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June 19, 2008

Emerald Ash Borer Arrives in Chicago

City Prepared to Combat Invasive Species of Beetle

Streets & Sanitation News Release

For Immediate Release

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Invasive Species of Beetle Confirmed on South State Street

Since 2002 the Chicago Department of Streets & Sanitation's Bureau of Forestry has been working closely with the Illinois Department of Agriculture and the United States Department of Agriculture to prepare for the arrival of the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB), an invasive species of beetle from Asia that destroys the Ash Trees that it nests in. The EAB was first spotted in the United States in 2002 in Ash Trees in Southeastern Michigan. On Thursday Morning the City confirmed that the EAB has arrived in Chicago.

Last Thursday, June 12, 2008, a beetle resembling the EAB was captured on Chicago's South Side in a tree at 29th and State Street. Since many beetles resemble this pest, it was sent off for confirmation. The City has since then confirmed it is indeed the Emerald Ash Borer and on Wednesday, June 18, 2008, Streets & Sanitation officials spotted another EAB emerging from a downed tree limb on the same site.

Streets & Sanitation Commissioner Michael J. Picardi was joined at the Thursday morning press conference by his senior Forestry managers,representatives from the Federal and State department's of agriculture, local officials including 3rd Ward Alderman Pat Dowell and Senator Dick Durbin's Chief of Staff Mike Daly, as well as officials from the Morton Arboretum and the Illinois Institute of Technology.

"We have been working with our federal and state allies to implement an EAB Management plan designed to protect our urban forest while combating the spread of the EAB in our area." stated Commissioner Michael J. Picardi. "This promises to be a much tougher fight than we had with other invasive insects because the EAB is aggressive and Chicago has a large population of Ash Trees."

The host tree at 29th and State where Chicago's first EAB was found was also the first tree taken down Thursday in Chicago due to infestation by the EAB. City Forestry crews will also be surveying the immediate area to see if any other trees are infested and need to be addressed.

The City's broader game plan is to actively manage the EAB response through a multiple strategy approach. This will include a citywide survey of all Ash Trees over the next 12 weeks to identify which trees are infested and which aren't.

Any limbs determined to be hazardous will be immediately removed and our inspectors will continue to monitor these trees for accelerated decline. Any trees found to be dead or in accelerated decline will be removed and chipped.

Trees that are found to be in good shape and free from infestation might be determined to be good candidates to be saved through the use of an internal insecticide called "Tree-age" that has just recently been approved for use by the State of Illinois Department of Agriculture. In order to use the product effectively, the manufacturer advises that the City must wait until September for first use.

Streets & Sanitation's Bureau of Forestry has been preparing for the arrival of the EAB in Chicago since it was first discovered in 2002 by working closely with their State and Federal counterparts. In 2003 the City imposed a ban on the planting of Ash Trees in the public way. The City has also been using traps to detect the presence of the EAB and will expand the use of these traps to 114 locations throughout the city. An Emerald Ash Borer found in a trap could indicate a presence up to 1 mile away.

The City of Chicago has also been working closely with the office of United States Senator Dick Durbin to secure funding for the battle against this new invasive pest. "Federal funding will be a critical resource in Chicago to assist officials in their effort to minimize the infestation and maximize our ability to utilize urban ash trees," said Senator Durbin in a statement. "That is why I will continue to lead a bipartisan effort in Congress to stop the spread of this invasive species."

Durbin has been actively involved in efforts to secure emergency assistance for dealing with Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) since it was first discovered in Illinois in June 2006. Since then, over $10 million in federal funding has been allocated for EAB efforts in the state. Durbin also authored a provision in the Farm Bill known as the EAB Revolving Loan Fund which allows cities to finance their EAB expenses.

The EAB is responsible for destroying over 20 million trees in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Maryland, and Canada. Beetle larvae feed under the bark and outer sapwood of the ash tree, producing galleries that eventually kill branches and entire trees.

In Chicago, ash makes up around 19% of the City's street tree population or about 96,000 trees. When adding an estimated 500,000 ash trees from private property to the total, ash trees become one of the most common trees found in the City.

For More information on the Emerald Ash Borer residents can visit Streets & Sanitation's home page at www.cityofchicago.org/StreetsAndSan

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