ANTIOCH, Ill. — Tree care companies that charge homeowners and businesses a higher fee to cut down and remove a tree because it is infested with Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) are overcharging, says the Illinois Arborist Association (IAA). Claims that it costs more to dispose of infested wood are also false. Consumer complaints concerning this practice have been reported across Illinois in recent months.
Symptoms of EAB infestation — thinning leaves, branch dieback and woodpecker feeding — are becoming apparent on ash trees throughout parts of Illinois. It is expected every county in the state will eventually be impacted, threatening the state’s more than 100 million ash trees.
Illinois Department of Agriculture Bureau Chief Warren Goetsch suggests homeowners acquire at least three bids on any project before deciding on a vendor. Additionally, homeowners should use a vendor who has executed an EAB compliance agreement with the department so the resulting ash wood is handled properly.
“Competition for tree takedown and removal work should drive the price down, not up,” said Paul Deizman, Illinois Department of Natural Resources. All or part of 25 Illinois counties — from the Wisconsin state line as far south as Champaign and Vermillion counties — are impacted by EAB.
“Companies have minimal extra expenses from EAB-infested trees, so consumers should beware of sales pitches which include hardship rhetoric,” Deizman said. “While there may be extenuating circumstances which impact final costs, overall the cost of disposal has actually gotten cheaper in the past five years.”
Deizman notes some companies may be missing out on interstate firewood sales they previously relied upon, but those examples are rare, and firewood sales are allowed throughout Illinois, including the Chicago area.
“Before any work is performed on trees, residents should confirm the final price for the job in relation to typical tree removal and ask if the person working is a Certified Arborist,” said Mark Younger, IAA president. Certified Arborists have the skills and training to perform jobs safely and professionally, and must maintain an industry-approved ethical standard. A complete list of Illinois Certified Arborists can be found at http://illinoisarborist.org/CertifiedArboristsNew.htm, or contact the IAA at (877) 617-8887.
Infested ash trees may be salvaged for lumber and turned into useful products. Consumers should inform arborists removing trees of their desire to reclaim lumber before trees are felled. A network of sawyers and woodworkers knowledgeable in handling infested ash logs can be found at http://illinoisurbanwood.org.
More information regarding EAB, the internal state quarantine, and compliance agreements is available at www.IllinoisEAB.com.
The Illinois Arborist Association is a nonprofit organization that educates members and the general public in proper tree care. IAA supports research on trees and is based on the mission to “Foster interest, establish standards, exchange professional ideas and pursue scientific research in Arboriculture.”
From the Aug. 31-Sept. 6, 2011, issue