An ash tree come down on Farmer Avenue April 1.

Ash trees are being cut down for a very good reason.

That’s the message Tomah Public Works director Kirk Arity wants people to know. He said the trees are coming down because they are hazardous due to the impact of the emerald ash borer.

“The emerald ash borer is going through the area, and the trees will die without any question,” Arity said.

He said there weren’t any good options for salvaging the trees.

“There is a treatment, but it is fairly costly, and most people have not opted to do any of that,” he said. “The trees are pretty brittle to a point where they’re getting to be a hazard. If we had a very bad wind storm, it would be a bad deal.”

This year Public Works has cut down over 250 ash trees, more than the department has cut down in the three years since removal began, Arity said.

“We’ve really tried to take as many as we can every year,” he said. “This year we’ve removed probably more than normal just because of timing, work load and weather − that’s why people are kind of noticing it more. This year we probably invested three to four weeks of time cutting and removing trees.”

Once a tree is cut down, the wood will be utilized in a number of different ways, Arity said. Some will be used as firewood, some will be ground up, and if the trees are big enough and healthy enough, wood will be donated to the Tomah High School woods class to be used for projects.

Property owners can request replacement trees through the city’s Parks and Recreation Department. To request a replacement, call Parks and Recreation director Joe Protz at 608-374-7445.

Trees are typically planted in early spring or late fall, but not all replacements can be addressed this year, Arity said.

“It’s kind of hit or miss,” he said. “(Protz) is working with his own budget and only has so much money per year ... but as he mentioned (at city council), he’s working with the Lions Club and some other (groups) that give funds for trees.”

The stumps of disposed of trees will be taken care of by Public Works, Arity said. He hopes to have them all removed this year, but some may have to wait.

“The only thing that would stop us would be a financial barrier,” he said. “I’m not sure exactly how much money it’s going to cost to grind 250 stumps ... but they’re not really bothering anything.”

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Meghan Flynn can be reached at meghan.flynn@lee.net.


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