The June 11th edition of the Chicago Tribune features an article by Kate Thayer highlighting the current status of efforts to contain the Emerald Ash Borer in Schaumburg. This invasive species has affected many communities in northeastern Illinois, and is a example of how what some scientists call “biological pollution” can negatively impact ecosystems — namely, the urban forest canopy — that are important in our cities and suburbs.
The full text of the article follows. See the Illinois Dept of Agriculture’s website on the ash borer for more information on its presence and impact around the state.
Treatment, along with replacement and removal, of trees showing signs of emerald ash borer infection is already under way and expected to cost Schaumburg more than triple what it did last year.
First confirmed in the northwest suburb about three years ago, the emerald ash borer beetle has infected nearly all ash trees in the village’s parkways, said Steve Weinstock, public works director. The effects of the disease force the village to take down more trees each year, he said.
But the focus is starting to shift more toward treatment as opposed to removal and replacement of trees, said John Williams, superintendent of field services.
Schaumburg officials used a few studies, including one conducted last year by the Coalition for Urban Ash Tree Conservation and another involving theUniversity of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign, to come up with a management plan involving injecting trees with insecticides — either into the soil or into the actual tree, he said. The plan calls for a strategy that could save ash trees and delay mortality as a way to span the removal of trees through several years.
But with that plan comes a greater cost, he said.
This year, $1.5 million will be spent on dealing with trees infected with the emerald ash borer — that’s up from $480,000 last year, he said.
“Until we had the research … it was really difficult to make a decision and say, ‘I want to spend $100,000 on this chemical to try and save trees,’ and have it not work,” Williams said. “Once we were able to see from the research and data that there was success, we were able to propose a program to try to save trees and slow down emerald ash borer in Schaumburg.”
This spring, the village began treatment of more than 6,000 trees throughout the village’s parkways, except for those in the southwest corner — a section where the infestation first showed up and is too far gone to respond to treatment, Williams said.
Treatment of about 700 more trees is planned throughout the summer, including the continuation of a free program from Legacy Tree. The company offered the village free insecticide treatment for about 200 trees over five years as a way to test the effectiveness of its product, he said.
The management plan will continue to be reviewed as officials learn of new treatments and research, Williams said, adding that typically the treatment doesn’t work right away.
“The process and the plan are always going to be changed. We have to be able to adapt,” he said. “A lot of this stuff takes time. There’s a little bit of patience on the public’s behalf and on ours. You’re not going to get an immediate result. It’s not like you’re painting a wall.”