Connecticut town overwhelmed by ash tree removal

By edited by Sarah Bunyea

Ridgefield has spent $140,000 since July removing the diseased trees.

Emerald Ash Borer

The town of Ridgefield, Connecticut, has been scrambling to keep up with the number of dying ash trees, according to an article by the Ridgefield Press. Four tree care firms are currently working to take down dead and dying trees victimized by the emerald ash borer infestation.

The emerald ash borer infestation is a problem all over the state and in much of the country. Not native to North America, the ash borer was found in the Midwest in 2002, believed to have come in wood shipped from overseas. It’s now been reported in at least in 35 states.

The Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station has said it expects Connecticut’s ash trees to be completely wiped out by the beetle in roughly the next eight years. Ash trees make up roughly 5% of the state’s forest, and a state map shows that in much of western Ridgefield, ash trees may make up close to 20% of the forest.

Because of the numbers affected, the town is dealing only with ash trees that pose safety hazards, mostly along roads.

Town officials don’t know many trees will be lost or how much it will cost, but they’ve spent over $140,000 on problem since the fiscal year began July 1.

With the cost of one tree removal around $2,500, First Selectman Rudy Marconi says in the article that the remaining budget isn’t enough to take care of the trees. Marconi said he is looking for more sources of money that could be used to take down infested trees, including state grant money.

Marconi also said there are some trees that have the borer infestation and will need to come down, but it’s not an immediate problem. It’s a three-year cycle from when they’re infected to when they have to come down.

In addition to the trees along the roads, town officials understand they’ll have to remove some trees at the golf course, although that will be more pressing when golf season reopens.

According to Golf Committee Chairman Ed Tyrrell, there are about 70 trees at the town course that are known to be infected with the ash borer. Of those, about 30 can be handled by the golf course maintenance staff, and about 40 will require a tree work contractor. There are five that are “priority one” since they are right near the parking lot where there’s a lot of traffic.