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Ash borers Chicago

Ash borers well on way to costing Chicago area millions
It’s basically a natural disaster you have to manage,’ says forester for Naperville

Two years ago, officials in Tinley Park learned that the emerald ash borer was gnawing through the village’s ash trees. This winter they learned that the dime-sized beetle may also chew holes in the southwest suburb’s budget: $4 million to $6 million to cut down and replace or chemically inoculate about 9,000 trees over the next eight years.

Add it to the ash borers’ massive tab in the Chicago area and across the country.

Unlike the slow, easily amortized blight of tree-killing troubles like Dutch elm disease, ash borers kill more than 90 percent of the trees they infest, sometimes in little more than a year.

The ash tree is sturdy and good-looking, but a dead one quickly becomes mangy and brittle, and toppling trees and falling boughs can become a costly legal liability for towns.

“The cost is higher than any of us thought,” said Tinley Park Mayor Ed Zabrocki. “When (the ash borer) was found, we knew it would be a problem, but not this extensive.”

The village is looking for ways to pay to cut down some trees and treat others, possibly borrowing money and likely asking homeowners to chip in.

Jack Mitz, forester for Naperville, which spent $1 million in 2012 on treating and removing trees, compares the ash borer to a slow-moving storm.

“It’s basically a natural disaster you have to manage. It’s like having a tornado or hurricane coming through your community,” Mitz said.

In Arlington Heights, officials faced with losing nearly 13,000 ash trees in short order opted last year to borrow $11.6 million just to pay for tree removal and replacement.

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