PRESCOTT -- Pierce County has officially been bitten by the pesky emerald ash borer bug, joining St. Croix County and about 50 other Wisconsin counties in the fight, according to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.
The infestation was confirmed by U.S. Department of Agriculture July 31 in River Falls, sparking discussion for a plan of action in Prescott at an Aug. 12 Common Council meeting.
While River Falls is drafting ordinances addressing private property ash tree care, Prescott will be deciding at a later date which cost-effective actions the city should take in the wake of the beetle’s arrival.
“We’re going to keep an eye on it,” City Administrator Jayne Brand said at the Prescott meeting.
Cities and private property owners have a couple choices when deciding what to do with their trees, but infested trees should not be left until they are too brittle and dangerous to remove, according to Brad Johnson. He is regional urban forestry coordinator within the Wisconsin DNR Forestry Division and serves as the first point of contact for western Wisconsin counties dealing with the emerald ash borer epidemic.
Johnson said, “the idea is not to wait” when budgeting for and acting on ash tree care.
Prescott currently has 542 ash trees recorded on public property which would cost an estimated $195,000 to remove, according to a 2015 exploratory study done by University of Wisconsin-River Falls students. The study also reported tree treatment injections would cost the city upwards of $75,000 every two years.
Member Maureen Otwell said during the meeting it would be cheaper to remove some trees and treat trees that are desirable to keep.
Brand said the city will be posting notifications on its website for residents about this issue.
“As soon as any resident would happen to have any issues, they should let us know,” Brand said.