LOCKPORT – Lockport plans to cut down all ash trees on city property over the next several years.
The most fragile and damaged of trees on city property will be removed first, with about 400 dead ash trees planned for removal this year. But city officials have scheduled to remove 2,300 trees in the next few years, according to an announcement of the plan issued Thursday.
The city only will remove trees in city-owned parkways and on other city property.
Ash trees are dying across the U.S. because of the emerald ash borer, an Asian insect purported to have arrived in cargo ships and airplanes in the 1990s.
While the adult beetles cause little damage to the trees by eating the ash foliage, their larvae feed on the inner bark of the trees and disrupt its ability to transport water and nutrients, according to the emeraldashborer.info website.
“Once it comes into a community, it kills off the trees,” said Jack Linehan, assistant to the city administrator.
The green, metallic beetles are responsible for the death of tens of millions of ash trees in southeastern Michigan and tens of millions more in dozens of other Midwest and Eastern states, the emeraldashborer.info website stated.
City officials plans to replace ash trees.
Joe Cronin, city street supervisor, said city staff is working with a tree service to remove some of the ash trees in the north-central and south areas of Lockport. City crews also are working to remove ash trees in newer subdivisions, such as Regency Point.
Ash trees are “spread pretty evenly throughout town,” he said.
Cronin said a street tree survey was done last year as a starting point for the ash tree removal program. While there will be some visual changes to the area once the trees are removed, they will not all be removed at once, he said.
According to the University of Illinois Extension, white and green ash trees are common species in the state. They can be identified by their foliage and bark. The ash tree will have oppositely arranged leaves on a twig, with 5 to 9 dark green leaflets. The young bark on the trees is flaky, with light gray to gray-brown colors.
If a resident is unsure if the dead tree in the parkway is an ash tree, they can place a work order on the city’s website at cityoflockport.net/node/226.
Inquiries on whether an ash tree has been infested by emerald ash borers can be made to the University of Illinois Extension Will County branch office at 815-727-9296.