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Article updated: 1/18/2012 1:17 PM

Des Plaines to replace ash borer infested trees

Des Plaines public works crews have begun removing 337 trees infested by the emerald ash borer, including this one along Kylemore Drive.

Des Plaines public works crews have begun removing 337 trees infested by the emerald ash borer, including this one along Kylemore Drive.

 

JOE LEWNARD | Staff Photographer

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Starting this spring, Des Plaines will begin replacing 337 trees infested by the emerald ash borer.

Public works crews already have begun removing the infested trees, all of which are located in parkways, Public Works and Engineering Director Timothy Oakley said.

"We've identified all the ash trees in the city and we're replacing the ones that are distressed," Oakley said.

The trees will be removed intermittently throughout the year and replacement trees should be planted by the fall, he added.

The city council Tuesday approved spending $50,000 to purchase trees from the West Central Municipal Conference's Suburban Tree Consortium for regular spring planting and replacement of distressed ash trees.

Last year, the city spent about $30,000 on regular tree replacement. The budget was increased this year to include the removal of ash borer infested trees, Oakley said.

"It's part of our tree replacement program," Oakley said.

Homeowners must pay a portion of the replacement cost for infested trees that are on subdivision right-of-ways in front of residents' homes.

"Residents would pay $50 toward the cost of the new tree," Oakley said. "We let the residents choose (the type of tree) since they are paying for a portion of the cost."

Typically, trees cost $140 to $180. Residents may choose from a list of about 50 trees provided by the city. If an infested tree is on private property, removal is solely the resident's responsibility, Oakley added.

The ash borer was first discovered in Illinois in 2006. The insect lays eggs inside the bark of an ash tree. The larvae then feed on the tree's inner wood as they grow. Eventually the larvae reach adulthood and chew their way out, leaving the tree unable to sustain itself.

Trees throughout the suburban region, including some in forest preserves near Des Plaines, have succumbed to the invasive insect.

This is the first time an infestation has been found in the city. Des Plaines has about 24,000 parkway trees of which 1,700 are ash.

"Less than 10 percent of our trees are ash trees," Oakley said. "We are treating some of the trees in our downtown area, ones that are in good condition that really don't have evidence of effect yet. But it's costly to treat the trees. It's not guaranteed. Experts say over time you can prolong their life, but they still will be susceptible and will eventually die. Our forestry division will be monitoring the remaining trees."

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