It’s a bug that infects and destroys ash trees.
And it was a topic addressed when the Fremont Parks and Recreation Department advisory board met Tuesday night.
During the meeting, Kim Koski, parks and recreation department director, shared proposed resolutions for dealing with the emerald ash borer.
Believed to have arrived in the United States on solid wood packing material, the insect is blamed for the loss of millions of ash trees.
It was first detected in Detroit, Michigan in 2002 and since has been found in multiple states.
Documents Koski presented to the board tells how the Nebraska Department of Agriculture confirmed the bug was found in Omaha in 2016 and in Greenwood and will make its way to other parts of the state.
Treatments, which are costly and required for the tree’s lifespan, can cause damage and pesticides can pose risks for humans, pets and wildlife.
Fremont is in a quarantine zone and with help from a Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality (NDEQ) grant the city along with the city of Blair bought a tree chipper/grinder.
The tool allows damaged trees to be put to use rather than being burned or discarded in a land fill.
There are 597 ash trees in the right of way (the area between the sidewalk and the curb) and 111 in the parks and on city land, Koski said.
Park board members each were given a copy of the proposed resolutions.
“We’re getting feedback from the park board and also we’re going to take it to the Utility and Infrastructure Board and see what thoughts they have on the utility side, then we’ll come up with one plan and take that to the city council for final approval,” Koski told the Tribune.
The proposed resolutions include:
Stop planting ash trees. The city hasn’t planted an ash tree for the last seven years.
Complete a tree inventory of the location, number and condition of all ash trees on city owned land.
City trees will not be treated and will be removed within the next five years.
Prepare a map or Google image of each park, right of way and city building with ash trees marked. City ash tree inventory and mapping will need to be maintained, updated and reviewed annually.
Remove infected ash trees from right of ways. Begin removals in parks and on city land in the spring and replace trees with money budgeted for plantings.
If a citizen calls asking for dead wood to be removed in an ash tree on a right of way, the city will remove tree free of charge. If the citizen wants just deadwood removed, he or she will have to pay to have a licensed tree trimmer do the work.
Ash trees taken down in the right of way and on city land will be chipped. Chips need to be cut in 1-inch by 1-inch by ¼-inch pieces to be in compliance with the quarantine.
After getting a compliance agreement with the Nebraska Department of Agriculture, the city can sell the wood chips and the money can be matched with grants and go toward a “Re-tree” program like one in the past (Trees for Fremont). Give the citizens of Fremont two or three choices of trees to replant in the right of way.
Koski said $6,000 has been budgeted for tree replacement in each of the years 2017-18 and 2018-19.