The emerald ash borer (EAB) has devastated nearly 2,600 ash trees in the village of Homewood, Illinois. However, Jim Tresouthick, a community forester and supervisor for 15 years, is well ahead of south suburban communities in handling the insect infestation.

In 2002, when the EAB was identified as a culprit, Tresouthick discontinued planting ash trees. In 2008, when it was clear that the insect had arrived, he began removal. Mayor Rich Hofeld said that Tresouthick’s aggressive plan was a little difficult to accept, but he was given the go-ahead and proved to be right.

With only 150 ash trees left to remove, Tresouthick is in the process of orchestrating the selection, inspection, and purposeful placement of between 42 and 80 species of trees hardy to the area. “My goal is to leave Homewood with as many urban-tolerant species as possible. We won’t plant something marginally hardy, but something that will be here for generations.”

“When a large number of trees of a single species are planted in the same area at the same time, it increases the potential for die-off and sizable bare patches. Patches can become massive when trees are affected with an event as serious as the borer or the current drought,” he said. His urban forest plan will reduce the possibility of any large die-offs through landscape management heavy on uneven age planting. It will also add enough diversity to interrupt diseases and insect life cycles.

Tresouthick has a degree in horticulture and park management from Southern Illinois University, arborist certification and experience as a reforestation forester for the Cook County Forest Preserve.