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posted: 8/1/2010 12:01 AM

Ash borer leaving its mark on Geneva

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  • A sick pine tree sits along Bent Tree Drive in Geneva. The county has suffered a spate of diseased pine and ash trees.

      A sick pine tree sits along Bent Tree Drive in Geneva. The county has suffered a spate of diseased pine and ash trees.
    Rick West | Staff Photographer


If the communities that make up the Tri-Cities area used the term "tree-lined parkways" as part of a marketing pitch to lure new residents, they'd certainly be telling the truth. But they'd have to admit that some of those trees may not be around for long.

It's been reported by city officials that more than 11,000 trees are planted along Geneva's parkways alone.

Ash trees account for about 2,200 of that number. Just from glancing at the parkways when driving around Geneva, it appears that some are dying - and the No. 1 suspect has to be the emerald ash borer.

Public works director Dan Dinges confirmed the city's growing problem, saying his staff is getting "a lot of calls and virtually every tree we check is affected by the emerald ash borer."

Even though arborists are saying that treatments to protect an ash tree are on the rise and some are proving to be effective, trees that are fully infected are obviously in serious trouble.

City forestry crews are taking down trees and replanting as time and manpower allow. Hopefully, we won't see entire parkways devastated by a bug. Most cities have incorporated tree-planting scenarios that implement several different trees. The lessons learned from Dutch elm disease many years ago tell us you don't want to see all of your trees wiped out by a single problem.

Luckily, at least for now, it does not appear any of our other trees are facing a serious foe in the form of a bug or beetle.

"I know there is a bark beetle attacking pine trees in some other parts of the country, but we are not seeing it here yet," Dinges said.

Those who make a living at planting and nurturing trees confirm that the area's pine trees are not facing an epidemic, but point out that there are numerous different pine trees, all of which are attractive to different types of insects or diseases.

In many cases, bugs aren't the culprits at all in trees that look as if they are hanging by a thread. It could be just normal summer shedding or they were originally planted in a bad location.

To eliminate the mystery when you suspect your trees are ailing, it's best to contact experts who know what they are looking at when examining a distressed tree.

While many travelers marvel at the large buildings and thousands of lights they see when flying into Chicago's O'Hare Airport, I continue to be amazed by the thousands of trees that fill the city and its suburbs.

You hate to see any of them fall victim to a serious disease, so keep an eye on the trees and seek the advice of an expert.

Bob and his river: Bob Leonard never really stopped working to improve the river corridor in St. Charles, so his friends and others who appreciated his efforts before his passing are going to keep walking.

Those interested in running can also admire the work that has been done along the Fox River on behalf of Leonard and others involved in the St. Charles River Corridor Project because registration is in full swing for the fourth Bob Leonard 5K Run and Walk-a-Thon to be held Saturday.

This is an excellent hike through parts of downtown St. Charles and, of course, the paths along the river and into Mount St. Mary Park.

Online registration is available at or entry forms can be downloaded from

Runners take off at 8 a.m. from Pottawatomie Park toward Timber Trails Park, and walkers start at 9:30 a.m. and make their loop through Mount St. Mary.

Veterans of this event, and those who walk around the area often, know what a pleasant run or stroll this is. I would encourage those new to the area to take part and get a closer look at some of the finer spots in St. Charles, and learn about the River Corridor Foundation and its projects.

Runners will love it: Having walked what seems like every square mile of every path in the Tri-Cities area in the past 30 years, I can let the marathon runners from other states coming in for the Fox Valley Marathon in September know they are going to enjoy it.

In case you haven't heard, Dick Pond Athletics is hosting the first Fox Valley Marathon on Sept. 19 and runners are signing up for a full marathon, half marathon or a 20-miler in what is being advertised as a nice tuneup for the Chicago Marathon later in the fall.

The events start and end in downtown St. Charles and will cruise through Geneva and Batavia as well.

Dick Pond Athletics was a sponsor of the 1-mile race in downtown St. Charles on Memorial Day, and has plenty of experience in staging these marathon events.

Mark the calendar: For those who like to mark the calendars on their walls or in their computers and phones, Saturday, Aug. 28 is an important date if you want to support the Paul Ruby Foundation for Parkinson's disease research.

The fourth annual Concert for a Cure will be held that day at Tanna Farms Golf Club in Geneva.

Those who have attended in the past know that this is full day of food and music, and interesting auction items.

A news release from the foundation noted that more than 1,200 people attended last year and the event raised $52,000.

Paul Ruby, the general manager of the Herrington Inn who is a Parkinson's patient and founder of the Paul Ruby Foundation, said if this year's event can match last year's numbers, it would mean the foundation has raised a quarter-million dollars for Parkinson's research.