Gurnee may have to spend up to $1.5 million over 10 years to fight a pest that invades and kills ash trees.
Village Forester Jake Balmes gave a presentation and recommendations on fighting the emerald ash borer at a meeting Monday night. He told Gurnee trustees and Mayor Kristina Kovarik the village has at least 3,347 public parkway ash trees and thousands more on private property.
Balmes said the emerald ash borer was confirmed in Gurnee in early January. He said a plan for removal and replacement program is necessary because too many dead ash trees would pose a safety risk.
"Without action, we can assure every ash tree standing in our community is dead," Balmes told the village board at the nonvoting committee meeting.
Illinois Department of Agriculture officials have determined the destructive metallic green beetle is in several Lake County communities. Experts say tree removal is the only known method that works to get rid of the emerald ash borer.
Millions of trees have been killed by the beetle in the Midwest. It can be present for three or four years before it is noticed.
Balmes said cost considerations played into his recommendation to pursue an ash tree removal program over 10 years for an estimated $1.5 million instead of a more-aggressive five years. Another species of tree would be planted to replace the removed ash trees.
"We'll take a beating no matter which action we take," Balmes said. "There's no way around that."
Elsewhere in Lake County, Vernon Hills already has started removing infested trees. Vernon Hills has about 3,600 ash trees, or a third of its inventory, in the public right-of-way.
Balmes said Gurnee's Kingsport Woods subdivision is the most vulnerable with 59 percent of public parkway trees being ash. The Westgate subdivision has 57 percent ash, followed by Steeple Point at 49 percent.
Gurnee has set aside $100,000 in the 2011-12 budget to fight the emerald ash borer in the public parkways. As in other towns, private property owners in Gurnee will be responsible for costs to remove infested ash trees.