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City braces for emerald ash borer infestations

CHAMPAIGN -- The city is attacking the problem of little green bugs. The emerald ash borer has been spotted in the area.
CHAMPAIGN -- The city is attacking the problem of little green bugs. The emerald ash borer has been spotted in the area. The bugs take over ash trees and eventually kill them. WCIA-3's Lindsey Gorden has more.

They’ve been a problem in Champaign since 2002. That’s when they first showed up. The city is spending more this year than last to get rid of them.

They spent $45,000 last year and will spend $50,000 next year, all because of a tiny green bug. It’s easy to tell if a tree has been corrupted.

"Characteristics of that including, it's dying out and there are holes in it, or increase in woodpecker activity on the trees," said Kris Koester, a spokesman for Champaign Public Works.

They have more than 1,800 ash trees on city property. He says so far the infestation this year hasn’t been too bad because it’s early in the season.

"Of the total 105 that we've taken down, since the council approved this plan last September, only 11 of them had the infestation of the emerald ash borer," he said.

When they take the trees down, they have to take special precautions to not spread the bugs.

"When we take them down, we take them to the landscape recycling center. We identify them: 'these are infested.' There's a special process for getting rid of the wood that comes from that,” said Koester.

Champaign County is quarantined. They won’t allow any wood from ash trees to cross county lines. In Champaign, they no longer plant ash trees and residents aren’t allow to either. They don’t want it to spread and it can also be a liability.

"Where a strong wind my come through and knock it over, or something could happen where large limbs fall out of it and so that's why we went through the grading system to see, these are the ones that have to get taken care of first," said Koester.

He says the city has two ways to take care of infested trees; completely removing it costs several thousands of dollars, but it’s more effective than using chemical treatments.

"Knowing that this is happening and that the infestation can spread, we want to take care of that as soon as possible," he said.
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