Gurnee's village forester on Friday resumed leading crews in injecting chemicals into some public parkway trees in an effort to protect them from the deadly emerald ash borer for at least two years.
Village board trustees set aside $100,000 in the 2011-12 budget for the initial fight against the pest that invades and kills ash trees. The village has at least 3,347 public parkway ash trees and thousands more on private property.
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Forester Jake Balmes headed the team that injected the fast-acting insecticide in about 80 public ash trees in the Steeple Pointe subdivision near the Tri-State Tollway. A needle is used to inject the product, called TREE-age, into tree trunks.
"Right now, we're focused on saving everything we can save," Balmes said during the eight-hour job.
Illinois Department of Agriculture officials have determined the destructive metallic green beetle is in several Lake County communities. Some experts say tree removal is the only known method that works to get rid of the bug.
But Balmes has turned to using the insecticide that's supposed to protect infected ash trees from the ravenous pest for a minimum of two years. He said research shows the chemicals work on trees that have only moderate damage.
Insecticide treatments occurred earlier this week for about 80 ash trees at the Boulders and Spruce Pointe subdivisions, both on Gurnee's east side.
Millions of trees have been killed by the emerald ash borer in the Midwest. Confirmed in Gurnee in January, the beetle can be present for three or four years before it is noticed.
Balmes said the village may spend $30,000 on TREE-age this year, which includes equipment for the applications. He said the trunk injections will be handled by village public works employees who have been trained on how to use the insecticide.
Up to 40 trees infested with the emerald ash borer in the Pembrook subdivision north of Six Flags Great America likely will be chopped down and replaced because they are in such poor condition, Balmes said. Plans call for 1,200 public ash trees to receive the chemical treatment this year.
"If nothing else, we're buying more time for the tree-replacement process on our time, not the emerald ash borer's time," he said.
Removal and replacement of more than 3,300 village parkway ash trees could cost up to $1.5 million over 10 years, according to information presented to the Gurnee village board in April. Balmes said the village could stay under the estimate if the insecticide treatments work.
Elsewhere in Lake County, village of Vernon Hills crews have been removing infested trees instead of using an insecticide.
By contrast, the Vernon Hills Park District is in the second year of a chemical treatment program for 227 ash trees of eight inches or more in diameter to try and delay or halt the pest.