Denver, CO

Denver may spend $2 million to save trees from emerald ash borer

David Heitz

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The emerald ash borer.Colorado Department of Agriculture

By David Heitz / NewsBreak Denver

(Denver, Colo.) A Denver City Council committee is set to award three contracts Tuesday for almost $2 million to fight the emerald ash borer, a ravenous beetle.

The Land Use, Transportation and Infrastructure Committee likely will vote in favor of the contracts, which are on the consent agenda. Items on the consent agenda are considered routine. Tru Green Limited Partnership, Tiger Tree Inc. and SavATree LLC each would receive a contract for $650,000.

“Denver has an estimated 330,000 ash trees, a large and important portion of the city’s urban tree canopy,” according to the staff report. “Emerald ash borer has the potential to destroy more of Denver’s urban forest than any other disease or pestilence in history. Loss of these trees will have adverse economic, environmental, and social impacts on the community.”

No emerald ash borers in Denver yet

So far, none of the insects have been found in Denver. But the emerald ash borer did appear in Colorado in 2013, according to the Emerald Ash Borer Information Network. “Preventive ash tree treatments have been very effective in other regions of the country with emerald ash borer infestations,” according to the report. “The Office of the City Forester has identified significant ash trees within park areas and public rights-of-way that have been, and continue to be, treated to prevent infestation.”

Emerald ash borer treatments involve injecting emamectin benzoate into the tree trunks. The protection against the insects is temporary.

Weather permitting, the contractors would treat the trees from May through October.

‘A matter of time’ before Denver sees ash borer

The City and County of Denver with partners runs a website, www.BeASmartAsh.org. “One in six trees in Denver are ash trees and, if we do nothing, it’s just a matter of time before they’ll all be devoured by the emerald ash borer,” according to the website. “But who wants to be a Debbie Downer when you can Be a Smart Ash?”

The site explains everything from how to plant an ash tree to how foresters apply pesticides to the trees. “The Be A Smart Ash campaign, launched in May 2016, aims to actively educate and enlist the help of City and County of Denver residents in the process of identifying, treating and replacing ash trees both now and over the course of the next 15 years,” according to the site.

Online map of ash trees

The website explains the treatment plan for ash trees on the public right-of-way. It even provides a link to an interactive map that shows which trees have been treated citywide and which ones will be treated soon.

“If your tree is scheduled for treatment this year, you can expect a qualified crew of tree care professionals to perform a trunk injection treatment free,” the website explains.

Denver residents can even apply for a free tree on the website.

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I have been in the news business more than 30 years, spending much of my career at some of the best local newspapers in the country. Today, I report on Denver City Hall, homelessness and other topics for NewsBreak, much like I did in my twenties covering Newport Beach, Calif. for the Daily Pilot. I consider myself a lucky guy to still be doing what I love after so many years.

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