MUNSTER | The emerald ash borer infected 514 ash trees in parkways along the Little Calumet River and Hart Ditch, and to date Munster public works employees have removed 162 of those trees.
Professional forester Gina Darnell, of Forest Resource Planning, found the infested trees during an inventory last spring. The emerald ash borer is an invasive species. The green bullet-shaped beetle is native to Asia.
The inspection, removal of infected trees and planting of 140 new large native trees in the parkways during 2013 will be funded in part by a $20,000 federal grant and a matching $20,000 grant from the Indiana Urban Water Initiative. Additional funding will be taken from Munster’s riverboat fund.
Taking down the trees cost more than $32,000.
In her report to the Munster Town Council, Darnell said she inventoried 1,503 ash trees in a small area defined by the grants. About one-third of those trees were infected, she said.
In addition to the 162 ash trees already taken down, the town should make it a priority to remove another 130, the report states.
There are 132 additional ash trees that should be removed as the trees decline and the budget allows, according to the report.
An additional 707 ash trees are still in good condition and may be treated. Between 33 and 40 ash trees in parkways are being treated by residents.
Treatment can be expensive and usually is not attempted by municipalities. Infected ash trees will be removed only from parkways, not on private property. Residents may pay to have infected trees in their parkways treated rather than removed.
Ash trees were once a popular species planted throughout local communities. However, the invasion of the emerald ash borer in the 1990s has decimated the species.
A townwide tree inspection would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, Director of Operations James Knesek said last year. 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 last summer. “This inventory would include location, type, size and condition of all trees. It will take several years to complete such a project.”