If you’re living in Lincoln, Nebraska you might have noticed that a lot of trees around town have been marked with green ribbons saying “Ash Tree At Risk”. What’s going on? Are all of these trees scheduled to be cut down?
The ribbons also have a URL for more information: eabne.info. That takes you to the Nebraska Forest Service page with information about the Emerald Ash Borer. The Emerald Ash Borer is an insect originally from Asia that has been killing hundreds of millions of trees in the Eastern United States and Canada. It infests all North American species of Ash. While it hasn’t been detected in Nebraska yet, our government has been planning for an infestation for years.
According to the Nebraska Emerald Ash Borer Response Plan (available here), which was first approved in 2008, preventative measures for an infestation include the need to “assess the scope of the resource at risk (number of ash trees)” as well as determine “high risk areas” (pg. 8). The ultimate goal is to prepare for the worst and to be able to spread the cost of tree removal over several years, rather than face a sudden need to remove dozens or hundreds of dead trees in a single year.
What this DOESN’T mean is that the city is cutting down all of the Ash trees. According to The Lincoln Journal Star, the ribbons are part of a service club project to raise awareness of the threat. Of Lincoln’s approximately 54,000 ash trees, only 300 have been marked, mostly in the downtown area.
Part of the awareness project is to show what Lincoln will look like with all of these trees gone. There are both preventative and restorative treatment options for an EAB infestation. Healthy-looking trees in good locations are given priority. However, unhealthy trees or trees built under wires or too close to sidewalks or buildings are more likely to be removed than treated, which will mean a change of scenery for the university students, since Ash lines many of the sidewalks.
It’s also important to note that the pest can be spread through the movement of firewood. Not only does moving firewood spread EAB, it is also responsible for the spread of Thousand Cankers Disease. (Learn more at dontmovefirewood.org).
For more information about the government response and what you need to know as a homeowner, or to report an Emerald Ash Borer sighting, visit eabne.info.