Some 20,000 trees will be lost when the emerald ash borer hits Aberdeen, according to Mayor Mike Levsen.
To best combat its spread and lower the economic impact it will have on homeowners, the City Council and several members of the tree service industry have engaged in extensive discussion during City Council meetings since the ordinance was introduced March 5.
The second reading of the ordinance was tabled last week when council members couldn’t come to an agreement about proposed amendments related to the transportation of ash wood within city limits.
Several amendments were adopted, including language that allows existing tree services to be grandfathered in to treat the emerald ash borer.
A new amendment to the ordinance states that it is unlawful to store, dispose or transport any ash wood within city limits, and it must be disposed of at designated collection sites outside of city limits.
“The whole goal behind this section is to slow the spread of emerald ash borer throughout our community,” said city forester Aaron Kiesz. “Limit the wood that comes in that might be infested is the only way we’re going to slow the spread from one side to the other.”
The city is likely to be infested within two to three years after the first sighting of the beetle, according to Kiesz. When that happens, trees will be falling at an almost constant rate.
“We can’t allow potentially infested ash wood into our community,” Kiesz said.
Ray Bower with Bower’s Tree Service spoke during the open forum period of the meeting to inform the council that he is on board with the new ordinance.
“When the disease gets found, we’ll supply our customers within city limits with other types of hardwood,” he said.
Keith Miller, owner of K and A Log Furniture, has opposed certain aspects of the ordinance on several occasions. He expressed the idea that during the specified “non-flight” period of the insect from Sept. 1 to May 1, people should still be able to supply firewood from ash trees.
“During that time, with no beetle movement, there shouldn’t be a problem as long as firewood is consumed by May 1,” Miller said.
Kiesz responded that monitoring whether or not individual homeowners had used up all their firewood by May 1 would be difficult. The city will be conducting surveys and marking trees that should be cut down.
“If we spot someone who hasn’t cut down a tree we marked, we’d go back make sure those trees are disposed of properly,” Kiesz said. “We’re not driving every backyard looking for firewood.”
At the end of the discussion, the council agreed to vote on the second reading of the ordinance. It passed with a 7-1 vote.
Since the ordinance has been substantially adjusted, the council will move to a third reading next week where they will vote on final adoption.
The street tree management plan and emerald ash borer management plan can be viewed on the forestry division’s website at https://bit.ly/2GWBUUI.
In other action, the council:
- Approved a community event permit for the Yelduz Shrine Circus April 18 through April 20 at the Civic Arena.
- Approved a bridge reinspection program resolution for bridges on Eighth Avenue and Tenth Avenue.
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