Columbus City Council tonight is expected to approve legislation setting aside 1.5 million dollars to remove and replace more ash trees as part of the fight against the Emerald Ash Borer Beetle.
Jim Letizia reports.
It's believed the beetle arrived in the U.S. through cargo shipped from the far east. The beetle has killed millions of ash trees since it was first discovered in Michigan in the year 2002. It was first found in Columbus a year later. Since then, the city has removed more than 12 thousand of the estimated 30 thousand ash trees located on golf courses, parks, and other municipal properties. The Recreation and Parks Department says the city has spent 4 million dollars so far removing and replacing ash trees, and another 4.6 million is expected to be spent in the future. The money being set aside by this legislation comes from the voter-approved sale of municipal bonds. Columbus' approach is different from that of Cincinnati, Worthington, and ten other Midwest cities selected to participate in the Legacy Tree Project, a five-year program in which soil around the trees is injected annually with insecticides to try to save the trees. The Project granted each city 10 thousand dollars a year to pay for the efforts. Project officials say the beetle took out more than 200 of Worthington's 435 ash trees, but helped the rest survive. They say 100 trees in the Cincinnati park system were treated and saved, but thousands of others were claimed by the beetle and removed before the treatment program began. The project ends this year, and officials in the 12 cities say they are looking for ways to pay for continued treatment efforts, which could include the spending of taxpayer dollars.