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February 24, 2014

Pre-emptive measures under way against ash borer

City plans to cut some ash trees to avoid glut of dead timber

TERRE HAUTE — The City of Terre Haute is trying to get ahead of the Emerald Ash Borer, a bug that infests and kills ash trees.

The EAB has been active in Vigo County and is expected to kill many of the 1,500 ash trees on city-owned property, such as tree rows, over the next few years. As a result, the city is attempting to remove a couple hundred ash trees each year for the next few years to avoid being flooded with dead trees that need to be removed all at once, said Sheryle Dell, the city’s urban forester.

“We’re trying to be proactive in removing the trees,” Dell said Monday. Waiting until hundreds of trees need to be removed would overwhelm the city’s tree removal contractors, she said.

Each year, the city removes a few hundred trees deemed hazardous to the pubic because of rotting or damage. The city spends about $190,000 each year removing and replacing such trees, Dell said. That budget hasn’t changed in seven years, she said.

But this year, the city hopes to begin taking out ash trees before the EAB takes root in them. Such ash trees will be those in narrow tree rows, under power lines or in other areas where they would likely need to be removed in the future in any case, Dell said.

For homeowners who want tree-row ash trees preserved, Dell will give them the option of paying to treat the tree against the EAB, she said. Even if a tree is infected with the ash borer, it is often not too late to save the tree, she said.

Last year, the city removed 323 hazard trees of various kinds – especially maples – from tree rows and planted about 82 new trees, Dell said. The city will replant trees in tree rows at a homeowner’s request, she said.

The city, along with not-for-profit groups such as TREES Inc., also planted about 600 other trees last year in various parts of the city, including many on Brown Boulevard, Dell said. The city’s publicly owned tree canopy includes about 17,000 trees, not including those in city parks.

A few neighborhoods in Terre Haute have high concentrations of ash trees, and Dell is offering to speak to groups in those areas regarding ways to treat ash trees or to answer other questions regarding the EAB. The eastside neighborhoods of Dobbs Glenn and Wyndham are both heavily populated with ash trees, she noted.

Dell can be reached by at 812-232-4028 or by email at Sheryle.Dell@terrehaute.IN.gov.

Reporter Arthur Foulkes can be reached at 812-231-4232 or arthur.foulkes@tribstar.com.

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