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Tuesday, July 1, 2008
Village of Algonquin, July 1, 2008 --- The United States Department of Agriculture, along with the Illinois Department of Agriculture, has announced the detection of Emerald Ash Borer in the Village of Algonquin, east of the Fox River, near Souwanis Trail and Oceola Drive. Emerald Ash Borer is an invasive beetle that destroys ash trees, and it has been detected for the first time in Algonquin. The Illinois Department of Agriculture has previously enacted quarantines on the movement of ash tree debris within many Illinois counties, including Kane and McHenry Counties. Now that the Emerald Ash Borer has been confirmed within our borders, the Village will work with the Illinois Department of Agriculture to activate our response plan and begin the task of managing it. The Village has already conducted an extensive survey of ash trees in the area to determine the extent of potential damage, and has historically worked to plant alternative tree species so the impact of ash tree loss might be minimized. This highly destructive pest is eliminating the ash species as a viable tree for our area. The Village will work to monitor the progression of the infestation, manage public ash populations, and educate residents as to their management options as it pertains to their privately owned ash stock.
The emerald ash borer is a small, metallic-green beetle native to Asia. Its larvae burrow into the bark of ash trees and feed upon its vascular tissue, causing the trees to starve and eventually die. While the beetle does not pose any direct risk to public health, it does threaten the tree population. Since the emerald ash borer was first confirmed in the Midwest in the summer of 2002, more than 20 million ash trees are dead or dying.
Background Information on Emerald Ash Borer
The emerald ash borer is a newer invasive pest of ash trees. Much like its predecessor the Asian Long-Horned Beetle, it was likely introduced to this country through wood shipping material. It has proven to be nearly impossible to stop, resulting in the death of millions of ash trees in Michigan, Indiana, and Ohio. Its current infestation in the State of Illinois is, therefore, very concerning.
The borer thrives on ash species only. The larvae feed on the trees' vascular systems, causing the trees to starve to death. At this point, most control methods are not very successful and large scale eradication is deemed impossible. This means that communities, including Algonquin, will be losing their ash tree populations within the next few years. Much like Dutch elm disease eliminated elm species from being a viable tree in our community, most likely the ash tree will become obsolete as well.
The lead agency creating policy relative to this pest is the Illinois Department of Agriculture, whose primary efforts are targeted at slowing the spread. Unlike other communities that are choosing to remove and eliminate perfectly healthy ash trees from their midst, the Village will systematically remove ash trees located on public property only by special request, or as they fail; as this happens, we will work diligently to replace them with alternate tree species as quickly as fiscally possible. The Village has taken steps over the last ten years to provide species diversity so that instances such as this do not dramatically affect our tree populations. Unfortunately, back when the elm trees started failing, developers started installing mostly ash trees. Therefore, some of our neighborhoods host large populations of ash trees and will see some very dramatic changes. In an effort to stem some of the impact, the Village has identified areas of dense ash populations and has worked to plant new trees in currently available planting sites in these areas. Hopefully, this will help us get a jump on some of our pending losses.
Please visit www.emeraldashborer.info or www.agr.state.il.us/eab in order to become familiar with this pest and to help us keep a look out for additional emerald ash borers. Please note that the most problematic spreading of the pest comes from the movement of failed ash tree debris, firewood, or nursery stock from a quarantined area (Kane and McHenry Counties have been under quarantine for quite some time). We ask that you please work to prevent the spread of this pest. Additionally, because of the potential destruction of ash trees by this new invasive species, the price of ash trees has come down dramatically. It is our recommendation that you do not buy ash trees as you will most likely lose them before they reach maturity.
If you already own an ash tree, there are chemicals and companies that will make a valiant effort to preserve and protect your trees. Some of the treatments have proven promising, but there are no guarantees, especially when ash populations become low and the pest becomes desperate. These treatments are costly and must be used as indicated, without fail, for the life of the tree. Even so, there is still no promise that the species will survive.
The Village will continue to monitor the presence of the emerald ash borer very closely, and appreciates cooperation from residents in addressing the situation. If any additional information on our infestation becomes available, it will be posted on www.algonquin.org.
For information about this press release, please contact Steve Ludwig, Parks and Forestry Superintendent, at (847) 658-2754.