Riverside’s forestry department has won a $10,000 grant to replace ash trees on public lands as the village continues to get ahead of the inevitable reappearance of the emerald ash borer.

Then village was one of 58 Illinois communities receiving money from a competitive federal grant program through the U.S. Forest Service and other agencies. Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin included the grant funding in the 2008 Farm Bill.

More than 150 Illinois municipalities submitted applications for the grants, which require a 20-percent match. Riverside received the full grant award.

“This gives us a head start,” said Riverside Forester Michael Collins. “It allows us to start removing poor-quality ash trees and helps us re-forest. It’s a great opportunity to get the ball rolling.”

The money will help Riverside replace 30 ash trees in the Second Division of the village, which is located south of the Burlington Northern-Santa Fe Railroad tracks and east of Riverside Road.

In September 2010, one emerald ash borer insect was found in a trap located on an ash tree on public land adjacent to the Des Plaines River near the intersection of Riverside and Blackhawk roads.

Collins removed the tree where the insect was found, but it exhibited no signs of infestation. Still, Collins believes it’s only a matter of time before the pest manifests itself in Riverside. Other nearby communities including LaGrange, Berwyn, Oak Park and River Forest have also discovered the presence of the ash borer. Oak Park announced recently that this year it will remove 250 trees infested by the ash borer.

Riverside has approximately 1,100 ash trees planted on public lands.

The grant money will cover the cost to replace 14 ash trees removed since Sept. 1 and 16 targeted for removal beginning in March. The focus will be on parkway trees, Collins said.

“I tried to focus on restoration on parkways in the Second Division because that was closest to the discovery of the bug,” said Collins, who has chosen five different species of trees to replace the ashes, including Kentucky coffeetree, hackberry, gingko, bald cypress and Ohio buckeye. The new trees won’t be placed in the exact same spot as the ash trees and will be planted this fall.

The ash trees chosen for removal in March are all in “poor condition,” according to Collins. The ones removed last fall were either dead or in poor structural condition, he added.

While the cost of removing the 16 trees next month will exceed the $2,000 match required by the village, “those trees would have to come down regardless,” said Collins.

He also requested that the Illinois Department of Agriculture place emerald ash borer traps, recognizable by their purple color, on trees in six different areas of the village this spring. The traps should be up by May and will be harvested in August or early September and analyzed by the IDA for the presence of the ash borer.