Buffalo Grove's ash trees are dying faster than expected from emerald ash borer infestation, leaving village crews working to cut down hundreds more trees than the 1,000 they planned to remove this year.
Tom Milas, who heads the village's emerald ash borer management program, blamed the quickening decline in the ash population on last year's drought, which he said magnified the pest's impact.
"Last year's drought -- its extensive heat really began to mark these trees even more," Milas told village leaders this week. "The Emerald Ash Borer is cutting off the circulation, and now with no moisture from a summer of high heat and intense drought, trees were just dying right before our eyes."
He said 1,000 trees were targeted for removal this year, while 2,000 would be removed the next year and 3,100 trees in 2015. However, more than 1,200 trees have been removed so far in 2013, and Milas expects about 300 more to go before the end of the year.
"What we found out early in our removal process was the tree canopy was dying fast," he said. "It was declining faster than we anticipated."
Milas said 180 village trees are still being treated in hopes of preventing infestation, several of them on the village campus.
Emerald Ash Borer was first confirmed in the village in 2009. Between 2009 and 2012, more than 700 trees were removed by the village.
During the winter, the village plans to attack the older areas of the Lake County portion of Buffalo Grove, where 90 percent of the trees are ash, 1,200 in total.
"The benefit of removing this many trees this winter ... is that we have eliminated one more flight season of the ash borer. So we can actually eliminate the spread," Milas said.
The good news, he added, is that the village is planting replacement trees.
Village Manager Dane Bragg said the village's goal is to replace trees within one year.