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updated: 12/2/2013 10:49 AM

Outlook for Mundelein ash trees isn't good

200 trees lost to beetle so far, 1,900 likely to be infected, village says

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  • Crews already have removed about 200 ash trees from public parkways in Mundelein.

       Crews already have removed about 200 ash trees from public parkways in Mundelein.
    Rick West | Staff Photographer, 2006

 
 

Crews already have removed about 200 ash trees from public parkways in Mundelein, a fraction of the number that likely will be removed in the years to come because of insect infestation.

The culprit is the emerald ash borer, which first was detected in Mundelein two years ago.

The outlook for the village's roughly 1,900 ash trees isn't good.

"We are of the opinion that every ash tree will ultimately become infested," Public Works Director Adam Boeche said.

The devastation isn't limited to Mundelein.

Since emerging in North America in 2002, the destructive ash borer has chewed through millions of trees. It appeared in Illinois in 2006.

In Lake Zurich, about 300 trees have fallen to the beetle so far. Five hundred diseased trees are scheduled for removal in Round Lake, with more to come.

Earlier this month, Buffalo Grove officials announced ash trees there are dying faster than expected from infestation. More than 1,200 ash trees have been removed in town so far, with many more to come.

Recent discoveries indicate the ash borer has spread to one-third of the state, said Jeff Squibb, a spokesman with the Illinois Department of Agriculture.

"Every ash tree in the northern third of the state can be considered in peril," Squibb said.

In March, Mundelein officials created a $1.4 million plan to identify and remove the town's infested ash trees.

The plan divides the village into eight work zones. Each year, the village-owned trees in one zone will be inspected for evidence of infestation.

If signs are found in a tree, the search will be expanded within a one-mile radius to determine the extent of the problem.

Trees that are dead or in poor health will be removed. New trees from a different species will be planted.

The damage discovered thus far in Mundelein has been about what was anticipated.

"We've seen everything we expected to see," Boeche said. "We've done our research."

The project is being done over time to spread out the cost.

Last week, the village board approved a $40,000 payment to a Mundelein-area company called Sawvell Tree Services for work related to ash borer infestation.

A $20,000 grant from the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus is helping to pay for the overall project, Boeche said. Other towns receiving money through the program include Barrington, Carpentersville, Lake Zurich, Wheaton and Wheeling.

Not every community is surrendering to the emerald ash borer, however.

Just outside Mundelein, residents of the Steeple Chase development are trying to save their ash trees.

They've hired an arborist to treat more than 50 ash trees for one year, at a cost of $4,785, homeowner association President Jim Siemers said. Only four trees were deemed too sick to save.

"Because of the overall good health of our trees and since the Steeple Chase Golf Course has been successfully treating (its) ash trees for at least the last four years, the board decided that it would be worth the investment to try and save our trees," Siemers said in an email.

Mundelein's plan doesn't address trees on private property, which is typical for municipalities. However, village hall is offering residents free inspections of privately owned trees.

If private trees are found to be infested, homeowners will receive information about possible steps they can take to save the tree or to have it removed at their expense, Boeche said.

"We just want to do as much as we can for residents and make it as comfortable a transition as possible for them," he said.

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