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Huntley forced to close ash tree replacement programs

Published: Tuesday, May 28, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT

HUNTLEY – The Huntley Village Board soon will be asked to supply more money to a program that encourages residents to replace infested ash trees after an overwhelming response closed the program this spring.

Village officials saw the best response ever this spring to the 50/50 tree replacement and reimbursement programs.

Officials fielded nearly 200 orders from residents who either were reimbursed 50 percent of the costs to replace infested ash trees or paid a fixed price to have the village replace an infested tree.

Since the late 2000s, the pesky emerald ash borer beetle has wreaked havoc on the thousands of ash trees scattered throughout Huntley’s public parkways and has forced officials to devise ways to have residents replenish their neighborhood landscapes.

“I think people are really getting it now because they are seeing it happen on their block or in their neighborhood or subdivision,” said Barb Read, the village management assistant.

Read sent notices in March to the roughly 450 residents who saw ash trees removed last year along public parkways by their homes. The response of 200 people already has exhausted the village’s $20,000 budget for the reimbursement and replacement programs this year.

Village trustees will be asked in the coming months to approve additional funding to reopen the programs for the fall, Read said. The remaining residents who didn’t respond this spring and hundreds more who will see additional trees removed this summer would be notified if the program reopens.

The beetle’s infestation peaked last year in Huntley and forced officials to remove more than 500 ash trees, a removal rate that likely will continue into 2016, when the beetle’s infestation is predicted to subside.

The spring response to the heightened removals is encouraging for a village staff concerned that residents would choose to leave their neighborhood parkways barren.

“There are people replacing trees in every location that we have removed trees,” Read said. “It may not be 50 percent or 100 percent, but there are people who are replacing their trees.”

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