FORT WAYNE – Fort Wayne will spend $33,000 to cut down 300 ash trees from city streets, but hundreds more of the insect-infested trees remain.
The city parks board Thursday approved hiring D&L Tree Care to remove 300 trees infested with the emerald ash borer.
The crew will remove about 75 trees from each city quadrant as part of the contract.
Chad Tinkel, city manager of forestry operations, said the trees were almost dead and could not be saved.
“They’re basically the worst of the worst,” he said while noting it wasn’t difficult to find 300 trees to remove.
The city has about 12,500 ash trees remaining along city streets, down from a peak of 14,000, parks Director Al Moll said.
He said the city plans to treat about 10 percent of those trees, but the rest will be left to become infested and die simply because the city does not have enough money to constantly treat the trees.
Tinkel said he expects the city to lose 1,850 ash trees across the city by the end of the year. He said he has already marked 200 more to be removed than will be under the contract. The city will hire a second contractor to remove the stumps of the ash trees.
City crews have been removing ash trees all year, but the city needed to hire an outside contractor to help with the glut of infested trees.
He said the cut trees will be chipped and the city will dispose of the remains. He said the chips will be small enough to prevent the ash borer from spreading.
After the trees are removed, Tinkle said, the city plans to plant new shade trees along the streets this fall.
“It’s a shame we have to spend this money, but I see no other choice,” board President Rick Samek said.