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City on alert for Emerald Ash Borer

In response to the discovery of the Emerald Ash Borer in Wilmette on July 13, Evanston officials say the city’s forestry staff will promptly respond to all suspected sightings of the borer, with a goal of responding within 24 hours.

In response to the discovery of the Emerald Ash Borer in Wilmette on July 13, Evanston officials say the city’s forestry staff will promptly respond to all suspected sightings of the borer, with a goal of responding within 24 hours.

The first step in identifying the borer is to determine if a tree is indeed an Ash. Photos and descriptions of Ash trees are located at www.emeraldashborer.info.

Symptoms of EAB infestation and photos of the tiny, metallic green beetles are also located at this Web site. Informational displays and packets will be posted in Evanston community
centers, the main library and both branch libraries by July 19.

Residents who see an Ash tree that exhibits any of the symptoms associated with EAB infestation are asked to call the Forestry Division at (847) 866-2912. City employees also will be vigilant in inspecting any Ash trees that exhibit symptoms.

Options for treating infested trees are limited. In most instances, they must be removed.

Parks/Forestry and Recreation Department Director Doug Gaynor said, “As far as we know, the Emerald Ash Borer is not present in Evanston. However, because it was confirmed in an adjacent suburb, it is critical that residents know how to identify the beetle and symptoms of an infestation quickly so it can be eradicated before it spreads.”

The State of Illinois initiated an Emerald Ash Borer Readiness Plan in 2003 by staff at the Morton Arboretum in Lisle. The plan can be accessed at www.agr.state.il.us/Environment/Pest/index.html. It fully explains the process now being followed in Kane County and will be updated to include a plan of action for Cook County. A link to this site is located on the City of Evanston’s Web site.

The City of Evanston staff is prepared to assist the lead agencies, the Illinois Department of Agriculture and federal agriculture department’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service’s plant protection and quarantine program should the EAB be found in Evanston. As described in the plan, these agencies would coordinate all efforts to contain an infestation should one occur here.

Evanston has 4,059 Ash trees on its parkway and in its parks, which is about 12% of the City’s 33,000 public trees. Additionally, there are thousands of ash trees on private property in Evanston.

“Ash trees were widely planted in our city and in much of northeast Illinois, because they are usually fairly inexpensive and generally quite tolerant of soils and climate in this area,” Gaynor explained.

In 1999, the City of Evanston created a policy whereby any tree species that made up more than 10% of the overall population would no longer be planted on public property. This means the City has not planted any new ash trees since 1999. This effort to further diversify the overall tree population was specifically aimed to minimize the effects of an infestation.

Gaynor noted that experts monitoring the spread of EAB report that the economic impact has been estimated at tens of millions of dollars. The City of Evanston Parks/Forestry Division has been on the lookout for this insect for a long time. “We’ve been watching periodic reports describing the borer’s spread from a small number of counties in southeast Michigan, to much of the remainder of that state and then to Ohio, Indiana, Maryland and Canada,” Gaynor said.

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