Cascade latest to struggle with EAB threat

A DD ANOTHER VILLAGE TO the list of communities across the county struggling with the invasion of the emerald ash borer.

The pesky invader has been found in ash trees throughout the county, including in Plymouth, Elkhart Lake, Sheboygan Falls, Sheboygan and more.

Now the Cascade Village Board is considering what course to take against the emerald ash borer.

It hasn’t been positively identified in any trees in the village just yet, but it’s probably just a matter of time – the pest is all around them.

Of special concern for the village is Cascade Memorial Park, where most of the trees are threatened ash trees.

The village is investigating the cost of a treatment plan for the trees. But that would be expensive and would have to be done frequently, as the treatment is only good for two to three years.

Even then, the odds are good that the treatment would ultimately be ineffective, as it is not guaranteed to stop the borer forever.

Other municipalities, like Elkhart Lake, have tried the treatment program only to decide that it was not cost-effective.

Both Elkhart Lake and Plymouth have turned, instead, to a program to remove ash trees on public property over a number of years and replace them with a variety of other trees.

The concern in Cascade is that so many of the trees in the park are ash trees that it will take a major effort – at a major cost – to replace all of them with other unthreatened trees. It will be a real dilemma for officials there to weigh.

EAB, an invasive pest native to Asia, was first discovered in ash trees in southeast

Michigan in 2002 and has since spread from

Kansas to New England and from Ontario to

Georgia.

Unfortunately, it seems the most effective way to combat the borer is to remove ash trees – healthy as well as diseased – before the beetle can spread to those trees that are still unaffected.

Plymouth and Sheboygan were both able to obtain grant funds to help cover the cost of the tree replacement program. That may be an avenue for Cascade officials to explore as well.

Removal of ash trees is an extreme step to take, but if it is paired with a tree replacement program that includes a wide variety of species of trees to replace them, it could well prove beneficial in the long run.

Cascade Memorial Park may well be proof of the old adage not to place all your eggs in one basket or, at least, not to plant all your trees in one species.

The emerald ash borer seemingly came out of nowhere to spread its blight across a wide swath of the countryside. There can be no predicting what might be the next invader in another generation or so.

If parks and communities sport a wide variety of trees then, the impact of any future invader will be that much less dramatic.


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