Although concerns about the emerald ash borer are nothing new in Mount Prospect, some residents still are jarred as they see its devastating effect on trees.
Sandy Clark, Mount Prospect forestry and grounds superintendent, has been vigilantly preparing for the tree-killing insect since it was first discovered in Michigan in 2002.
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In 2007, the village began an ash reduction program, removing low-quality ash trees from its parkways and replacing them with other species. And in 2009, the village board adopted an official management plan for the pest, which was officially spotted in Mount Prospect the next year.
Now village residents have been seeing the impact, with trees on many of their own streets being targeted for removal.
Recently the village board was visited by Ronald Bare, who lives on Thornwood Lane. Bare, a 40-year resident, said 35 of the 37 trees on his block are ash trees.
"We love our trees," he said.
But when he saw the tree in front of his house and the one across the street marked for cutting, "I was horrified," he added.
Bare asked village officials if chemical treatments might be a preferable alternative to cutting the trees down. He noted a recent agreement in Arlington Heights, where officials halted the removal of infested trees in one neighborhood.
Cutting, Bare said, does not solve the problem.
"I think the evidence clearly shows that cutting the trees down does not stop the spread," he said.
Clark said officials know they cannot completely stop the borer. Instead, she said the village's strategy includes ash reduction, removing low-quality ash trees in poor growing sites and replanting as much as possible.
The strategy, she said, also includes treatment of roughly 800 ash trees that are in good condition.
Mount Prospect residents may also obtain permits to treat parkway trees, although Clark said permits clearly state that there is no guarantee of effectiveness and the village may make the final decision on whether to cut the tree down for safety reasons.
She also said treatment -- using such products as Tree-Age -- is not necessarily a one-shot effort. Nor is it cheap.
"The tree may need to be treated annually," she said.
Clark said the village is planning to have a seminar in the spring, shortly before the ideal time for treating the trees. Any ash trees being removed have already revealed the presence of the beetle, she added.
"We are making sure we find the insect in every tree before we mark it for removal," she said.