It was determined last month that Elmhurst has not escaped the emerald ash borer infestation identified in Illinois more than five years ago.
No effective chemical or biological treatments exist that are appropriate on a large scale, according to a statement released by the city on Thursday.
City staff have created a plan to prepare the community for the economic and environmental impact of removing and replacing about 2,300 ash trees, or about 10 percent of the city’s trees.
"While the realities are discouraging, Elmhurst’s sound tree planting policies over the years have resulted in a great deal of diversification in tree variety," according to a press release from the city. "In some communities, ash trees comprise as much as 30 percent of the overall tree population.
"The obvious economic impacts of removing and replacing so many trees will be compounded by other less visible costs, including loss of shade, water, air purification, beauty, wildlife habitat, infrastructure value and property value."
In 2009, the city put a plan in place that follows recommendations from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Illinois Department of Agriculture and the Morton Arboretum. The city will remove and replace 115 Ash trees each year for the next 20 years, or until mass removal of dead and dying trees becomes necessary due to safety and liability issues. This plan will allow the city to spread out the cost over a longer period of time and reduce the number of trees replaced in any given year.
In addition, the city’s tree canopy will be replaced earlier by removing and replacing trees in marginal condition more quickly, according to the press release.
"Delaying the process could very well result in the city having to work in crisis mode when it becomes necessary to remove a large number of dead and dying trees," the release said.
This destructive pest, native to Asia, attacks ash trees of all types, eventually killing them. The adult emerald ash borer emerges between May and July, and the female lays numerous eggs in the tree’s bark. The eggs hatch into larvae that bore into the tree and chew the inner bark and phloem, creating winding galleries that cut off the flow of water and nutrients.
For more information regarding the Emerald Ash Borer and its spread in Illinois, please visit www.illinoiseab.com.