June 26, 2016

Partly sunny

Medina losing 1,900 ash trees

Medina residents will be seeing less foliage lining some city streets in the coming years as the city’s Forestry Department battles an invasive insect: the emerald ash borer.

Parks Director Jansen Wehrley said the lost ash trees will be replaced with other types of trees.

It started in 2012 and over the next three to five years, the city will remove 1,900 ash trees from tree lawns and urban forests in many of the city’s neighborhoods.

Wehrley said the trees are dying and will become a safety concern.

The city already has removed about 500 trees, most recently on Essex Lane in Ward 4. Trees also are scheduled for removal on Countryside Drive and Halifax Lane.

Wehrley said many of the trees were planted 15 years ago and account for 14 percent of the total tree population in the city.

“The amount of money that it would take to treat the trees would be expensive and only guarantees healthiness for two years,” he said.

Treating the trees would cost about $137,000 per year, Wehrley said.

Wehrley said the city has spent less than $10,000 to replace the trees so far. He said it costs about $150 to plant a new tree.

“We made Council aware of the insect years ago,” Wehrley said. “Treating the trees would be a pretty substantial burden on the budget.”

Even if the city decided treatment was a better alternative, Wehrley said it “will not prevent removal.”

“We’re trying to avoid cutting a tree down here and there,” he said. Once the borer is detected on a street, “we are going to remove all the trees on that road to expedite replanting.”

Wehrley said the trees will be replaced with a variety of other species, with the hope of preventing another infestation.

“Hopefully, we won’t lose all the trees on the street,” he said. “We will only lose one here or one there.”

Wehrley said the first documented infestation of emerald ash borer in Medina County was reported in 2002 at U.S. Route 224 and Interstate 71.

The tiny green beetle originated in Asia and parts of Eastern Russia, but found its way to the United States in 2002.

Arborists believe the insect traveled to the United States stowed away in pallets made out of ash, eventually leading to the first infestation in Michigan.

The beetle when it is in its larval stage is most detrimental to the health of the tree. The larval stage can last for up to two years.

During the winter, the larva feed on the soft part of the tree, directly under the bark, the part that carries nutrients to the canopy of the tree.

In the 1960s, Medina experienced a die-out of elm trees as a result of Dutch elm disease, a fungus carried by the elm bark beetle.

The elm trees on Public Square had to be replaced.

Contact reporter Andrew Davis at (330) 721-4050 or adavis@medina-gazette.com.

Andrew Davis About Andrew Davis

Andrew Davis covered Medina city government for The Gazette from January 2014 to May 2015. Contact The Gazette's news department at (330) 721-4065 or areanews@medina-gazette.com.