May 09, 2007 IMLAY CITY — The dreaded emerald ash borer has made its way to Imlay City, causing destruction to many trees and forcing city officials to deal with their eventual removal.
City Manager Amy Planck informed city commissioners last Tuesday that the exotic pest from Asia has infected an estimated 70-80 trees citywide.
Planck said a survey of ash trees will take place soon to determine those that are infested and mark them for removal.
DPW Supervisor Larry Lloyd said as many as 30 ash trees along Metcalf Street appear to be affected by the disease. They range from 30 to 40 feet in height, he said.
Assuming that none of the infested trees can be saved, city commissioners are currently seeking methods and costs for their removal.
Planck said there are various treatments, including injections and insecticides, that can be administered to ash trees before infestation. However, at least one tree service advised her that once a tree shows signs of infestation, it is too late to save.
Commissioner Earl Gass asked Planck to investigate the possiblity that the ash trees, once they are removed, could be taken to a sawmill and sold.
"Ash is good wood," said Gass. "There might be a market for some of that wood. If some of it can be sold it would reduce our cost of removing all those trees."
Planck said she would contact the MSU Extension service and a local sawmill to discuss Gass' suggestion.
Kim Willis of the Lapeer MSU Extension office said the wood from ash trees may now be moved from one area to another within the designated quarantined zones (including Lapeer and St. Clair counties).
"Ash is good wood for flooring or paneling," Willis agreed. "But there are a lot of dead and dying ash trees across Michigan. It's not likely you'll get a good price if you try to sell it."
State officials continue to urge that no ash trees be transported from any of the quarantined zones in an effort to minimize the spread of the infestation to other counties.
However, Willis fears the pest has already spread throughout the lower peninsula.
"It pretty much had spread before everyone realized the severity of the problem," she said. "In lower Michigan, there are very few areas that haven't been affected. The big thing is that people plant with diversity in the future to avoid similar problems with other trees."
The emerald ash borer was identified in Michigan in July 2002, having established itself in the state even earlier.
The insect's larvae feed in the outer sapwood of ash trees, eventually girdling and killing branches and entire trees.
The United States Dept. of Agriculture and State Forestry Service report that the insect appears to have a one-year life cycle in southern Michigan, but could require two years to complete a generation in colder regions.
"Infestations of the emerald ash borer can be difficult to detect until a tree's canopy dieback begins," said a USDA report.
For more information, contact Kim Willis at the Lapeer MSU Extension at 810-667-0344.