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Emerald ash borer has dramatically begun to change Wisconsin's urban and community forests! Its impact will likely exceed that of any other forest pest in recent history. Ash trees are common in both rural and urban areas throughout the state, but EAB will continue to strike cities and villages especially hard. Though ash makes up about 7% of trees in Wisconsin's rural forests, it comprises about 20% of trees in our urban forests. In some communities the proportion of ash is much higher. Ash, especially green ash, is very common in urban areas because it was a popular replacement for the American elm.
Of Wisconsin's estimated 770 million ash trees, over 5 million exist on public and private property in cities and villages. The loss of these urban ash trees would cost residents:
... $3 billion for tree removal and replacement
... $270 million per year
in lost tree-canopy service to reduce pollution, lower heating and cooling costs, & absorb storm water runoff
EAB is not a "business as usual" tree pest. Widespread, rapid ash tree die-off occurs within a few years of local EAB detection, overwhelming staff & budgets of most infested communities.Municipal Readiness Planning
EAB is expected to inevitably appear in communities throughout Wisconsin. Municipalities are strongly advised to prepare now for the insect's arrival, including development of a funding strategy. Waiting to prepare for EAB will increase the burden on local budgets and staff when the insect appears locally. A well-planned response can minimize the impact, reduce liability, spread out costs and lessen the overall cost of EAB. To help local governments prepare, the DNR Urban Forestry program has produced the Emerald Ash Borer Toolbox for Wisconsin Communities
, an online source of information and guidance. See also under Related Documents below for a simple checklist of steps for EAB readiness planning.What Should Communities Do About Their Ash Trees Before EAB Arrives?
Urban ash management options consist of tree removal or insecticide treatment. For many communities, the best approach is likely to be a combination of these options. Tree removal can be reactive, once trees are infested, or preemptive to trees not known to be infested. Because the impacts of EAB can be acutely high, many communities have chosen to soften the blow through gradual, prioritized, preemptive removal of some of their public ash trees.
Many communities also want to retain some of their ash tree canopy for the important environmental, social and economic benefits it provides. Ongoing advances in EAB insecticide research make selective application of insecticide an increasingly viable and cost-effective option. Read more in Insecticide Options for Protecting Trees from EAB
A municipal tree inventory is invaluable for sorting out and prioritizing which ash to preemptively remove as well as which ones to treat with insecticide. Your inventory can identify ash trees in poor condition, with excessive maintenance needs, in conflict with utility lines and similar problem trees which, under the circumstances, justify removal. Your inventory can also identify which ash trees provide the greatest benefits to the community and are worth an investment in insecticide treatment. Removal and treatment costs can be estimated with inventory data.Guidelines for managing urban ash trees
.What Can Communities Do With Infested Trees?
An important aspect of readiness planning is determining how infested wood will be handled when EAB appears, noting that quarantines will restrict its movement. Who will cut and haul the steady stream of dead and dying trees? Is there an accessible, secured site big enough to store and sort hundreds to thousands of trees and the associated brush and chips, including that coming from private property? How will wood be disposed of or utilized? Do you have equipment capable of handling the amount and size of ash trees your tree inventory has identified? Are you prepared to contract? Removal and disposal costs can be reduced with advance planning. Don't wait until EAB appears to investigate options! See under Related Documents below for descriptions of various wood disposal and utilization options.A list of vendors offering options for wood utilization
is available online.Begin Restoring the Urban Forest Now!
EAB will compromise urban tree canopy. Tree benefits, such as storm water moderation, lowered energy costs, improved air quality, and shading & protection from ultraviolet radiation, will be reduced unless canopy is promptly restored through tree planting. But don't wait until EAB appears to begin planting! Use your tree inventory to locate, prioritize and begin filling vacant planting sites now
, when time and budgets are far less constrained than they will be after EAB appears. Small trees provide few benefits, so trees planted now will have longer to grow and offset EAB impacts. Avoid future catastrophic loss by selecting a diverse mixture of site-appropriate trees. Consult your inventory and steer clear of trees already comprising >10% of your tree population. Be sure to plan and budget for future maintenance of the trees you plant. For a list of possible tree replacements, see Alternatives to Ash Trees.
(Note that not all trees on this list are hardy throughout Wisconsin or suitable for all planting sites.)For more information about municipal forestry please contact your Regional Urban Forestry Coordinator.For help with concerns about private yard trees please contact your County UW-Extension office.A MediaSite presentation discussing the importance and components of municipal readiness planning. MediaSiteDNR Urban Forestry Assistance Grants are available to help local governments prepare for EAB.
Suggested municipal readiness planning activities.
Guide to Wisconsin's regulations on the transportation, utilization and disposal of ash wood
Guide to WI ash wood transport utilization and disposal regs.pdf
A list of possible places to take wood residue resulting from tree pruning or cutting.
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EAB kills quickly as its population builds. Streets suddenly become lined with dozens to thousands of dead and dying trees at risk of causing personal injury and property damage.
Infested communities typically have to pull staff away from their normal duties and quickly train them for tree removal. Many municipal tasks and services go undone.
EAB creates a lot of wood residue! Some options for wood utilization or disposal include lumber and value-added products, industrial boiler fuel, mulch, chips for composting, firewood, landfill or other burial, incinerator (air curtain destructor), or other licensed wood burning. Some uses may require DATCP and/or DNR permits, licensing or certification.
Readiness planning includes training municipal staff how to look for EAB. The more eyes trained to look for EAB, the more likely it will be detected earlier, when local EAB populations are smaller and subsequent impacts less acute.
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