Libertyville has opted for outside help in the continuing battle against the tree killing emerald ash borer.
Village officials for the first time have earmarked funds specifically to hire a contractor to remover larger trees that have been infected by the emerald ash borer, an indication of the continued march of the beetle.
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"This is not stuff that the staff can't handle," explained Jim Barlow, parks superintendent. "We can't remove the trees like we want to plus these."
The village board on Tuesday approved a contract for $47,300 with Clean Cut Tree Service of Grayslake to remove 43 of the largest diameter trees by Oct. 15.
The emerald ash borer, which has spread throughout the Chicago area, was first confirmed in Libertyville three years ago. Since then, village staff has removed 350 to 400 ash trees mainly south and west for Route 176 and Milwaukee Avenue.
"We're seeing a lot more activity, a lot more (ash tree) deaths throughout town but that is the worst area," Barlow said.
But with an estimated 3,000 ash trees remaining in parkways and another 2,000 in parks or other village land, there is a long way to go. Barlow estimates the village could be battling the pest for the next six to 10 years.
While the village will split the cost of planting a new tree with residents, there is nothing in place for the removal of dead trees. Mayor Terry Weppler said he has gotten several calls from residents asking the village to remove dead trees from the parkway.
With only about 300 trees removed a year, it will take awhile before all the work is done. He suggested the village split the cost with residents to remove trees, an idea that will be considered by a village board committee.
"As we've watched the last couple of years, these trees are dying very quickly and we haven't slowed that down as much as we would like," Weppler said during consideration of the Clean Cut contract.
That percentage could increase to 75 percent if the village receives a grant it has applied for, according to Barlow.
This is the second budget year in which village officials allocated funds specially for an emerald ash borer management program to treat or remove infected trees in public areas. The amount for the 2013-14 fiscal year, which began May 1, was $99,500.
"Every town around us is going through the same thing," Barlow said.
For example, about 760 ash trees have been removed since the beetle was confirmed in Vernon Hills, just a few months after it was found in Libertyville. There are about 3,500 ash trees on village property and officials estimate the majority of those that have not been treated will die as a result of the emerald ash borer in the next two or three years.