For years, Kendall County has been waging a war against the emerald ash borer. It’s a battle that will one day leave the county without any ash trees at all, believes Jerry Weaver, public works director with the .
The ash borer is a small green beetle that, in its larva stage, burrows through the soft wood of ash trees and kills them from the inside. Ash borers lay eggs in the crevices of ash tree bark, and when the larvae hatch, they chew their way deep into the trees.
The only recourse is to cut down infested trees, so that the ash borer doesn’t spread. And that’s what the village of Oswego is doing – by the end of the year, Weaver said, his staff will have cut down about 1,000 ash trees in the public right-of-way. They’ve already taken down about 650, he said.
Once removed, those trees are replaced with different types of tree, mainly maples and oaks, which the ash borer does not infest. They’re doing this with money coming in from their recycling program – essentially, the vendor (previously Allied Waste, now Groot Industries) pays the village 50% of the proceeds from the sale of recyclable material, once the cost of pickup is covered.
But Weaver knows that there’s no way to fight the infestation, aside from removing ash trees.
The ash borer first showed up in Kendall County in 2009, and now Kendall is one of 23 counties in Illinois under quarantine by the Illinois Department of Agriculture, meaning it is illegal to move ash wood to non-quarantined counties. And he said that if your ash trees don’t show signs of borer infestation now, they will.
The village only removes and replaces trees on public property. Ash trees on private land are the responsibility of individual homeowners or property owners associations, Weaver said.
Village President Brian LeClercq said Oswego also just completed a survey of every tree on public property, which he said would help them discover any future forms of infestation.