Area park departments working to limit damage done to ash trees by Emerald Ash Borer

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ST. LOUIS (KTVI) - Some of the baseball bats used by Major League All Stars are made from trees being killed by the Emerald Ash Borer.  Louisville Slugger says it’s been keeping a close eye on ash trees near the New York, Pennsylvania border for years.  The company estimates it has enough of an ash supply to meet baseball bat demands for the next 12-20 years.

Local horticulturists have been warning about the Emerald Ash Borer for the past several years.  The beetle has killed hundreds of millions of trees in North America.  The insect’s presence has been confirmed in more than a dozen states including Missouri and Illinois.

The Emerald Ash Borer was spotted in St. Charles County in 2014.   The St. Charles County Parks Department has been planting smaller trees in the area of ash trees to make up for the expected loss.  The county estimates it has 104 ash trees in its park system.

St. Louis County has identified 1,063 ash trees in managed areas of its parks.  454 are smaller and can be removed if they show symptoms of the Emerald Ash Borer.  439 are considered to be medium in size.  Park forestry crews have already begun moving those trees as symptoms appear.  170 are considered to be large trees.  Park forestry crews and/or the county’s hazardous tree removal contractor will remove those trees as symptoms occur.

Some of the county’s ash trees will be treated, a process that’s administered every other year.

Jim Cocos is the manager of the Horticultural Division at the Missouri Botanical Garden said the insect can essentially starve a tree to death.

“The tree is unable to move water up and down the tree, nutrients up and down the tree,” said Cocos.

He said treating a tree every couple of years is an option for homeowners.  He said if it’s not treated, it could be a good idea to have ash trees removed before they get too big and too expensive to remove.

“They get so brittle they can be difficult for the tree company to remove them,” said Cocos.  “It’s a little bit more of a dangerous removal.”

He said one way people can help prevent the spread of the Emerald Ash Borer is to not move firewood across state lanes.   It’s one way the beetle is believed to have spread to other parts of the country.

For more information about the Emerald Ash Borer go to:  http://www.emeraldashborer.info/.