Steve Nicely of the Milhaven Homes Association recently shared with us a good overview of the state of Emerald Ash Borer preparations in northeast Johnson County, and we thought it would be worth sharing. Thanks to Steve for the write up:
A big part of Milhaven’s appeal is its thick canopy of mature hardwoods. But what will it be like in five or ten years after the Emerald Ash Borer has killed off many of the area’s ash trees? Is there anything we can do to protect our trees?
Something can be done to at least prolong the lives of healthy ash trees, but not marginal or unhealthy ones. The insects virtually wipe out ash trees in the places it has invaded, 22 states so far. Only a low percentage survive.
The brunt of the damage in Milhaven will be felt at its lower levels. Maple Drive is the most vulnerable where 50% of the mature trees in front yards are ash trees. Nall Drive is next with 32% followed by Reeds Drive, 30%, and Milhaven Drive, 18%. There are 95 mature ash trees in front yards here and an unknown number in back yards.
But it’s too soon to panic, says Dennis Patton, Johnson County K-State Research and Extension Horticulture Agent. No Johnson County trees have yet been infected with Emerald Ash Borer (EAB), although one of the insects was caught in a trap last year near I-435 and the Kansas River. Now is the time for planning, he says.
Prairie Village, which also has a high percentage of ash trees east of Nall Ave., is farther along in its planning process than Mission. The city’s volunteer tree board conducted an ash tree survey last year and is expected to make a recommendation to the city council in the next several weeks, said Suzanne Lownes, city liaison with the tree board. What the survey found was not encouraging.
“We are looking at a staged removal plan,” Lownes said. “A lot of them are not in good shape. It would be too expensive to take them all out at the same time.”
Prairie Village has a policy of removing dead or dying trees within the city right of way (within 10 feet from the curb) at city expense. Home owners are responsible for all other tree removal. Patton said each city has a separate policy regarding who is responsible for removal. Overland Park, like Prairie Village, also pays for removing dead trees in the city right of way.
Mission does not pay for removing dead trees in the city right of way, but has limited funds to help low income residents. Maril Crabtree, a Milhaven resident and a member of Mission’s tree board, said she hoped grant money could be found to help all owners of ash trees, “but we don’t want to build up hope.”
Roeland Park’s policy is similar to Mission’s. “It’s the home owner’s responsibility for removal” everywhere in the yard, said Public Works Director David Mootz.
Fairway has not only planned, it has executed its plan. It eliminated two dozen ash trees from city rights of way last year, reported Public Works Director Bill Stogsdill. First it rated all the city’s ash trees on a scale of zero to 5 with 5 being the healthiest. Then it cut down its lowest three rankings and treated its top-ranked trees with insecticide injections to preserve them, all at city expense. “We left the 3s and 4s to fend for themselves,” he said.
Homes associations in Johnson County also are becoming involved in the planning process, Patton said. Some will help with the cost of removal. Others may help by hiring a single contractor at reduced costs to residents. The Milhaven board is becoming engaged in the issue as evidenced by this article. So the solutions for each individual city, neighborhood and home owner could well involve a combination of solutions.
A computer search of Emerald Ash Borer turns up about 800,000 sources of information. Don’t start there. Go to the Johnson County Extension Office’s website, and click on the Emerald Ash Borer in Kansas link. There you will find Patton’s advice with more links providing critical information including: How to identify an ash tree; Symptoms of EAB; Should you treat your trees? (Only highly valued trees in excellent condition should be considered for treatment every year or two.) Can you treat them yourselves? (Yes for trees less than 20 inches in diameter); Methods of treatment (trunk spraying, soil drenching, trunk injections of larger trees by qualified professionals). Another great source is www.kansasforests.org/programs/health/eab.shtml.
Patton estimated the cost of injection treatment of mature trees like Milhaven’s at $10 per inch of the tree’s diameter. At that price, the cost of treating most ash trees in Milhaven would be $300 to $400 every two years for the life of the tree.