Quincy News

Commission favors field trial to fight tree-killing bug

By Herald-Whig
Posted: Jan. 12, 2018 8:40 am

QUINCY -- The Quincy Tree Commission wants to participate in a field trial to battle the emerald ash borer.

"We have nothing to lose and everything to gain," Tree Commission Chairman Anne St. John said.

The next steps call for seeking City Council approval and developing an ash tree density map for use by GDG Environment, the Canadian company looking to expand the trial to three Illinois communities.

GDG uses vertical funnel traps with a "contamination chamber" impregnated with a common fungus that attacks the emerald ash borer. As the insects "exit the trap, they pick up the fungus on their body, fly back and potentially spread it that way to other members of the population," Fredric Miller told the commission in a Thursday afternoon conference call.

Miller, a professor of horticulture at Joliet Junior College in Joliet and a research associate-entomology with the Morton Arboretum in Lisle, is working on the field trial.

"They would provide the traps and all the materials. I have student interns to install the traps and monitor them. Really there would be no expense to the city," Miller said.

The city has from 10,000 to 20,000 ash trees susceptible to emerald ash borer, a bug that tends to kill more than 99 percent of ash trees it attacks within three to four years. It already has killed millions of ash trees across North America. To combat the beetles, the city now both treats trees with an insecticide and removes trees that cannot be saved that are on its property and rights of way.

For the trial, GDG wants trees greater than 12 inches in diameter, ash trees in concentrated areas and trees that have not been treated on city property -- and potentially private property.

"Probably the biggest advantage would be, you're putting out these traps. You're not having to treat trees and buy equipment to do that. Obviously you're not putting pesticides into the environment," Miller said. "It could be one of those things you still use in conjunction with chemical treatments, depending on the number of beetles in a given area."

Miller said the project could start in May, pending Illinois Environmental Protection Agency approval for the product, which GDG already has used with success in 12 municipalities in Quebec.

The field trial should cause no issues with "beneficial" insects and honeybees, and "we will hang traps high enough not to be accessible to children, pets or other curious human beings," Miller said.

Carbondale already has agreed to participate in the field trial.

Quincy Director of Planning and Development Chuck Bevelheimer said he hopes to go before the City Council within two weeks to seek approval of the field trial.

"I'll probably concurrently work on the map and to get council on board. That's going to be the first thing, to make sure aldermen support this," Bevelheimer said.

"I think the potential there is worth our interest and could be a real money saver in the long run," St. John said. "Plus this will open this up to an area where we have connections with Morton Arboretum and people in other areas of the state who do a lot of research on trees, and effects of trees and insects. I think it's a win-win."

Other action

º The Tree Commission also reviewed the 2017 Forestry Report, which shows the city removed 271 trees, 409 stumps and trimmed 225 trees last year.

º Commissioners learned that Quincy's Tree City USA application has been submitted.

º A partnership with Trees for Tomorrow on the fall tree purchase and planting program to lower the city's share of the cost was discussed.

º Bids to remove 77 large ash trees from city streets as part of the Emerald Ash Borer Management Plan were reviewed. The lowest of seven bids was $10,000, an average cost of $130 a tree, from Brad Taylor Inc. of Plainville. The contractor will cut trees down and leave the tree in sections on the sides of streets for the Central Services Department to remove.

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