Superior's Options to Fight Emerald Ash Borer

Posted at: 09/03/2013 9:46 PM
Updated at: 09/03/2013 10:20 PM
By: Travis Dill

Superior city councilors went over options in their battle with the Emerald Ash Borer at their Tuesday meeting. Some trees could be saved, but the Parks and Rec. administrator said it will be a long and expensive process.

The Green Menace, or the Emerald Ash Borer, is no bigger than a penny, but city crews have already cut down about 80 ash trees infected by the pest.

“In some instances we actually see the bug, but typically the tree has suffered die-back of it's crown. It's in a state of decline. It's showing vertical bark cracks,” Parks and Rec. Administrator Mary Morgan said.

Morgan said there is no way to eliminate the Emerald Ash Borer, but she has been looking at options to save the remaining 3,000 ash trees in Superior. She informed the city council that other communities hit by the bug have saved trees with a chemical treatment.

“They are managing in some instances to retain the life of the tree for a couple years. The treatment needs to be reapplied periodically, and there's an expense each time you reapply it,” Morgan said.

She said it would cost about $320,000 to treat every ash tree in the city, and that treatment must be repeated every two years. She said the council could choose to only save larger trees, but there is cost to removing infected, dying trees as well.

Morgan said the trees dying of the infestation would be come a public safety concern and must be removed. She estimated it would cost $1 million for private contractors to remove the 3,000 ash trees in Superior.

She also explained the economic benefits of saving as many trees as possible.

“That includes things like filtering pollutants, and taking up 5,380 gallons of rainwater every year. Each and every year these trees are offering a value,” Morgan said.

And she said homeowners can save up to 20 percent on utility costs due to shade and wind shield provided by the trees.

The information presented Tuesday was only informational, and the Parks and Rec. Department hopes to have recommendations the council can act on by next month.

Morgan said up to 98 percent of the city's ash trees could die within six years if no action is taken, but she hopes the city will act urgently. She said finding the Emerald Ash Borer is a tragic discovery for Superior, but it could provide a lesson for the community.

“It's a double-edged sword. The sad thing is we're going to lose a species of tree in our community, but the good thing is we're going to be reminded how important trees are,” Morgan said.

The Parks and Rec. Department estimates that there are an additional 9,000 to 12,000 ash trees on private property in Superior. Morgan said the city is looking into disposal options for residents this fall.