Emerald Ash Borer leaves campus ash trees unscathed for now

In mid-October, Augustana students received an email from Rick Tupper, associate vice president of University Services, regarding ash tree removal.

Attached to the email was a map of the area bordered by Lake Avenue, 26th Street, Spring Avenue and 33rd Street. The map showed the ash trees that were to be cut down. Campus Safety asked that students not park in front of the trees so the tree removal company could access them.

“Apparently back in the day, when our neighborhoods were being built, they put ash trees in the boulevards,” Tupper said. “So a lot of those ash trees are now being cut down [because of the emerald ash borer].”

According to the United State Department of Agriculture, the emerald ash borer (EAB) is a beetle native to Asia that was first detected in the United States in 2002. The EAB infests all species of ash trees, resulting in death for the trees.

Once ash trees are infected, their leaves begin to thin out as the beetle chews through the tree’s xylum and phloem, which are responsible for transporting water and nutrients, according to the national EAB information website.

Most of the leaves will be dead within two years after EAB-infestation symptoms are first spotted.

Tupper said there are some ash trees on campus.

“I’ve talked to our grounds supervisor about that. They’ve reviewed the ones we have on campus, and right now we don’t have any that have needed to be taken down,” Tupper said.

While the grounds crew has a budget they use to maintain and replace trees, according to Tupper, groups like Augie Green and Augustana Sustainability have also made planting trees a priority.

Senior Elizabeth Petersen has served as Augie Green’s tree committee chair for the past three years. Petersen said the club doesn’t spend much and has money leftover from last year’s ASA allocation.

Tupper said that groups who want to plant trees work with the grounds crew to plant them in an area that works well.

But planting trees is not without its hurdles.

“They’re putting in sprinkler systems, so that creates a problem with where you can plant trees,” Petersen said.

There are also other areas that can’t be home to new trees. Petersen said tree planting is limited on the south side of campus because of the campus green, and areas close to the dorms and commons aren’t options due to future expansion plans.

However, planting trees — whether they’re in new places or replacing ones that must be taken down — is beneficial.

“[The trees are] not only pretty, but good for taking up the [carbon dioxide] that we all expel and make the air around our campus nicer to breathe,” Petersen said. “It’s practical as well.”

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