South Barrington has awarded what's believed to be the second largest contract in the suburbs, behind only Naperville, to try to save as many of its parkway ash trees as possible from the emerald ash borer.
At this point, approximately 650 to 700 ash trees are expected to be identified as still viable among 1,200 recently inventoried in the village's public parkways, said John Williams, owner of Arlington Heights-based Affordable Tree Services Inc.
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South Barrington is paying the company up to $55,000 to save as many of the parkway trees as can be, Village Administrator Mark Masciola said.
Naperville has budgeted $467,000 to save as many of its 16,000 parkway ash trees as possible.
An ash tree's viability is determined on the basis of whether more than 40 percent of the tree already has been damaged by the ash borer, said Mary Williams, office manager of Affordable Tree Services.
Treatments are made with injections of the insecticide Arborjet Tree-age, which even noncommercial experts say has proved surprisingly effective in stopping the ash borer.
What makes the timing of the ash borer invasion so bad, John Williams said, is that it's occurring during years when many municipalities are struggling with budgets hard hit by the sluggish economy.
The migration pattern of the ash borer -- in addition to municipal budgets -- is another factor that's making one town's fate different from another's, he added.
Suburbs like Bartlett and Schaumburg have been badly affected because the early arrival of the ash borer in some of their neighborhoods came before any option other than tree removal existed, he said.
Schaumburg Village Manager Ken Fritz has said that some of the village's subdivisions look new because of the lack of mature trees.
Unlike South Barrington, which is trying to save all the remaining ash trees it can, Schaumburg has aimed for a specific number -- 524 "high value" trees that are 20 inches or more in diameter.
For the others, the village is aiming to merely slow the damage while engaging in a reforestation plan to replace the ashes with a diversity of other species.
Even in South Barrington, subdivisions closest to neighboring forest preserves have been more badly affected by the emerald ash borer than those farther away, John Williams said.
Though injections of Arborjet Tree-age are relatively expensive -- and even more so the larger the tree -- they only need to be renewed every two to three years.
Before the next round, the village likely will reassess the best option of moving forward, Masciola said.
One challenge to this year's treatments has been the relative dryness of the soil. The chemical is more rapidly absorbed by the trees in moist soil, Masciola said.
The village is asking residents to water recently treated trees -- identified by markers -- where they can.