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updated: 6/18/2011 5:16 PM

Aurora removes 300 infested ash trees

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Aurora has removed about 300 trees infested with the emerald ash borer so far this year, including 67 on East New York Street near Westfield Fox Valley Shopping Mall, city officials said Friday.

Although chemical treatments for affected ash trees are available, Aurora officials decided against using them because they are not 100 percent effective and can become costly if the infestation spreads.

Instead, the city opted to remove affected trees and plant new ones of different varieties, according to Forestry Supervisor William Pauley.

"We are working to diversify our urban forest, which is the best way to prevent large losses in the future," said Pauley, an arborist certified by the International Society of Arboriculture.

Aurora's response to emerald ash borers is partially funded by a $40,000 federal grant received by 58 communities through a program run by the Morton Arboretum and the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus. The arboretum is assisting grant recipients with acquiring new trees to replace those killed or threatened by the beetle, according to an Aurora news release.

The bug has been noticed in Aurora trees since 2008, but it has been most prevalent on the city's far east side and in other neighborhoods built since the 1970s.

Signs of emerald ash borer infestation include thinning of the tree's canopy, woodpecker damage, D-shaped exit holes in the bark and bark splitting.

Aurora residents who think a tree in their parkway may be infested can call (630) 256-INFO. If it's confirmed the bug has hit a tree, the tree will be added to a list for free future removal by city crews.

Trees outside the parkway can be removed or treated at the resident's expense.