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Cities prepare for arrival of ash tree-killing bug

DIXON – One Sauk Valley city that has already been hit by the emerald ash borer is alerting people about how to protect their trees.

Two other cities, which have not yet seen the bug, are preparing for a possible invasion.

Dixon discovered an infestation of the bug in late September at Raynor Garage Doors, 1101 E. River Road, according to the Illinois Department of Agriculture.

Other cities in the area have taken note. In Sterling, officials are preparing for the invasion of a tiny bug that will eventually destroy all the city’s ash trees.

All ash trees in the city will eventually be hit, the city learned at a recent City Council meeting.

Through the help of volunteers, Sterling discovered it has 184 ash trees on public rights-of-way, said Hadley Skeffington-Vos, assistant to City Manager Scott Shumard.

Members of Sauk Valley Community College’s baseball team inventoried all the city’s trees on Sept. 29, she said.

That’s when the city learned the total number of ash trees.

There are three options to get rid of the beetle, she said: cutting down the ash tree; cutting down the ash trees and replacing them; or treating the trees with chemicals.

The beetle also can cause problems for stormwater collection, she said. That’s because the bug kills trees that help soak up the excess water before it gets to the drains.

The bug also can result in a reduction in property values and diminished character and aesthetics of the city, she said.

Skeffington-Vos is working to determine how much the city must pay to cut down, replace or treat the trees chemically.

Rock Falls City Administrator Robbin Blackert said Rock Falls was beginning to conduct an inventory of the city’s ash trees.

“Depending on where our trees are and how we think it would affect their property values, that would be taken into consideration,” she said.

Once the city determines the number of ash trees, it will decide what the best option is to deal with the borer.

Dixon picks up the pieces

Carol Chandler is chairwoman of the Dixon Tree Commission. She said the beetle that had been found in the trees at Raynor had been there for a while.

“I’m sure there are others that are affected in the area,” she said. “I’m fairly sure that that has happened elsewhere.”

The bugs are dormant now, she said. Tree Commission members can’t do much until May.

Chandler said she planned to have a public forum in early April to educate residents about the bug and what to look for. Commission members are researching how other cities have handled such an infestation.

Chandler said she believes all ash trees within a mile of the plant should be taken down.

“It doesn’t look good for any ash trees in Dixon,” she said.

Protecting against the emerald ash borer

The city of Dixon's Tree Commission issued the following information to residents in order to help protect against the emerald ash borer.

1. Do not move firewood across county lines. The EAB can easily be transported in ash logs.

2. Purchase firewood locally from a known source.

3. Be sure to use all of the firewood in the cold months so that no hidden EAB larvae or adults can survive on logs left through the spring.

4. There may be state or federal quarantines in place that will restrict the movement of ash logs, branches or other material in your area. Check with your municipal government or the Illinois Department of Agriculture for information. 

5. Monitor the health of ash trees. Look for dead and dying branches at the top of the tree. More branches will die in the years to follow. The bark may split vertically. As the tree dies, suckers will sprout from the base of the tree and on the trunk. Treatments with insecticides are being studied, however, all ash trees near to any new infestation will be lost. Adult beetles emerging from trees will leave a very small, 1/8-inch-diameter distinctly “D” shaped hole that may appear anywhere on the trunk or upper branches.

If you think that you might have emerald ash borer, you may contact the Illinois Department of Agriculture’s Pesticide Hotline at 800-641-3934 or call the national EAB hotline at 866-EAB-4512.

Source: Carol Chandler, Dixon Tree Commission.

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