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Thursday, March 8, 2007
The Illinois Department of Agriculture will pay to remove trees infested with the emerald ash borer (EAB) in 2007 as part of a plan to reduce the population of the tree-killing beetle.
The state's EAB Management and Science Advisory Panel today unveiled its strategy to control the pest. The plan gives landowners the option to have infested trees removed at no cost if they sign an indemnification waiver that holds the department and its contractors harmless should the work cause any damage.
"This strategy accomplishes two important objectives," Agriculture Director Chuck Hartke said. "It will reduce the population of the emerald ash borer and limit its potential spread while relieving landowners of an expense they may not have been able to afford."
To qualify for state-funded removal, the following conditions must be met:
- The tree is located within one-half mile of a USDA-confirmed EAB infestation;
- It exhibits multiple signs of EAB infestation (D-shaped exit holes, crown die-back, shoot growth near the base of the tree, larval tunneling or significant woodpecker damage); and
- It is approved for removal by an authorized representative of the Illinois Department of Agriculture.
Trees approved for funding will be removed this spring prior to the start of the beetle's flight season.
In developing its plan, the advisory panel concluded the removal of every ash tree in close proximity to a known infestation, a management strategy known as a control cut, is neither feasible nor practical at this time.
"Our goal remains the eradication of this tree-killing pest," Warren Goetsch, bureau chief of Environmental Programs, said. "However, our tree surveys indicate not only that there isn't enough money available to remove both infested and non-infested trees, but also that some trees are inaccessible because they're located either in densely wooded areas or on steep slopes. Our hope is a population reduction strategy will contain the beetle until researchers discover a way to get rid of it once and for all."
The program covers all costs associated with the removal of an infested tree, including wood disposal and stump grinding. Landowners must pay for their own landscaping restoration.
The emerald ash borer has killed more than 20 million trees in North America since its arrival here in 2002. It was first discovered in Illinois last June west of St. Charles in rural Kane County. Subsequent detections were made in the northern Cook County communities of Wilmette, Evanston and Winnetka.
A quarantine that prohibits the movement of potentially-infested wood products, including all types of firewood, is in effect to prevent the accidental spread of the beetle. Areas under quarantine include all of Kane County and 84 square miles of northern Cook County from the Lake County line to the northernmost city limit of Chicago and from Lake Michigan to Interstate 294.
Landowners who think they may qualify for free tree removal can view maps of the confirmed EAB infestations as well as download a copy of the indemnification waiver on the department's website at www.agr.state.il.us/eab. Only trees approved by IDOA and located within one-half mile of a USDA-confirmed infestation will be eligible for removal under this program.