By Jacob Mathias
The City of Wisconsin Rapids is taking steps to combat the looming threat of the Emerald Ash Borer.
The EAB is an invasive species of beetle that first came to the United States in 2002 and made its first appearance in Wisconsin in 2008. The EAB causes damage in ash trees due to larval feeding, which restricts the ability for the trees to absorb their own nutrients.
The city’s Common Council approved applying for an urban forestry grant from the Department of Natural Resources to combat the EAB at a special meeting on October 27.
“They’re very concerned about the fact that the city hasn’t done some of the work to be prepared for the emerald ash borer problem so they really wanted the city to care about the issue and make sure that we don’t become a big bullseye without a plan,” said Mayor Zachary Vruwink.
The EAB has not been found in Wood County but is present in both neighboring Juneau and Clark Counties.
The grant, which city officials say has high potential to be awarded to the city, provides a 50 percent funds match toward tree inventory and EAB prevention. If awarded, the grant will first be used to hire a professional forester who can take an inventory of all publicly owned trees in the city.
“The most effective plans are ones done by practiced foresters that have experience putting these types of inventories together,” said Public Works Director Joe Terry.
Once an inventory is taken, a management plan can be made on how to prepare for the EAB including pesticide prevention and tree removal and replacement.
The city would be responsible for up to $25,000 of the possible $50,000 estimated for inventory and EAB prevention. City Finance Director Tim Desorcy said funds can be made available for the grant matching from existing grant monies and budget surpluses that may be available at the end of the year.
Having an inventory of trees not only helps determine how to handle any EAB treatment and prevention but also quantify the value of trees including energy savings and aesthetic value.
The next meeting of the Common Council is on November 17 at 6:00 PM in the council chambers at city hall.