It's a battle against the bugs, and for now the bugs are winning.
The city of Crystal Lake has been working to remove ash trees killed by the Emerald Ash Borer all summer. Until recently, city crews focused their efforts on specific trees that posed a threat of falling down, or causing injury, city officials said.
But now, public works crews are going after 181 trees located throughout the city determined 100-percent dead because the voracious beetle. And, as many of these ash trees were planted one after the other in the public right of way, residents may be noticing expansive areas where trees have been leveled.
"We've cut 97 down already," said Larry Zurek, superintendent of streets for the city of Crystal Lake. "And when we get done cutting down the 181, we're going to try to get to 214 more trees where 50-percent or more of the tree is dead."
Zurek said Crystal Lake has a 5,995 ash trees planted in public right of way areas, mostly located in the small space between sidewalks and roadways. Years ago, when many new subdivisions were built, ash trees were a plentiful and cost-effective choice for developers.
The good news is that Crystal Lake has 135 new trees on order that will be planted in the place of the dead ones. Additional replacement trees could be planted in the future, the exact number of which is dependent upon budgetary constraints, Zurek said.
In replacing the dead trees, the city no longer plants the same species of trees next to one another. In rare cases were the destroyed trees have been leveled, a new tree may not be replanted if the location is too close to power lines or other utility lines.
Ninety-percent of the dead trees will be replaced, city officials said.
The Emerald Ash Borer is an invasive species that is highly destructive to ash trees. The beetle was first discovered in Illinois in 2006, after initial discoveries of the pest in Michigan, Canada, Ohio and Maryland, according to the Illinois Department of Agriculture website.