Council chooses to remove ash trees quicklySuperior’s landscape is going to change over the next seven years as city crews implement a plan to systematically remove ash trees in public rights of way.
By: Shelley Nelson, Superior Telegram
Superior’s landscape is going to change over the next seven years as city crews implement a plan to systematically remove ash trees in public rights of way.
The Council on Tuesday adopted a plan that will remove about 3,000 city ash trees irrespective of health after emerald ash borer was discovered in Superior in August. The metallic-green beetle native to China has killed millions of ash trees in 20 states and Canada since its discovery near Detroit, Mich., in 2002. Beetle larvae tunnel under the trunks of ash trees, destroying the vascular system that carries water and nutrients to the canopy of true ash trees. It does not affect mountain ash.
The mortality rate for ash trees is typically 100 percent 12 years after the introduction of the beetle in the area. A sharp increase in tree mortality begins around year nine after the introduction.
Superior’s introduction to the beetle is believed to have happened about five years ago based on damage to a tree taken in the area of North 17th Street and John Avenue.
Confirmation came in August after park staff stripped bark from an ash tree taken down in the 600 block of Grand Avenue and reported suspicions to the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection. An entomologist confirmed a recovered beetle was the emerald ash borer.
In addition to approving the seven-year take and replace plan for the city’s ash trees, the council approved doubling the amount of money allocated to replanting trees of a variety of different species. The money would come from the city’s non-lapsing tree fund, which has about $25,000 in reserve. That means the council doesn’t have to take away from other city projects to meet the goal of planting 200 trees annually to replace ash trees.
About 1,400 new trees will be planted by 2020, when the city takes down the last of the public ash trees.
Councilor Dan Olson said doubling funding for tree planting was the only option of two — the other called for treating ash trees on entrance corridors — that made sense once the Council adopted a plan to remove ash trees rather than treat them to stage removal over a longer period of time.
Staging the removal would have retained ash trees to 2028, but the cost of treating trees to make that happen would have cost ten times more than the $70,000 plan approved by the council.
Under the adopted plan, the city will begin removing ash trees next year, whether healthy or distressed, in a systematic manner. The city will take 300 trees next year, 400 the following three years, 600 each year in 2018 and 2019, and the final 300 in 2020. During each of those years, the city will plant 200 trees — from about eight different species — to begin replacing the ash trees lost.