Chippewa Falls’ imminent battle with the invasive emerald ash borer, or EAB, is something the city cannot afford to ignore, city Parks, Recreation and Forestry Director Dick Hebert said Thursday.

On Tuesday, the Chippewa Falls City Council voted to approve the Parks Committee’s plans to treat 10-12 ash trees in Marshall and Irvine Parks against the parasite, which is slowly infecting most of the state’s ash trees. However, Hebert said it’s vital for community members to know if they have ash trees in their yards or boulevards. If they wish to save them, they will need to act fast.

“If your trees are within 15 to 20 miles of EAB (activity), you need to start treating now,” Hebert said. “Our homeowners are definitely within that radius.”

Without treatment, Hebert said, ash trees will die slowly, becoming brittle and eventually collapsing.

The Parks Department recently received a $50,000 urban forestry grant to combat EAB. Hebert said the timing could not have been better.

“Right after we got the inventory done, we had a detection (of EAB activity) in the town of Lafayette,” Hebert said.

The looming problem is part of the reason for “Arbor Week,” an initiative Chippewa Falls Mayor Gregory Hoffman is expected to soon endorse. Hebert said Hoffman will sign a proclamation naming Oct. 23-29 Arbor Week, to raise awareness of the need to protect trees and woodlands.

Chippewa Falls residents will be able to call the Parks, Recreation and Forestry department at 715-723-0051 or email Hebert at dhebert@chippewafalls-wi.gov to first, find out where the city’s existing ash trees sit, and second, to find out if the trees in their boulevard are treatable.

Hebert said the city will remove all but 10-12 existing ash trees from the city’s boulevards. If residents want to save the ash trees in their boulevards and yards, they will need to contact the city, and pay for the treatment themselves.

There are two treatment options, Hebert said. Drenching is cheaper, but less effective; residents would be able to treat the trees themselves with this method, which costs about $1 per tree inch.

Injection is more expensive at $9 per tree inch, but each treatment is more effective and lasts two years. Residents cannot inject trees themselves; they will need to contact the city to use this method.

For more information on identifying and treating ash trees, the Parks Department is holding an open house on EAB on Tuesday, Nov. 7 at 5 p.m. in the basement of City Hall, 30 W. Central St.

Bloomer, which is partnered with Chippewa Falls’ urban forestry grant, is also beginning to consider EAB treatment. Bloomer will hold its own open house on Wednesday, Nov. 8 at 4:30 p.m. at the Bloomer City Hall, 1503 Main St.

“Ultimately, we’re taking care of the public trees. Individual, private trees, people are responsible for, but the city can assist giving recommendations,” Bloomer City Administrator Sandi Frion said Thursday.

The Parks Department is currently beginning to cut down ash trees not able to be saved. Hebert said residents will need to contact the department by the spring of 2018 if they plan to treat their boulevard ashes.

Above all, Hebert stressed the need for the community to become informed and act quickly.

“This is not going away,” Hebert said. “We need to act fast.”

For more information about the emerald ash borer and to identify ash trees, visit www.emeraldashborer.wi.gov.

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