Prairie Village working to educate residents about Emerald Ash Borer plans ahead of tree removals coming soon

Emerald Ash Borer Prairie Village
Prairie Village tree board member Jack Lewis, left, fielded questions about the city’s plans to remove ash trees in response to the arrival of the Emerald Ash Borer.

A group of Prairie Village residents on Wednesday had questions answered about the status of ash trees in the city right-of-way outside their homes as the city prepares to begin removing trees in response to the arrival of the Emerald Ash Borer.

The city plans on removing approximately 100 ash trees this year, with twice that many slated for removal in 2015. This year’s removals are set to begin within the month. A contractor will start planting trees from different species to replace the ashes that are removed. Public Works Director Keith Bredehoeft said all of the removals and tree replacement for this year will be completed this fall.

Bredehoeft noted that the city was still devising a strategy for which ash trees to remove and which to try to save via a chemical treatment. The ash trees that will be cut down over the next several weeks were the “low hanging fruit” — smaller ash trees that were already in poor condition and would be very unlikely to be able to survive the Emerald Ash Borer. Chemical treatments can be effective in saving ash trees from the Emerald Ash Borer, but treatment can be expensive and a new application is required each year.

“This year we’re focusing on removing the trees that are in the worst condition,” he said. “What we don’t have figured out yet is how we are going to deal with treatment in some areas. The goal is to progress with things so the impact of the tree removals isn’t so dramatic.”

Kim Bomberger, the community district forester who covers 28 counties in northeast Kansas, was on hand at the community meeting as well. She stressed the importance of adhering to the quarantine that is in place for Leavenworth, Wyandotte and Johnson Counties — the three Kansas counties where the Emerald Ash Borer has been identified. You can find specifics about what materials — like firewood — are forbidden from being transported under the quarantine here.

“It’s critical,” she said. “Fire wood movement is one easy way that insect could spread to county that doesn’t have it.”

Bomberger said the Emerald Ash Borer presents a tricky management problem for the forestry service because its impact on the trees it infests is only seen years after the damage has been done.

“We don’t know where insect could be because by the time people notice that canopies are dying… and we can actually see true signs of Emerald Ash Borer, maybe that insect was in that tree five to six years ahead of time. It’s the unknown.”

Forestry officials will conduct a survey of Emerald Ash Borer traps this fall to see if the insect has spread outside its known location in Kansas.