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Bolingbrook weighs ash tree removal, new treatment options

Published: Wednesday, July 24, 2013 7:34 p.m. CDT

BOLINGBROOK – Bolingbrook is considering every option in its fight against the emerald ash borer.

In June, the village approved a $65,980 expenditure to remove 142 trees infested with the bug from center medians on Route 53. Now, new reports from the Illinois Department of Agriculture have led Bolingbrook to enact another plan: treating the trees with insecticide.

During a Bolingbrook Village Board meeting July 16, Mayor Roger Claar called the emerald ash borer “public enemy number one,” explaining the invasive species – which first arrived in Bolingbrook in 2011 – is poisoning and killing the community’s 36,000 ash trees and forcing village officials to consider treatment and removal options.

The emerald ash borer is an invasive beetle that lays eggs inside ash tree bark, steadily killing its host and decimating local ash populations.

“We have spent hours upon hours discussing the emerald ash borer problem in the last few weeks,” Claar said. “We have trees that are infected and they are dying, and we have other trees that are in various stages of infection.”

Bolingbrook’s decision to begin treating some of the infested trees also hinges upon a recent recommendation from the Illinois Department of Agriculture, Claar said.

“For a number of years, the Illinois Department of Agriculture did not recommend treating ash trees,” Claar said. “[According to the department of agriculture] it was not worth the cost and [the treatment] was not that effective. So we followed that direction.”

The department recently shifted its point of view, now stating new science and information suggests some ash trees may be worth treating with insecticide, Claar said.

Going forward, Claar said the village will commission environmentalists and landscape companies to inspect ash trees on a case-by-case basis, then determine whether the best option is treatment or removal.

During last week’s meeting, local officials approved two resolutions to treat and remove infested ash trees along public sidewalks, roadways and medians.

The village will spend $50,000 to $100,000 excavating up to 170 infected trees from Bolingbrook’s main roadways.

Additionally, Bolingbrook officials signed off on a $250,000 treatment plan, enlisting the services of Kinnucan Tree Experts and Landscape Company.

Kinnucan soon will begin ash tree inspections, eventually injecting up to 3,000 ash trees with Tree-age, an insecticide that is contained within the tree and lethal to the emerald ash borer for up to three years.

In the coming weeks, Kinnucan will begin to inspect each ash tree population on a case-by-case basis, and then determine if the ash trees are worth treating, or if they should be removed. Kinnucan will inject Tree-age into ash trees that have 60 percent or more of their foliage and are in otherwise healthy condition, according to Bolingbrook officials.

Kinnucan first will inspect ash trees on Bolingbrook’s main public roads, then move to arterial streets and neighborhoods. Claar said the village and Bolingbrook Public Works will continue to replace the excavated ash trees, if funds permit.

He said the endeavor will take years and drain the village of millions of dollars.

“It saddens me, because it will take us years to complete, and we will be spending millions for it to just look the same as before, but I think we are making the best move we can,” Claar said.

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