The emerald ash borer (EAB), a non-native invasive insect, was first discovered in southeast Michigan in 2002. Since then millions of ash trees in Michigan and other states have fallen victim to EAB—either dying from infestation or having been removed preemptively.
With little research to draw on in the early years of EAB infestation, the conventional wisdom was that treatment would be extremely expensive and have low rates of success. As a result, initial efforts to address EAB focused on removing and replacing trees in and near infested areas. By 2006, however, research showed increasing success with insecticide treatments, which also became more affordable. In early 2011 the national Coalition for Urban Ash Tree Conservation endorsed ash treatment as a fundamental component of integrated programs to manage EAB in residential and municipal settings.
EAB has been evident in all areas of Grand Rapids since 2009. Grand Rapids public ash population is currently estimated at 5,300 trees, including 4,000 street trees and 1,300 trees in parks. The City plans to provide ongoing treatment of over 1,400 trees, selected based on factors including size, condition and location.
The City’s response to EAB reflects a collaborative effort of City staff and community members involved in the Parks and Recreation Department, the Urban Forestry Committee, and the EAB Task Force. Community volunteers have made significant contributions by conducting extensive research, bringing EAB experts to Grand Rapids, helping to educate the community about EAB and the role of treatment, initiating partnerships with neighborhood, environmental and other organizations, and providing funding to save valuable ash canopy.
Thanks to these volunteers and responsive City staff members, Grand Rapids is among the forward-thinking municipalities implementing EAB treatment as a cost-effective approach to help retain the maximum value of the City’s ash tree population.
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