Park and forest managers are taking steps to minimize the damage from the emerald ash borer in the Northwoods.
The tree-killing beetle was found in Rhinelander last week, making its first appearance in Northcentral Wisconsin.
Rhinelander Parks and Grounds Director Gunder Paulson says the city already has an emerald ash borer readiness plan. He says a tree inventory a few years ago identified 214 ash trees between sidewalks and streets in Rhinelander, about 12 percent of the street trees in town.
“So the plan is to remove any of the below average trees, and any ones that might be under power lines, anything that might make the tree somewhat questionable. And then we haven’t formulated a plan exactly, but it will probably involve chemically treating some of the remaining trees.”
Paulson says many of the ash trees downtown are already scheduled for removal in 2016, as part of the downtown redevelopment plan.
Pesticide treatments to prevent emerald ash borer have to be applied in the spring, which gives officials a little time to decide which ones they hope to save.
And though the ash borer hasn’t yet been found on the Chequamegon Nicolet National Forest, spokesperson Hilary Markin says managers are expecting it to arrive eventually. She says work has already begun to try and minimize its impact.
“Removing some of the bigger ash tree clusters - we’re not removing ash trees not from the forest as a whole, but having those ash components reduced so that if it is found it will be in a localized area, so we can go in and treat that localized area and prevent the spread of it.”
Ash trees aren’t a dominant species in northern hardwood forests, but they do appear on the landscape and are a popular street or residential tree.
Rhinelander officials will be doing a closer inspection of the trees surrounding the first EAB finding this week…looking for additional signs of the spread.