City to begin removal of ash trees affected by Emerald Ash Borer

Online Staff Report

Beginning the week of June 9, the City of Rockford Public Works Forestry Division will begin an aggressive removal program of city-owned ash trees, targeting ash trees with 50 percent or more of their leaf canopy showing signs of distress. The tree removal program is a result of the destructive effects of the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) disease.

EAB was confirmed within the City of Rockford in July 2011 by the Illinois Department of Agriculture. Until now, the effects of this beetle have been minimal; however, it has become apparent that it is becoming more widespread and is causing dramatic canopy loss in many area ash trees. Although the Forestry Division has treated approximately 10 percent of the city-owned ash tree population, the remaining 7,000 ash trees will eventually all be removed.

The criteria the Forestry Division is following in determining which trees will be removed will be an assessment to determine if the tree has declined to the point of 50 percent or more canopy loss. If it is determined this is the case, the tree will be marked for removal, and city staff will provide notification to the resident or homeowner at the time the tree is marked in the form of a letter left at the residence. Contact information is provided on this notification in the event respective residents have questions. City-owned ash trees are defined as those trees found in the public right-of-way or on city-owned property.

The city has also released a citywide ash tree density map that shows the areas of the city that will suffer the greatest impact, as they have the highest concentrations of city-owned ash trees. Click here to view that map. Also, click here to view images of a healthy ash tree in comparison to an unhealthy ash tree, as provided by the city.

According to the city, in the short term, the areas most affected that will be targeted for removals this summer include the area bordered by Samuelson Road, South Mulford Road, Broadway and Kishwaukee Street; and an area bordered by Auburn Street, the Rock River, Elmwood Road, and North Central Avenue.

Although these areas are the primary concern, it does not preclude the Forestry Division from expanding the target areas as necessary to remove additional ash trees as they fall into decline.

Updates will be provided at various stages of this ongoing removal process as deemed necessary by the Public Works Department.

Citizens may call the Forestry office at (815) 987-5764 if questions arise or to request a replacement tree.

Posted June 5, 2014

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