No plans to tackle insect that kills ash trees

Summer is feeding time for the Emerald Ash Borer, but the city does not yet have a plan in place to deal with the ash tree-eating insect.

Hamilton’s forestry department plans to bring a list of recommendations for a long-term strategy for the insect to city council this fall, said Tami Sadonoja, the city’s forestry health technician.

In the meantime, forestry crews are scouring Central Mountain for the small metallic green beetle.

The city also hired a consultant to help it develop a management plan.

“We’re still … determining positively infested trees, so it’s not like we’re just sitting back and waiting,” Sadonoja said.

“These insects have likely been infesting the trees for five plus years already, so a few more months … we’ll see which direction we’re going in.”

Oakville and Burlington have long-term plans to try to stop the borer from destroying their ash trees.

In Oakville, recommendations were made in July to spend $447,000 to fight the pest.

Burlington has pledged $11 million over the next 10 years for a similar project.

Sadonoja declined to say how much it would cost to battle the beetles in Hamilton or how long it might take to get them under control.

So far, crews have identified about 50 infested trees in the Fennell Avenue and Upper Wentworth Street area, she said.

Councillor Brian McHattie said officials in the forestry department told him “millions of dollars are implicated” in such a project.

In a previous interview with The Spectator, Sadonoja said it would cost $250 to treat one tree with TreeAzin injections.

At that rate, inoculating Hamilton’s 23,000 ash trees — including about 80 per cent of the trees in Gore Park — would cost $5.7 million.

It’s a cost McHattie said is “definitely worth the investment.”

“In the urban environment, trees are absolutely imperative. That’s the basis of our ecosystem,” he said.

The emerald ash borer was discovered here in February 2009, Sadonoja said. Its larvae can destroy a healthy ash in just two years.

She said people should avoid moving firewood, as that is the fastest way borer spreads.

It is expected the first round of inoculations could take up to two weeks to be completed.

Republished from Jenni Dunning article in The Hamilton Spectator August 4, 2010

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