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Everyone loves trees, but not when they fall down

Everyone loves trees, but not when they fall down Everyone loves trees, but not when they fall down

By Ginna Young

Cornell is looking a lot more bare of trees lately, which has some residents upset, but it’s something that has to be done, now that the emerald ash borer (EAB) is present. The EAB infests ash trees and is thereby decimating forests in Wisconsin, and Cornell is not immune to that.

The city has a tree management plan that they follow, which was devised in 2016, by a forester.

“They laid out our tree population, and how many we had of each genus and species,” said city works superintendent Derek Braun.

According to the plan, a city should have only 5 percent of a species and 10 percent of a genus; Cornell had over 19 percent of ash alone.

“Hopefully, we never get a maple-type one (infestation), because it’s 40 percent of our population,” said Braun.

There are treatment options, but it’s not guaranteed to work, with a $100 price tag for a 14-inch tree, per season. That adds up to $5,000 a year, indefinitely.

“And then you come into the dynamics of the chemicals,” said Braun.

With the risk of potentially contaminating groundwater, it was decided to simply remove the 188 ash trees from out of the 1,000 in their jurisdiction. The plan called for a certain amount to be cut down each year, but with a mild winter and time to actually delve into the tree situation, the city works department realized the situation was more dire than they realized.

“When we started cutting on them, we found the death to be a lot more substantial in the trees that we thought,” said Braun.

Once infected with EAB, in about six years, a tree will be dead. Keeping safety in mind above all else, the city has removed quite a few trees this year alone. If left unattended, the entire tree or limbs could snap off, taking power lines with them.

They could also fall on a person walking by, on a parked car or on a house.

That doesn’t mean Cornell won’t have trees, as the city intends to replant many of them, but in a more responsible manner, choosing varieties that don’t grow as high into power lines and by picking


Stumps serve as a sobering reminder of the role the emerald ash borer is playing in the removal of trees within the Cornell city limits. Once a tree is infected, it might be saved with a pricey application of chemical treatments, but if left unattended, in a handful of years, the tree will die.

Photo by Ginna Young