HOLLAND, Mich., (June 23, 2014)–What they don’t have in size, they make up for in numbers and they continue to cause problems for trees across West Michigan.
Emerald ash borer landed on the east coast about a decade ago and pushed west, forcing cities in Michigan to fight back to stop the spread. The City of Holland says they started to notice the problem about three years ago and started removing trees in the last year and a half, but now the activity has grown to an extreme.
It’s estimated Holland has about 1,200-1,500 ash trees in the city’s right of ways but the dead, decaying now leafless trees that line the street aren’t what they used to be.
Interim Director of Parks and Recreation Andy Kenyon says around 45 ash trees alone on 32nd Street between College and Ottawa are slated to be taken down in the next few weeks. There will be street closures on 32nd from July 8 to July 25.
“We’ve been taking them down in the last year or so but now it has become a major problem. Before it starts becoming a safety issue we need take these down, we’re looking at taking down about 800 to 900 trees in the next year or so,” Kenyon said.
The Emerald Ash Borer has the power to wipe out 700 million ash trees in Michigan and has already killed more than 30 million in southeastern Michigan alone.
“The beetle basically stopped their nutrient supply up from the ground, that’s how it kills it, basically gurgles that tree from the inside and stops that passage of water and nutrients. It’s to the point now where it’s starting to die off and we need to get them down before they fall apart.”
Something that isn’t easy but something Kenyon says is necessary.
“It’s devastating to us to have to take these trees down especially to our tree crew. We take great pride in them; we’re a tree city and unfortunately sometimes this stuff happens.”
Kenyon says they already have a plan for the future, working with extra money city council provided to replant trees throughout the area. It’s something Kenyon says they will do over the next three to four years and they are currently working on a private, public partnership with homeowners.
Kenyon says they are saving a lot of money by removing the trees in-house, using the city’s crews and hiring a few part-time workers. He estimates if they contracted it out could cost up to $500,000.