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updated: 5/17/2011 5:58 PM

Lake Zurich readies plan to fight the ash borer

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By Abby Scalf

Lake Zurich staff will begin to inspect and remove village-owned ash trees infected by the emerald ash borer to try to control the spread of the insect.

"The village will survey all ash trees to see how bad the infestation is, and then where we go from there is there may be a mess of trees that may have to be taken out," village arborist Shawn Walkington told trustees Monday night.

The beetle was found in Lake Zurich earlier this year, officials said. Since then, Walkington and the tree commission developed a management plan to control the spread of the invasive insect.

The first step will be to inspect all 3,000 ash trees on parkways and village-owned property. The village will remove trees that show 30 percent or more damage. Walkington said trees will be replanted in spring and October or November.

The village also plans to implement a proactive plan to remove and replace about 300 trees per year in the next 10 years.

Lake County arborist Scott Garrison said in the Manor subdivision where he lives, 25 to 30 trees show signs of infestation. Because it may be three to five years before the tree shows damage, Walkington's plan to control the insect is a viable choice, Garrison said.

"When they die they become very brittle very quick. And if those trees are on your parkway and they start falling and doing damage, that would be a concern," he added.

The village will need to designate funds in the budget to remove and replace trees, officials said. Typically, a new 3-inch tree will cost about $300 each. Replacing 300 trees each year will cost the village $90,000, officials said.

While the plan suggests the option to develop a pesticide treatment program for ash trees in good condition, Garrison said companies that produce these chemicals cannot guarantee success. There also is a problem with liability.

David Heyden, director of public works said the village hopes to obtain grant funds next year to help address costs to replace trees on village property.

A further complex issue will be dealing with how to address trees on private property that may need to be removed. Village administrator Bob Vitas said as the village goes forward, the tree commission needs to develop an operational plan to be tailored to every neighborhood and every street.