PLAINFIELD – The village of Plainfield’s public works department is trying to get ahead of other municipalities in replacing trees infested with emerald ash borer beetles.
The village approved Monday a $150,000 order of 500 parkway trees from the Suburban Tree Consortium. Normally, trees are ordered much later in the summer season, according to Public Works Director Allen Persons.
“The earlier you can get authorization in the year the better,” Persons said. “If you wait too long in the season, you’re competing with the other communities for the best trees out there.”
The village has previously purchased trees from the consortium, which works with tree nurseries to provide low rates for high-quality trees to participating members.
The consortium mostly includes other western suburbs. Plainfield and New Lenox are the only municipalities from Will County participating in it.
After the village makes an order, employees then head to nurseries and pick out trees. The trees are reserved for when the village is ready to plant them.
The number of ash trees in Plainfield has fallen from 5,322 in 2010 to an estimated 2,365 by the end of 2014.
The threat of the emerald ash borer beetle has quickly spread throughout the Chicago and Joliet areas.
Plainfield has seen an exponential rise in trees infested and removed the past four years. In 2011, 112 trees were removed, according to data collected by the village.
That number ballooned to 387 trees in 2012, 1,008 trees in 2013 and an estimated 1,450 trees at the end of 2014. By then, the village will have planted about 1,700 replacement trees.
The village removes ash trees that are at least 50 percent dead. The dead tree’s branches can become brittle and fall when coated with ice in the winter, presenting a safety hazard to people walking nearby.
“In the past when we first started, removals were done in winter time,” Persons said. “But now it’s so evident and so prominent, we take trees down all year-round.”
Some trees are so big and old that the village does not have the right equipment to cut them down. So the Village Board also approved contractual services with Arbor Tek Inc. to cut down those trees at a cost not to exceed $100,000.
Persons said the village will cut down about 400 more ash trees this year while Arbor Tek will cut down 200 larger trees.