• John Jantak

Individual Senneville property owners will have to determine how to combat the EAB

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PHOTO BY JOHN JANTAK

Senneville council announced it will be the responsibility of each individual property owner to determine the best course of action to take if the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) is spotted on ash trees on their land.

Senneville council announced it will be the responsibility of each individual property owner to determine the best course of action to take if the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) is spotted on ash trees on their land.

The issue was raised during question period at the Monday evening council meeting on August 24 when a resident asked if the town had a strategy to prevent the spread of the EAB even though the destructive and invasive insect has not yet been spotted in the municipality.

Mayor Jane Guest said the town has about 140 ash trees on its municipal properties based on an informal inventory and all other ash trees are on private land. Guest said it’ll be up to each property to decide how they will deal with the situation. Instead of treating infected trees, the town has implemented a tree replacement program as a better alternative.

“We added $10,000 to our annual budget each year for the next three years for a tree replacement program,” said Guest. “As far as all the ash trees that are on private land, we don’t have an inventory. There are probably hundreds and potentially thousands of trees. Council feels it’s up to the owners to take on that responsibility.”

District 2 Councillor Charles Mickie presented a grim assessment of the situation saying that even though a biological pesticide is being promoted as an effective method to prevent EAB infestation of ash trees, the trees will eventually become affected and die regardless of whether the trees are treated or not.

“Even if a tree is treated, it just a stop-gap measure,” said Mickie. “They will eventually all die. We had a very cold winter and it slowed down the EAB this year. Many of the insects died because it was so cold. If we have a warm winter this year it could worsen. We really don’t know what will happen. It’s like the Pine Beetle out west. There’s nothing you can do to stop them and the trees will die.”

Mickie said many of the ash trees were planted to replace Dutch elm trees that were decimated by Dutch elm disease during the 1970s and 80s. “I remember when I was a kid my parents had huge elm trees and they treated them but they eventually died. Basically people will be spending a fortune to keep their ash trees for three, four or five years longer, but they will die.”

It’s the prospect that the ash trees will eventually die regardless of the strategies that are presently used to combat the EAB that has prompted the town to proceed with its tree replacement program.

“What we’re saying is let’s start replanting now with multiple species so that there’s not just one kind of tree,” said Mickie. “The more variety of trees there are, the better off we’ll be. The problem is in neighbourhoods were there are many ash trees; that’s where the EAB is going to go.

“If you have a few ash trees you might be lucky and not be affected,” Mickie added. “It’s like anything – when there’s lots it’s great because it’s like a buffet but when there are only a few, it’s not as interesting.”

The town also didn’t want to compel its residents to unnecessarily spend money on a treatment that they say has yet to be proven effective. “We didn’t want to force our citizens, some of whom have hundreds of trees on their property, to spend upwards of $500 to treat each tree. No one has been able to put together a document that says if you treat your tree for three, four or five years, it’s going to last another 20 years. They just don’t know.”

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