By MATT HOPF
Herald-Whig Staff Writer
A plan that would manage the city of Quincy's response to the impending arrival of the emerald ash borer calls for the removal of hundreds of ash trees while providing an injectable treatment to the healthiest ones.
The city's most recent count shows around 880 ash trees on city right of way, and only about 200 will be treated to prevent the beetle infestation. The rest will be removed over time, with the city planning 30 to 50 annually.
The city's program is estimated to cost the city $500,000 during a 12-year period to remove and treat trees.
"We know that is going to be somewhat controversial with the public, but they're going to die anyway," Chuck Bevelheimer, director of planning and development for the city, said. "That's the sad part. We want to try to address these in a manner that we can manage versus having 800 dead trees."
A public hearing to review to seek comments on the plan is being held at 6 p.m. Wednesday in the council chambers at City Hall, 730 Maine.
Removal priority will be given to trees that are unsafe, dead or dying.
"We're going to work with our crews and Ameren to take those ashes down now," he said. "Even if they're good trees, they're going to come down, because they're the wrong tree in the wrong place."
Bevelheimer said the city is considering treating 100 trees per year, but the budget would be capped at $18,000. An ash tree with a 12-inch diameter would require a $100 treatment every other year.
Anne St. John, chairman of the Quincy Tree Commission, agreed that the plan likely won't please many people, "but we have to take action," she said.
St. John said if the city didn't properly plan, it could face excessive costs to remove hundreds of trees killed by the bug.
"It's something we have to do, and we don't do it with glee," she said.
Tree replacement is not included in the plan, though Bevelheimer said the city could look at adding additional trees to its annual fall tree-planting program. The city typically buys 80 trees each year.
The city has had $50,000 in its capital budget for emerald ash borer response.
"We're going to use that $50,000 to be proactive, before we become a quarantined community and try and address the trees by cutting them down or by treating some," Bevelheimer said.
The beetle was first discovered in the United States in 2002 in Michigan. It is believed to have arrived from Asia on wooden shipping crates. It was first detected in northeastern Illinois in 2007 and has gradually moved across the state. The beetle has been found as close as Knox County.
ON THE WEB
To see the city's proposed emerald ash borer management plan, go to tinyurl.com/QuincyEAB.