ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI) - The city of Maryland Heights is taking steps to try and mitigate the damage coming from the emerald ash borer. The invasive beetle is believed to be responsible for damage to ash trees throughout the area. Damaged trees are expected to eventually die. Maryland Heights is replacing the trees in hopes of heading off a day when all the ash trees die at once.
"They could fall on cars. They could fall on people. They could fall on somebody's house," said Steve Schenck, Maryland Heights Public Works operations manager. "We want to be proactive and try and remove the worst of the trees as we move along."
Schenck says the city studied whether using treatments to protect the trees would be more cost-effective than replacing them. They also looked into whether a combination of treatments and replacements would work. In the end, removing and replacing ash trees with different trees made the most sense.
"If we were to treat trees, we would never be able to stop treating them," said Schenck. "So it's very expensive to do over a long term."
The city has removed more than an estimated 200 of the 877 ash trees on city property. The presence of the emerald ash borer has already been confirmed in St. Charles County. We've reported in the past on ash trees on the arch grounds threatened by the beetle.
The process of replacing the ash trees along the processional walks of the Arch grounds is scheduled to begin either Friday or sometime next week. Officials say the trees will be replaced with London Plane trees, a hardy, disease resistant species that is expected to thrive.
Arborist Daniel Moncheski works with Hansen's Tree Service. He advises anyone with an ash tree to check with an expert or a reputable company to come up with a plan that could include treating the tree, keeping it or having it removed.
"We're probably 2 years into this," said Moncheski. "At about year seven or eight we're going to see a large death of ash trees that have gone untreated."
More information about the emerald ash borer: