Eau Claire works to prevent emerald ash borer

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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) Now that spring is in the air, the trees will start greening up.

Eau Claire's Parks and Forestry Department says certain trees are facing a looming threat: emerald ash borer.

But the department is taking measures to prevent invasion of the insect that could host on trees, even in your neighborhood.

"All efforts to eradicate this insect from our country have failed," says Todd Chwala, of Parks and Forestry.

Emerald ash borer infect ash trees during their larval phase and eventually will kill the tree.

"Here in Eau Claire we haven't seen this insect yet. We have seen it in Superior, St. Paul and Trempealeau County," says Chwala.

Chwala wants to do what ever he can to keep this insect out of Eau Claire. The main concern with this pest is that it can kill a healthy tree in as little as two years. The dead trees then pose a safety threat. The wood becomes weak and can fall and hurt people or damage property. He does say pesticides can be used to fight these insects but there is a better approach.

"The City of Eau Claire has been proactive with our approach to the preemptive removal of ash trees in the community," says Chwala.

The program is in its third year and going smoothly. And don't worry, Chwala says all the cut down trees are used as mulch, and lumber. Also a new tree of a different varieties is planted in its place once the old one is removed. Finally, he wants to dispel the myth that cold Wisconsin winters, especially this last one we just had, will help diminish the population of emerald ash borers.

"The truth is this insect originates in parts of the world far colder than Wisconsin," says Chwala.

That's why Chwala says the city's tree removal program is absolutely necessary.

For now Chwala says their efforts have been successful.

But it may be a few more years before they know if this program is working.

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