Residents, officials continue debate over ash tree removal
Hector Linares (right) and Rafael Mendoza of Chico's Tree and Land Service load a log of a tree infected with Emerald Ash Borers on Madison Ave., in Glencoe | Joel Lerner~Sun-Times Media
Updated: February 1, 2013 8:07AM
DEERFIELD — The Village of Deerfield’s Street Department has successfully removed 250 of its 1,321 ash trees infested with Emerald Ash Borer (EAB), but Mayor Harriet Rosenthal said that there are a number of residents who still feel unsure about the decision to remove what they’ve assumed are healthy trees around their property.
I’ve had a number of calls from residents who feel that their trees are still healthy and wonder why we would remove them,” Rosenthal said at Tuesday night’s Board of Trustees meeting, in response to a departmental report given by Barbara Little, Director of Public Works and Engineering.
Part of her report proclaimed that the street department would reassess the village’s remaining ash trees to determine whether or not their level of EAB infestation would warrant removal.
EAB infestations mirror those of the all-too-familiar Dutch elm disease that had devastated the Chicago area’s American elm tree population years back, making it one of the more serious environmental threats facing North American forests.
These small, metallic green invasive pests began eating away at the ash trees common to Lake County’s topography some time after they were first discovered in North America about 11 years ago. They’ve taken tens of millions of ash trees since.
Current research suggests that stopping EAB from infesting and killing ash trees altogether is unlikely; and while Deerfield residents may choose to treat the trees on their private property and parkway—of which only injectable insecticides are allowed—the village will not be doing the same.
“I think residents need to know if that they do decide to inject them with anything in attempt to keep them going, those injections must be made forever...you can’t do it once or twice, it has to be done forever, and it doesn’t always work,” said Trustee Mary Oppenheim.
Though an ash tree in a resident’s parkway may look healthy, public works’ “Frequently Asked Questions” on the village website explains that signs of an infested tree aren’t readily apparent to the untrained eye. Primary signs of infestation include split bark, d-shaped exit holes and woodpecker damage.
After discovering EAB in the southwest quadrant of town during the summer of 2011, village officials worked closely with an arborist to complete an ash tree inventory, where all ash trees were given a rating from 1 to 6—with 1 being a healthy tree, to 6 being a dead or dying tree.
To date, all trees rated at a 4, 5 or 6 have been removed, not including the ash trees located on private property.
The village ash trees slated to be reexamined this spring are those that were last determined to be halfway between not infested, and infested beyond reproach. More specifically, they were given a rating of “3.”
Aside from their unsightly appearance, dead, infested ash trees present certain safety risks; for instance, their dried-out condition is a fire hazard, and their large, weakened branches are likely to fall.
More information on the matter is available to residents at deerfield.il.us