UNL, Council Bluffs, & Omaha respond to EAB

UNL, Council Bluffs, & Omaha respond to EAB

Officials at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, in Omaha, and in Council Bluffs, Iowa, are taking different approaches toward handling an expected infestation of an ash tree-killing insect, the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB).

The green beetle is so devastating to ash trees that UNL and Council Bluffs are acting on extensive plans to deal with it before they have confirmed it has arrived.

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln will start removing ash trees this year in expectation of infestation by the emerald ash borer. About 70 ash trees will be removed this year, and a similar number will be taken out over each of the next few years. Workers will treat about 10 percent of the 368 ash trees on campus starting in the spring. Ash trees that die or are cut down will be replaced with chestnuts, oaks, firs and other trees, said Jeff Culbertson, UNL’s assistant director of landscape services. Culbertson said UNL experts will evaluate the program each year.

In Council Bluffs, officials plan to treat most of the 1,260 ash trees on city property, and then evaluate the situation in 10 years. Crews removed 30 unhealthy trees last year and treated 200 trees. Workers will treat about 1,000 trees this spring.

The City of Omaha has adopted an in-between position, with a plan to treat with insecticide up to 5,000 of its 11,000 ash trees and gradually remove the rest, according to an article in the Omaha World-Herald. The City removed about 2,000 ash trees last year.

Regardless of the response, parks directors and tree experts agree that the emerald ash borer has the potential to wipe out huge swaths of ash trees. The bug already has killed many ash trees in Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin and some other states. Communities must decide how to handle ash trees on city-owned golf courses, in parks, and on rights of way and boulevards. Homeowners with ash trees on their property also have a dilemma — to treat with insecticide or not to treat.

“It’s not a one and done sort of treatment,” said Graham Herbst, a community forester with the Nebraska Forest Service. Homeowners must consider whether their ash trees are healthy enough to preserve and whether they provide considerable value, such as shade or sentiment. Professional treatment of an ash tree costs about $100 to $200 or more, depending on the size of the tree, Herbst said. And then it must be repeated every year or two.

Source: Associated Press (AP): Omaha-World Herald