Some 2,050 ash trees infested with the emerald ash borer in Elk Grove Village are targeted for removal by next spring -- the last trees to be taken down as part of a multiyear program to combat the pest.
It will cost the village $739,000, but officials have been anticipating it for some time -- as well as putting money aside for replacement trees once the old ones have been chopped down, chipped and hauled away, and their stumps ground.
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The village board Tuesday agreed to extend a contract with Elk Grove Village-based Powell Tree Care, Inc., in light of newly discovered infested trees in need of removal. The village began contracting with the company in 2007, and extended the original agreement in 2012 as the contractor was in the midst of removing infected trees.
The extension runs through April 30, 2016.
Already, about 3,000 ash trees have been removed from the public rights-of-way -- about two-thirds of which have been taken down since last summer alone, according to Mayor Craig Johnson. Last year's rough winter and summer drought accelerated the deterioration of the infested ash trees, he said.
Johnson said some 350 autumn purple ash trees will be staying put for now, since they so far have shown to be resistant to infestation.
Most of the village's ash trees are in the middle and western portions of town; few are on the east side where the original Elk Grove neighborhoods were established. Johnson said it was common for developers of subdivisions to plant trees of the same type for the sake of uniformity and the establishment of a canopy.
Today, a variety of trees -- from elm to oak, and linden to pear -- are being planted in the spots where infected ash trees have been removed.
In 2006, the village inked a deal with St. Aubin Nursery in Kirkland, DeKalb County, to begin planting replacement trees that would grow for at least five years at the tree farm before coming to Elk Grove Village to replace the ash trees.
Every year since 2007, the village has spent about $80,000 to plant 500 to 600 trees. Most trees are between 15 and 20 feet high.
"They're not little sticks," Johnson said. "The board had foresight. We've been prepared for this. But we didn't think we would spend the money as fast."
All expenditures related to Elk Grove's response to the emerald ash borer come from the village's recycling fund, which has always been designated for community beautification projects, Johnson said.