While Skokie has a 'growing' tree problem, the village has locked up a favorable rate with an outside contractor and plans on seeing a healthy return on their investment.
According to the village, several hundred trees have been identified with having Emerald Ash Borer (EAB).
What is EAB?
"It is an invasive beetle from China," said Liz Zimmerman, the village's Forester. "When it is in larva form it tunnels and it severs the tree's vessels.
"The tree is then not able to pull up water," she added. "And it makes the tree dehydrate and starve to death."
While the thought of cutting down several hundred trees because they're infected with EAB might seem heartbreaking, this is something the village does continually. Zimmerman said it is part of maintaining all the trees the village has.
The village locked up a very good rate for the EAB removal from contractor Trees-R-Us, which the village is paying roughly $75,000 for the removal of about 300 trees, Zimmerman said. An additional 200 to 400 will be removed by the village.
Zimmerman added that the village is going to try and plant a new tree for every tree they cut down. All this money being spent is also giving the village a positive return, however.
According to Zimmerman, for every dollar the village spends they are getting about $1.86 back. Those numbers come from the United States Department of Agriculture, which calculates the money spent versus what the addition of new trees will do. For example, more trees should increase property value and rainfall interception.
"The USDA looks at these things and they ask how much we're spending," she said. "I like to look at the trees as a living utility - there is a cost to maintain it but also a benefit to having it."
According to the Skokie Park District website, "parks that have seen the most extensive infestations and damage during the past year are: Devonshire, Oakton, Lorel, Lee-Wright, Lyons, Hamlin and, Winnebago Parks."
Zimmerman added that the contractors should be finished by the end of December.
The village also performs pruning on its trees every five to six years, Zimmerman said. For this year, the village is pruning trees in the area near Howard and Oakton streets. Zimmerman added that the pruning process should be complete sometime before April 15.