The village of Brookfield will dial back its efforts to remove ash trees from public parkways this summer, choosing to direct more funding toward reforestation to begin replacing the hundreds of trees lost to the emerald ash borer.
This year and in 2017 through 2019, the plan is to spend $150,500 annually on tending to the village’s trees, up from the roughly $110,000 spent in 2015. And the majority of that funding will be directed toward removing stumps of previously removed trees and tree planting.
Kenneth Blaauw, public works director for the village of Brookfield, has proposed essentially tripling the amount of money set aside for reforestation over the $21,500 spent for tree planting in 2015.
In 2016, the plan calls for the village to spend $60,000 on reforestation and $50,000 on tree removal. By 2019, Blaauw indicated he’d like to direct as much as $80,000 toward reforestation efforts, double the amount of money he plans to spend on tree removals.
According to the replacement schedule in the village’s ash borer management plan, that ought to allow the village to plant between 150 and 200 new trees annually.
“Some of the sections of town are looking thin compared to other sections of town,” Blaauw told the village board in April. “To me it’s getting noticeable. I don’t like the way it looks; it kind of bothers me. To me, part of Brookfield is the urban canopy.”
In addition, beginning in 2016, the village plans to spend $40,000 annually on stump removal, double the amount it spent in 2015.
“Up to this point we have fallen behind on stump removal, because there was an emphasis on getting trees down,” Blaauw said. “Now we are not only doing tree removal, we are looking at stump removal and reforestation.”
Since the emerald ash borer was discovered in Brookfield in 2012, the village’s focus has been on removing infested ash trees to address public safety and slow the progress of the pest.
A total of 609 ash trees have been removed since 2012, and there are about 620 still standing.
After removing 300 trees in 2015, Blaauw is proposing to remove 150 in each of the following three years. That will allow him to direct more funding toward tree planting.
“We have to jump start that so in 5 to 10 years our canopy will start to mature … and start to appear normal,” Blaauw said.
According to the ash borer management plan that was most recently updated in March, the goal is to replace trees within 18 months of removal, although funding may delay such efforts.
Residents who have had ash trees removed from the parkways in front of their homes reportedly will be sent a form asking them to select a replacement species from a list of about 30 available through the Suburban Tree Consortium, of which Brookfield is a member.
In addition, the village in 2016 has restarted its 50/50 tree planting program. While specific areas of the village have been mapped out for tree planting, if residents want a tree planted sooner, they can chose to bear half the cost of a new tree for the parkway in front of their home.
The village will select species that are two inches in diameter through the consortium. Two-inch diameter trees cost about $400.