Riverside is serving as a laboratory of sorts for Morton Arboretum, which is performing research on how to effectively deal with the emerald ash borer, the invasive pest that has been responsible for killing millions of ash trees in the U.S. and Canada in recent years.
Officials earlier this year announced that the emerald ash borer had found its way to Riverside, resulting in the removal of around 20 trees on the north end of the village near Ames School.
Last week a crew from Morton Arboretum, supervised by Dr. Fredric Miller, was in Indian Gardens, where there is a concentration of ash trees, treating dozens of green and blue ashes with a pair of chemicals to see how effective they are at halting the spread of the emerald ash borer.
“The treatments generally last about a year,” said Village Forester Michael Collins, a former student of Miller. “It’ll be up to him to study for effectiveness and perhaps reapply [the treatments] in subsequent years.
“Riverside has become a field laboratory on invasive species which have implications for the entire Chicago area.”
While Miller, a research associate for Morton Arboretum, has focused his efforts on Indian Gardens so far, the study area could grow to include Riverside’s parkways.
“That’s Fred’s call moving forward,” Collins said.
The trees are being treated with two versions of what Collins called a “systemic insecticide.” The ground around the base of the tree is drenched with the chemical, and the tree roots then take the chemical up through the rest of the tree.
About 60 trees whose trunks range in size from 20 to 30 inches in diameter are targeted for the study in this initial phase, said Collins, and the cost – roughly $4,500 -is being borne by Morton Arboretum.
Riverside has more than 1,000 ash trees in its public inventory.
“For me it’s a win-win,” said Collins. “We don’t have funding for treating the trees.”