The emerald ash borer is exacting a cost on Illinois. The pest which kills ash trees has been present here since 2006. It has been found across the northern part of the state, and as far south as Salem, and the ash trees are often found in cities and towns, says Scott Schirmer, emerald ash borer program director for the Illinois Department of Agriculture.
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“Because ash trees were used as a replacement for elm trees after Dutch elm (disease) came through, a lot of the urban-setting trees are ash, particularly on parkways and in parks as well, and the general rule of thumb is there’s usually two to three times as many trees of private property as there are city-owned,” he said. Cities and private property owners are paying to treat trees to prevent infestations, to remove dead trees and to pay the cost of replacing them. If they go without, they lose the benefits of shade, energy conservation and rain absorption. Schirmer estimates a cost in the billions nationally.