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June 19, 2018 10:19 PM

How Omaha Is Battling The Emerald Ash Borer

OMAHA, Neb.

Since the Emerald Ash Borer turned up in northern Sioux Falls, we've been showing you how people in KELOLAND are working to fight it. 

Of course, Sioux Falls is just the latest stop for the bug that has killed millions of trees in the country. 

We wanted to find out how other cities are dealing with the problem. 

KELOLAND News headed to Omaha to find out how the city started preparing for it years ago and what the city is doing today. 

City Forester John Wynn says the beetle was first found in a city park in the southeast part of town in June of 2016. 

While the bug was discovered two years ago, the battle against it started much earlier in Nebraska's largest city. 

"Well, we've been preparing for it for about 8 years now," City Forester John Wynn said. 

Wynn says a tree inventory was taken so the city knew what it was up against. 

Crews removed about 2,200 ash trees prior to finding the emerald ash borer. 

The department also secured funding for more equipment and manpower. 

"So we put on an additional crew and we got additional equipment to remove just ash trees. That crew just removes ash trees," Wynn said. 

Some 2,400 ash trees have been removed since the discovery of the bug. 

The city has also been planting new trees in parks. 

"We're planting a lot of oaks, some cypress, just trees that we know do well around here," Wynn said. 

The city is treating some of its ash trees, but it's only a temporary fix. 

"We're treating them not to save them, but we know that the death curve is going to hit and we don't want a bunch of trees dying at once," Wynn said. 

Volk: You'll eventually get rid of the one behind us?
Wynn: Yes, unfortunately, we planted these about 15 years ago. 

The city is also working with the people who live there.

For example, residents with ash trees on the rights of way have the option to have their tree removed for free or pay for treatment out-of-pocket. 

"We have about 1,300 people that are treating trees on their property so that's a lot of trees we don't have to remove right now so that helps spread that out," Wynn said. 

Omaha Resident David Kay chose to treat his tree. 

"And it was an easy decision to make. We spent a couple hundred dollars and got it treated so we would be able to maintain the tree in our neighborhood," Kay said. 

The price is worth it for him. 

"My wife and I have always wanted an actual neighborhood that had a lot of tree cover and actually was an established neighborhood," Kay said. 

While the city has been preparing for this beetle for quite some time, the fight is far from over. 

"We're planning on a 10 year program. We're hoping we can get it done sooner than that, but we're anticipating 10 years," Wynn said. 

Wynn says they're hoping to keep up with tree removals. 

Be sure to visit our Emerald Ash Borer page for more on how people in KELOLAND are battling the bug. 


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