Marathon County officials take steps against destructive beetle - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Marathon County officials take steps against destructive beetle

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MARATHON COUNTY (WAOW) -

The Emerald Ash Borer is a tiny beetle that does a lot of damage.

"They'll go to a tree, lay eggs on the bark and when the eggs hatch they form a larva. That larva moves around just under the bark and it eats that material under the bark," Parks, Recreation and Forestry Director Bill Duncanson explained.

That material is what transports water and nutrients to the tree. Without it, the tree dies.

"There's no cure for it," Duncanson said.

So far this deadly insect is in 13 counties in Wisconsin. Marathon County is not one of them. But officials say it's only a matter of time.

"There's no known way to stop it at this time," Duncanson said.

That's why county officials say they've developed a plan, "we're taking steps to reduce the number of ash trees that we have."

Forestry leaders say about 20% of the city's street trees are ash. So far, 750 have been removed.

"The trees we take are in poor condition or located in poor sites where the large trees don't have room to grow."

Of the state's 770 million trees about 5 million exist of public and private properties within cities and villages. The loss of these community ash trees will cost property owners and taxpayers.

"At $50 per year, with the number of trees we have, it would cost us about $11,000 a year to treat those trees," Duncanson said.

But how does the ash borer make its way to Central Wisconsin? County officials say it's the transportation of firewood.

"All it takes is one person trying to save a couple dollars on firewood to throw some wood in and bring it to our area and we've got it."

There's no telling when the Emerald Ash Borer will make its way to Central Wisconsin. But when it does, forestry leaders say they'll be ready.

For more information on the Emerald Ash Borer, click here: http://emeraldashborer.wi.gov

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