By Bob Peryea

Correspondent

Chuck Nass, City of Whitewater Parks and Streets Superintendent and City Forester, brought concerns about the feared Emerald Ash Borer to the Whitewater Common Council’s attention Tuesday night.

Recently the invasive species has been in numerous locations in southeast Wisconsin, including Lake Geneva, located about 30 miles from Whitewater.

The damage the borer inflicts is considerable. In the simplest of terms the borer lays eggs, or larvae, in the tree, damaging the bark of the ash. At that point the tree is compromised and begins to die from the top down.

Nass told the council that ash trees make up about 13 percent of the street tree inventory in Whitewater.

A complete inventory of the parks has not been done yet, but a quick survey by Interim City Manager Cameron Clapper came up with over 100 ash trees in just four parks.

Nass offered several solutions: do nothing and let the trees die, cut all of the trees down preemptively, treat the trees after the destructive beetle arrives or treat the city’s trees in advance of the borer’s arrival.

He indicated that his preference was to treat the trees in advance since EAB’s arrival is inevitable.

There are several ways to treat the trees, Nass said. One, the trench method, involves digging a trench around the tree and pouring pesticide into it. Another is to spray the bark.

Nass said both of these methods could be dangerous to pets and people.

The method Nass preferred is to drill a hole in the trunk of the tree and inject a pesticide into it. The hole is then capped with a rubber stopper. The pesticide would protect the tree for about three years, but not create a hazard that animals and people would have access to.

The preliminary cost estimate for the project would be $10,000 per year for three years. After three years, the procedure would need to done again. This is an approximate price of $70 per tree.

Dr. James Hartwick, who appeared before the council as a concerned citizen, said, “I met with an arborist today (about my ash trees) and they want $300 per tree.”

Councilmember Jim Winship asked if homeowners would be able to pay the city to do trees on their private property.

“Yes,” Nass said. “That might be a way to generate some revenue for the city by charging slightly more than the city’s cost, but significantly less than that quote received by Dr. Hartwick.”

The council, particularly councilmembers Binnie and Winship, expressed enthusiasm for the idea of a public-private partnership to support the EAB prevention project and asked Clapper and the Urban Forestry Committee to work with Nass to find an effective method of execution and financing of the plan.

Hartwick said he was planning an emerald ash borer informational meeting on Oct. 4 from 6:30-9 p.m. at Timmerman Auditorium on the UW-Whitewater campus. There will be guests from the UW-Extension Service there to discuss identifying and preventing the EAB.

 
 

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