The City Council’s Finance Committee approved a $1.4 million resolution plan Monday urging Mayor Rahm Emanuel to protect ash trees and save the city’s parkway nature.
Removal of Chicago’s ash trees, one of the most common trees in Chicago, estimated to comprise nearly 20 percent of the city’s tree population, will cost $70 million to $100 million within the next decade if treatment from the harmful and invasive emerald ash borer beetle is not ramped up, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.
The Bureau of Forestry announced the harmful beetle’s arrival in Chicago in June 2008. The bureau set out to treat more than 70,000 ash trees in four years, but budget cuts have hindered the processing, keeping the treated trees at around 18,000.
The emerald ash borer is responsible for destroying over 20 million trees in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Maryland, and Canada.
Once tree infestations reach a tipping point, saving the city’s landscape could become nearly impossible, said Rob Gorden, the director of Urban Forestry for Aborjet, the company which supplies treatment injections for ash trees.
The possibility of these degrading trees falling on pedestrians and commuters could pose serious financial setbacks for the city, Gorden said.
The city’s ash trees have not yet reach their tipping point, though many face death by chainsaw, but if measures are not taken Chicago’s green could get ugly.