Pessimism Reigns in Tribune Article about Emerald Ash Borer

The Chicago Tribune's front page story on the Emerald Ash Borer.

Last night I wrote that I hadn’t seen Wayne White, the Master Arborist who has been treating my ash tree for the Emerald Ash Borer since 2008.

He’s usually in Crystal Lake at the end of the first week of June, but with the late spring he hasn’t come yet.

I called him at 877-SAVE-ASH (877-728-274) to make sure he hadn’t already been in McHenry County and about the front page Chicago Tribune article.

White told me he was in Northern Illinois and that he’d be here in the next two weeks.

I told him the Tribune story was so, so pessimistic.

Tree-killing pest eludes rising battle to squash it

That’s the headline.

The subhead?

Even newest weapon,
parasitic wasps, could
lose its sting as beetle
munches across cities

White is passionate about saving ash trees.  I liken his emotional involvement to Johnny Appleseed of the early 1800’s.

He treated some trees in St. Charles this year.  As he drove to his clients, dead ash trees lined the street.  His were green.

That’s what northern Illinois will look like soon, he explained.

The Tribune article focuses on Oobius wasps imported from China stopping the ash borer invasion.  Three hundred were released in Chicago and Evanston last year.

Evanston arborist Paul D’Agostino tells the Tribune, “We have not seen any results.  We can’t stop it.”

Such pessimism.

So, an experimental approach isn’t working.

But a proven method is.

And it’s cost-beneficial.

The Daily Herald has written about that aspect.  Just last week.

635 ash trees will be treated at a cost of $27,000 this year.  Piggy-backing on the village contract with White’s Emerald TreeCare, LLC, is the Roselle Park District.  That’s an additional 220 or so trees.

Figure out the cost per year.

$42.50 is what I get.

White tells me it will take 5-7 years for all the untreated trees to die.

So, let me apply the cost-benefit analysis that I learned while a baby Budget Examiner at the United States Bureau of the Budget.

Wayne White sprayed the roots of the ash tree sitting on our property line about five weeks ago. He'll be back for the second treatment of the year within the next two weeks.

About $300 a tree under the contract cut by Roselle with White.  He tells me he is treating trees on private property in Roselle for the same price.  (The pricing is based on size of the tree.)

Removal cost is estimated to be about $1,000 per tree.  More to replace the dead ash with a much smaller tree.

$300 for treatment versus over $1,000 for the chainsaw and replacement approach.

One does not need a master’s degree in public administration to figure out which approach makes sense.

Roselle officials consider the ash trees part of the village’s infrastructure.   And, I would assume they think more shade is better than less shade.  More oxygen-producing leaves preferable to fewer.

In Carol Stream, village officials are cutting down dead and dying ash trees and replacing them.  Crystal Lake’s St. Aubin Nursery on Route 176 is supplying 2,000 replacement trees.

Carol Stream plans to spend $2.25 million on the effort.

Elmhurst is chopping down ash trees that are not even infected.

Compare the treated ash trees with those denuded by the Emerald Ash Borer. The live trees are at the Oakland County International Airport serving Detriot.

Go figure.  One would think a town named after the last tree species to pretty much disappear might have a different approach.

And, strangely, Elmhurst officials think the ash trees can be replaced over a 20-year period.  In seven or so years, they will all be dead, so the village board thinks people will allow dead trees all over town for thirteen years.

Yeah. Right.

The Tribune article reports that the infestation has spread to Deerfield, Gurnee, Hinsdale, Joliet, Lake Zurich, Rolling Meadows and “at least 16 other communities.”

Will they follow the example of Roselle or Carol Stream?

Downers Grove is another town using White’s treatment.

But these villages, the ones that have chosen the treatment approach over the knee-jerk chainsaw massacre approach, are not mentioned in the Tribune article.

Other municipalities mentioned in the article were Highland Park, Oak Park, Orland Park and Schaumburg.


Pessimism Reigns in Tribune Article about Emerald Ash Borer — 3 Comments

  1. I think the widespread use of birdfeeders is contributing to the problems with Ash Borers and other pests. The birds which should be hunting and eating these insects are instead getting all they need to eat from humans who feed them. Bird feeding is not an environmentally friendly thing to do.

  2. Apparently “baby” economics is too hard for this writer.

    The $300 treatment is needed every 2 years; cutting down is only needed once.

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