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Light at the End of the Tunnel for Emerald Ash Borer?

Light at the End of the Tunnel for Emerald Ash Borer?

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Reflecting upon the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) situation in Illinois, 2014 was definitely a disheartening year. Sixteen new counties were confirmed positive in this year alone, seven of which were outside the established quarantine. Compare this figure to a total of 34 from when it was first detected in 2006, up to the end of 2013, and we had about a 50 percent increase in confirmed communities.

It remains uncertain as to whether we have hit that arbitrary critical point in the infestation as a state, or perhaps the weather of 2012 and 2013 has stressed the trees and contributed to increased vulnerability to EAB. Still perhaps, maybe the weather conditions have actually highlighted or accelerated existing EAB infestation making it that much more apparent earlier than expected.

As a whole, the main perception of EAB has been dominantly negative, a “doom and gloom” scenario that has no positive anything associated with it. Much of the focus remains on the devestation caused by EAB, and how to prepare for this proactively in anticipation of its detection.

The impacts EAB will have is determined by the decisions made on the local level, within these communities, for better or worse. What seems to get lost along the way are the success stories, the stories of communities working their way through EAB and reaching an end, or at least seeing an attainable one in the future.

Mike Collins, municipal forester for the Village of Riverside, sees EAB as a way to make lemonade from lemons.

"EAB is challenging but not unmanageable. Ultimately, I see it as a great opportunity to diversify species on urban parkways in a short time frame. We are losing such a large percentage of our inventory and it's nice to replace with many different species."

Kevin Sorby, arborist for the Village of Wilmette, in northern Cook County, says, "For 2014 Wilmette planted more trees than removed for the first time since 2006, the year we found the first EAB beetle within Cook County. There is a light at the end of the tunnel for those that actively manage EAB within their community."

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