Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Viillage Government vs. the Wilmette Canopy

One of the knottiest problems in the Midwest is the destruction of the Ash Tree Canopy by the Emerald Ash Borer. Around 20 Million Ash Trees are dead and dying in Michigan, Ontario, Indiana, and now Illinois. The Village where I live, Wilmette, has come up with the arboricidal policy of removing the Ash Trees from the public boulevards, before the trees are infested with the Ash Borer. Yes, that is right, the Village is killing the trees, the canopy?

In January, (This from the Tribune) Wilmette revealed its $2.5 million plan to remove and replace all 2,855 of its public ash trees by 2012. This only would apply to Ash Trees on Public Property. Yes, the Village will spend $875 to remove the Canopy from Wilmette. The trees on private property would still get infected, as the Ash Borer is not particular about public or private property, but residents would not get tree cover from the boulevard trees.

One of the reason the North Shore of Chicago is appealing to residents is the tree cover of the area. Given this area has been a suburb since about 1900, many of the trees planted over the farmland are 100 yrs + in age, giving a genuinely leafy ambiance to the leafy suburbs.

Of course the leafiness appeals to spendthrifts, who have a native home in Village government, which has never been bogged down by arithmetic calculations. Fortunately, a Glenview Tree Service made a mass mailing to North Shore Residents, slamming the arborcide, and offering to innoculate trees for around $150. So there is an offer outstanding to innoculate trees for 1/5 of the costs of removing trees, maintaining the canopy, and keeping one of the leafiest suburbs in the US-leafy.

Please correct me if I am wrong, but isn't the village destroying a huge natural resource without cause?

The photoshot from Microsoft Terra Server of the Wilmette Canopy.
Update: Here is some more info gathered via a conversation with a few altogether helpful Village employees.
1) The Village Arborists are only cutting down diseased trees
2) The budget is there to cut down all Ash trees
3) The only thing stopping the arborists from cutting down all the ash trees (healthy or diseased) is the common sense of the arborists. The directive is to eliminate all the trees in 6 years, regardless of the health of the tree.
4) There are treatments out there for preventive innoculation, and treatement of diseased trees. The Village, in general is not using these treatments.
5) The Village Government (not the foresters) would rather cut down trees than innoculate.
How about a test plot for innoculation of say...all of Gilson Park?
More Wilmette Ash Boer here

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The concrete jungle at Ridge and Lake is enough evidence to see that good intentions can go bad. The "public" was sold a bill of goods, except this one had a real (tax) bill attached.

Are residents who really care about the environment thinking that saving this enclosed postage stamp in Wilmette did anything to help the broader environment? I hope not. Are residents even aware that 2 milllion dollars were allocated from an open lands trust fund (government money) to help purchase the park? That's right, in addition to our tax money over the years up $25 million, we had the gaull to ask for $2 million to help us.

Those who pursued this money should be ashamed. The same amount could have purchased huge tracts of land that actually connected habitat or saved a river bed anywhere else in Illinois. Instead our then state rep sought to boost his popularity with the enviro crowd and promised and delivered these monies. I am certain that those who wrote the act never, ever, intended Wilmette residents to use one of the biggest grants made from this fund to purchase one of the smallest parcels. The list of awardees is available from the governor's office. If you really want to uncover why we are in such a mess in our federal, state and local funding it is because of initiatives like this one that get known by a few and, therefore, sent in their direction. The insult of the new park and subsidized living was enough (and deforestation that ensued), to think we accepted additional government funds is gross. It was and remains our own fault for not having leadership to ask hard questions. Furthermore to have a board enlightened to the potential development of the property and the necessary deforestation to put in the undergroung parking. Duh. We should have seen it coming. Instead a clean cut was made to enable the concrete and concrete and concrete to be poured.

Now a canopy, designed with protractors to ensure we all look the same. Is it true there are about 5 trees to choose from when calculating "canopy?" And what of the next pest to wipe out 1 or 2 of those choices? What then? A new law, another ordinance. For goodness sake we can't even agree to build new condos on Green Bay Road close to transportation, thereby saving energy. What is it that we are after?
Looking forward to new leadership.