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posted: 5/22/2012 3:18 PM

Buffalo Grove surrenders to emerald ash borer

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  • Buffalo Grove officials said Monday they plan to remove about 7,100 parkway ash trees because of infestation by the emerald ash borer. The village joins many of its suburban neighbors in choosing removal over treatment as their primary weapon in the battle against the tree-ravaging pest.

       Buffalo Grove officials said Monday they plan to remove about 7,100 parkway ash trees because of infestation by the emerald ash borer. The village joins many of its suburban neighbors in choosing removal over treatment as their primary weapon in the battle against the tree-ravaging pest.
    Rick West | Staff Photographer

 

The emerald ash borer has a mighty track record of victories in the Northwest Suburbs.

It can now add another mark to its tally.

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Buffalo Grove officials all but waved the white flag of surrender Monday when village trustees learned public works crews will be taking down more than 7,000 parkway ash trees over the next four years because of the insect infestation.

"I really do believe we're past the control," said Rick Kuhl, the village's deputy director of public works. "I hate to lose the trees, too. I have been here for 36 years and I helped take care of those trees."

The village is choosing to remove the trees rather than trying treatment first.

"We don't believe that the treatment option is going to be cost effective," Village Manager Dane Bragg said. "It could be effective, but there are really no guarantees. Probably the most fiscally prudent measure is to remove the trees and have trees that will be safer and lower risk for the public."

Treatment, officials said, would cost the village about $465,000 every two years, without any certainty whether the trees would persevere.

Kuhl said residents can treat their own parkway trees at their own cost as long as they notify the village. The village reserves the right o remove the tree if it poses a danger.

Buffalo Grove joins several other suburban communities in choosing the removal of ash trees as their primary strategy in battling ash borer infestation. Arlington Heights is expected to spend more than $11 million to remove and replace about 13,000 ash trees. Schaumburg plans to spend about $9 million removing and replacing trees.

Though the emerald ash borer officially was found in Buffalo Grove in September 2009, Kuhl said he believes that the infestation probably already arrived about the time the insect first was discovered in Michigan in 2002.

He told the village board Monday that more than 1,000 ash trees have been trimmed and inspected in the last year, and every one of them was infested.

"We're probably 100 percent infested in the community right now," Kuhl said.

Trees are being taken down daily, he adding, including some that have been in the village for as long as 25 years.

Many of the infested trees remain green and healthy looking today, Kuhl said. Now is when the adult beetle typically emerges, laying numerous eggs in the bark of the tree. The eggs hatch within seven to 10 days and then the insect's larvae burrow into the trunk, ultimately cutting off the flow of water and nutrients to the tree.

The village has targeted 7,100 trees for removal and is working on a long-term replanting agreement with its grower that would lock in prices and grow 1,400 trees per year for the village over the next five years.

Kuhl said the village has received a $20,000 grant for removal of trees through the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus.

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