MARENGO – A Marengo contractor this summer will assist the city with removing ash trees heavily infested by the emerald ash borer beetle.
The City Council this week approved a $13,980 contract with Marengo-based J.W. Hellyer and Sons to remove 16 dying ash trees that are too large for the public works department's equipment.
The company will start removing the trees, scattered throughout the city, in mid-July, said Public Works Director Jayson Shull.
The department has identified 105 total infested ash trees that need to be removed. Public works staff will remove about 40 of them this year, while ComEd will be responsible for removing dying ash trees surrounded by utility wires.
Next spring, the city will try to replace 75 of the ash trees removed this year, Shull said. Unlike neighboring communities, Marengo does not have a cost-sharing program that asks residents to contribute toward the replacements.
"The rate of decline is outpacing our ability to replace," Shull said. "However, next year, we have slated about 75 trees for spring planting."
The emerald ash borer was first discovered in Illinois in 2006. The green, metallic-looking beetles feed on the inner bark, cutting off nutrients and water to ash trees, which are native to Illinois.
The beetle first arrived in the United States in 2002, likely on cargo ships or planes carrying wood materials from Asia, according to the Illinois Agriculture Department.