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Emerald ash borer likely to kill all village ash trees within 5 years

LEMONT – The village of Lemont is in the midst of addressing an emerald ash borer infestation that likely will kill most of the village’s ash trees within five years.

Bill Peters, a crew chief with the Public Works Department, said the village removed 30 dying trees last year and estimates 50 will need to be removed this year. That number is expected to grow year over year until the vast majority of ash trees have become infected and been removed.

“It’s definitely going to escalate,” Peters said.

There are about 2,500 ash trees on record planted on village property. The village removes trees once they are 50 percent dead.

Village Administrator George Schafer said the village has allocated funds in its general maintenance account for tree removal and estimates the 50 trees removed this year will cost about $15,000.

The Village Board will determine further plans as the infestation worsens, he said.

There is an ordinance allowing the village to force removal of diseased trees on private property, but Schafer said the village has not exercised that right and does not foresee it needing to do so.

Although the length of time an infested tree can survive varies, Peters said he estimates most of the ash trees will be gone in four to five years.

“It’s sad to see the trees go,” he said.

The emerald ash borer first was discovered in Lemont in November 2011 in the 500 block of Sixth Street.

The village decided against treating the trees because it would be costly, require yearly treatment and may be ineffective, Schafer said.

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