Emerald ash borer causes big problems

In the five years since the Emerald ash borer was first found in Ohio, over 200,000 trees have been cut down in an effort to confine the infestation. As we have reported previously, new outbreak areas have been found this year. Ash removal has been paid for by funds from the US Department of Agriculture. As the borer infestation spread, costs may be shifted to land owners. At least 10% of all trees in Ohio are ash trees (of several species). The Ohio state forestry division estimates that if the infestation spreads throughout the state, direct costs for removal could top $1 billion. This does not include the cost of the lost of ash trees in forests, including the timber value and the loss of ecosystem services. Nor does it include the cost of street tree removal by cities or the cost of increased heat loading of city buildings with the loss of shade trees.

In Ann Arbor, Michigan, residents will probably vote in November on a referendum to allocate $4 million for ash removal in the city. This does not include the cost of tree replacement. Timely removal is critical for controlling the spread of Emerald ash borer but also to remove hazardous trees. Ash trees attacked by Emerald ash borer die quickly and become hazardous, with falling dead limbs and entire trees prone to falling.

Some smaller towns are trying to head off the borer by using state and federal funds to replace ash trees before the borer arrives. Bowling Green, Holland, Rossford, Sylvania and Rossville Ohio are removing ash trees and replacing them with species that are not susceptible to Emerald ash borer.