MUNSTER | About 400 ash trees in neighborhood parkways along the Little Calumet River and Hart Ditch are infested with emerald ash borer, and the town will have 158 of them removed this year.
An invasive species, the emerald ash borer is a green bullet-shaped beetle native to Asia that was introduced into the U.S. in the 1990s. The emerald ash borer takes one to two years to complete its life cycle, according to www.emeraldashborer.info/
It destroys the ash trees that are prevalent in Munster and other local communities. The entire tree must be taken down and processed to prevent the insect from infecting other ash trees, said Jim Knesek, Munster’s director of operations.
The recent tree inspection by Gina Darnell of Forest Resource Planning was only on “a very small part of the community and will involve considerable expense” to address, he said.
The tree removal and planting of 140 new trees in the parkways is being funded by a $20,000 federal grant and a matching $20,000 grant from the Indiana Urban Water Initiative.
The cost to cut down the trees is estimated at more than $32,500, while purchase and planting of the new trees is expected to be about $35,000, Knesek said.
Additional funding will be taken from Munster’s riverboat fund.
This removal doesn’t include ash trees on private property such as residential lots. Removing or treating those trees will be up to the property owners, he said.
Next spring the town will have the 140 trees replanted in the parkways. Only native tree species can be planted in place of the ash trees according to the grant specifications.
“We will be securing wholesale prices for replacement (trees) and prices to have them planted,” he said. “This is similar to what occurred after the 2008 windstorm and flood.”
A townwide tree inspection would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, Knesek said. Communities in other states have spent more than $1 million combating the emerald ash borer, he said.
“We need to consider a detailed tree inventory of all trees on public lands,” Knesek said. “This inventory would include location, type, size and condition of all trees. It will take several years to complete such a project.”