(BOB UPHUES/Editor)

With the emerald ash borer spreading throughout Brookfield during the past 18 months, the village public works director will soon ask the village board to dedicate enough funding to allow his crews and an outside contractor to remove 300 ash trees per year — doubling the rate at which Brookfield has been removing infested ash trees.

Public Works Director Dan Kaup said he plans to update the village board on the spread of the ash borer in Brookfield at its meeting scheduled for Sept. 8. At that time, he’s going to ask the board to budget $110,000 per year for the next four years to hire a private contractor for ash tree removal.

The additional money for a private contractor would be in addition to removals done by members of the public works department’s forestry division. Kaup said he wants the forestry division to concentrate heavily on ash tree removal.

When Kaup unveiled his plan for emerald ash borer mitigation in early 2013, it called for 75 trees per year to be removed by village crews and another 75 to be removed by a private contractor.

“That’s just not realistic anymore,” said Kaup.

“We’ve definitely had a significant increase in die-back since the plan was first presented,” he added. “It’s now surpassed our ability to take the trees down in house.”

In early 2013, Brookfield counted about 1,300 ash trees on public parkways and in village parks, approximately 15 percent of its tree inventory.

During 2013, the village removed 94 ash trees. As of the beginning of August, village crews had removed 91 ash trees in 2014, while Bluder’s Tree Service has removed another 28. Included in the 2014 total were 22 ash trees in Jaycee/Ehlert Park.

Still left to be removed in 2014 are another 25 ash trees in Kiwanis Park. Those trees, said Kaup, will be removed later this year after the first frost. With about 1,000 ash trees left after 2014, Kaup said it will take about four years to remove all of the village’s ash trees.

The emerald ash borer is an Asian beetle that found its way to southeastern Michigan in 2002 and spread quickly. By 2006, the ash borer had been found in Illinois. It has now been reported in 22 states from New Hampshire to Georgia along the Atlantic coast and as far west as Colorado, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The beetles lay eggs in cracks of ash tree branches and the larvae burrow into the wood in order to feed on the inner flesh of the branch, creating winding galleries that deprive the tree of water and nutrients.

Typically the top branches die out first and the tree dies completely within a couple of years. Kaup said that once an ash tree in Brookfield shows 20-percent die back it’s apparent that is has been infested. When it displays 50-percent die back, the ash tree is placed on the list for removal.

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