Committee discusses treatment of emerald ash borer in village
North side trees likely to be treated to prevent infestation
Brown Deer - The village of Brown Deer Finance and Public Works Committee met Sept. 5 to discuss a plan of attack for the emerald ash borer, an insect that rapidly kills ash trees and was recently discovered in the village.
The committee discussed the removal and treatment of trees to stop the infestation of the insect that will kill untreated trees within a few years. So far the borer, which destroys the water and nutrient conducting tissues under the bark of ash trees, has been detected in one street tree on 47th Street, south of Wooddale Avenue on the south side of the village.
"You don't prevent it," Operations Superintendent of the Department of Public Works Larry Neitzel said. "Once you've got the bug, it's probably all over the place."
Treatment on ash trees located on the north side of the village, where the bug is not believed to be in mass quantities yet, will begin at the end of September.
"We don't have a high enough infestation in those trees to cut those down, we can save them," Neitzel said.
The tree on 47th Street that is known to be infected, as well as surrounding trees will be removed, per the recommendation of an inspector with the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection.
EAB budget might increase
In the 2012 budget, $7,500 was set aside in the village's Capital Improvement Program to go toward emerald ash borer. This program is funded through the tax levy.
"We all knew emerald ash borer was coming and it is here," Neitzel said. "It just takes a couple of years for you to notice it."
Because of a grant from the Department of Natural Resources, the village created a plan a few years ago to attack emerald ash borer when it would inevitably be found in the village. That grant also went toward reducing the number of village ash trees and replacing them with a new species. There are now 800 village-owned ash trees, down from 937.
An EAB fund was started as a result of the program and an amount was determined to be set aside every year into the EAB fund. Originally, $14,500 was to be set aside in 2012; however, Neitzel said that amount was cut. There is currently $7,500 in the EAB budget.
The Finance and Public Works Committee did not vote on allocating additional funds on Sept. 5; however, committee members did say they would support increasing the EAB portion in 2013 by $10,500 when approving the CIP portion of the annual budget. This increase for attacking the borer could go up until 2022.
"I have no problem in recommending this increase, but what I would like to see from staff is an equal reduction in some other part of the CIP so that we're not just escalating costs for this program, but we're maintaining the budget in terms of the CIP," said Village Board Trustee and committee member Terry Boschert. "These funds have to come off from some place else and we'll divert them for this program."
The 2013 budget and CIP will be discussed and voted on in coming months.
Size of infestation
There are about 16,000 ash trees on private property in Brown Deer, which comes out to be about a 250,000 inches of diameter of wood. The diameter of each tree is used to determine the cost to treat or remove them.
Depending on the size of the tree and how many rounds of treatment are needed, the cost to treat a tree is between $1.75 to $2.85 per inch diameter. The cost to treat all public ash trees in the village would be between $17,100 and $27,800, Neitzel said.
Treatment only kills between 90 to 95 percent of the borer in a tree. Until a treatment is developed that can kill 100 percent of the insect, an annual treatment will be necessary.
Borers only live in the outer layer of the tree. The infestation is stripped from the outer layer of a removed tree and the noninfected portion of the wood is returned to the tree's owner, which can result in an overabundance of ash wood.
"It can't just be shipped off some place, so you're stuck with it because they're cleaning it all off," Neitzel said.
Neitzel also asked that the committee begin to review the current landscape ordinance to determine how involved private property owners need to become to stop the insect from spreading. He asked the committee to ultimately make recommendations to revise the ordinance and an EAB portion.
"What we would be looking at is to make revisions in the code listing EAB and what the authority I would have as far as EAB in ordering the removal or treatments of the trees," he said. "A lot of communities have already done that and added EAB in the codes, saying a private property owner would be responsible for the removal or treatment of the trees."
Some surrounding communities bear the cost of treating all the trees. Other communities, such as Grafton, let the residents adopt a tree which resulted in less than 5 percent participation, Neitzel said.
"It's something for the community to think about in the future and for residents to participate in this," Neitzel said. "We're not thinking about doing anything like that for this year."
Gauging public interest
Boschert asked that a survey be placed on the village website, browndeerwi.org, asking residents how willing they would be to pay to save their trees.
"I think it's a good idea to throw this out on the village website and ask what people want," Trustee Gary Springman said. "Obviously, neighborhoods infiltrated with these ash trees may have more of a concern than those who have just one tree scattered among maples or whatever else."
In the meantime, Neitzel is looking into acquiring a 50/50 matching grant that would go toward bringing an arborist to the village to conduct a detailed inspection of trees to detail the magnitude of the infestation.
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