trees may be six times higher than public trees. The cost to remove a private tree is usually much higher, depending on the location of the tree. Removal of an ash tree from a backyard could cost between $1,000 and $2,000, and there may be residents with more than one ash tree.

Recreation and Parks is recommending the addition of separate budget item in Park Forest to deal with the Emerald Ash Borer infestation.

Sources: EmeraldAshBorer.info, http://www.agr.state.il.us/eab/