COLUMBUS — The city Parks and Recreation Department wants to spend $455,000 to cut down thousands of ash trees threatened by the emerald ash borer as part of the city’s ongoing efforts to stop infestations of the beetle.
The money, included in the 2008 parks department budget proposal submitted to city finance officials Friday, would be the first step in a 10-year, $6 million plan to remove as many as 11,775 ash trees lining city streets, said parks department director Alan McKnight.
The Ohio Department of Agriculture stopped eradication efforts of the beetle in 2005, after federal budget cuts.
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources now encourages cities and villages to spend their own dollars to cut down live ash trees before they are infested.
Under the proposed plan, the city would hire an arborist and buy equipment to help survey trees and plan for ash tree removal, and then pay contractors to start removing trees next spring or summer, McKnight said.
Only trees on city property would be removed.
The overall plan calls for ash trees to be replaced with different species, but the budget request only covers removal.
The insects were discovered in northern Ohio in 2003 and have now been confirmed in 31 of Ohio’s
88 counties, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.
The beetle is responsible for the destruction of more than 20 million trees in Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Maryland and Ontario, Canada, officials said.
The adult beetles are metallic green and grow to a half-inch.
They eat leaves, while the larvae hatch below the bark and eat inner layers of the tree.
An infested tree can die in as little as three years.