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Expert tells Mequon officials to begin removing ash trees

No confirmed cases yet, but beetle likely in city trees

Dec. 19, 2012

Mequon - While there have not been any documented cases, an expert last week suggested emerald ash borer could be present in Mequon.

Several years ago, the city hired Davey Resource Group, a firm specializing in trees, to review the existing stock within Mequon's municipal borders. Josh Behounek, an urban forester with the company, provided the findings of his extensive review with the Common Council.

During his analysis, Behounek said he did not uncover any cases of emerald ash borer, the destructive epidemic that has been known to ravage various species of ash trees by way of the metallic green, bullet-shaped beetle.

But with documented cases in nearby Brown Deer and the northwest side of Milwaukee, Behounek said it's likely a question of when, not if, a case is reported.

"It's probably already here," he said. "We just haven't found it yet."

Mequon has 43,000 ash trees, according to the analysis conducted by Davey.

As a remedy, Behounek recommended city staff remove any ash trees on municipal land "if there's a good reason to do so." He extended the same calling to residents in the community.

Behounek said all property owners in the city should consider treating ash trees in an effort to stem an outbreak of emerald ash borer, which is highly contagious. An annual treatment, he said, hovers around $30 annually and is generally cheaper if a property owner purchases it in a two-year increment.

"Routine maintenance is so important," Behounek said. "Trees are a lot like people. If we have our regular physicals and maintain good diets, we'll likely live a lot longer. The same can be said of trees."

Alderwoman Pam Adams, who serves on the city's Tree Board, agreed proactive measures should be taken. She said an infected ash tree should be removed while it is still alive because the spread of infestation is less likely.

"This is an unfortunate situation, but we're like many other communities," she said.

Davey's assessment was funded through grant money obtained by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

Trees in good shape

Overall, Behounek said Mequon's entire tree stock - including ash trees and all other varieties - was rated in good to fair condition on Davey's grading scale.

"This is to be commended," he said. "It's a big job to take care of all of these trees."

Mequon has what Behounek considers a young urban forest. If regular maintenance continues, he said the tree stock should only improve as the forest population matures.

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