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Samuel Hoffman / The Journal Gazette
Toriah Stallings, 3, and Lynda Fields, both from St. Henry's Head Start, plant a honey locust tree on St. Henry's Lane on Friday.

Tree City stewardship: Coping with ash borer devastation

Verbatim statement issued Friday:

Mayor Tom Henry was joined by residents of the Hoevelwood Civic Neighborhood, Trees Indiana, Parks & Recreation Director Al Moll and Manager of Forestry Operations Chad Tinkel as they celebrated Arbor Day in the Hoevelwood neighborhood today.

Mayor Henry announced that Fort Wayne has been named a ‘Tree City USA’ for the 21st year in a row. This designation was earned for tree canopy stewardship and a continued commitment to a green city. In addition, Fort Wayne earned a Growth Award from the National Arbor Foundation for a higher standard of forestry management of the City’s 80,000 trees. Fort Wayne is ranked #2 in the state for tree planting. To celebrate, several ceremonial trees were planted in the Hoevelwood Neighborhood to replace Ash Trees that were lost due to the Emerald Ash Borer infestation.

“We need to continue our responsibility to be good stewards of this natural resource, especially now when we’re faced with the devastation of losing 25% of our City’s trees to the Emerald Ash Borer,” said Mayor Tom Henry. “Trees add to the quality of life here. They enhance the beauty of our community and make Fort Wayne a desirable place for businesses to locate and for families to thrive. And the significant economic and environmental benefits of our urban canopy, such as energy conservation, stormwater runoff reduction, an increase in property value, and an improvement in the quality of the air we breathe, are priceless.”

Director Moll updated the plan to replace trees infested with the Emerald Ash Borer insect.

The City is currently undergoing a safety audit of all the ash trees to prioritize those trees that need to be removed first. Ash trees will be removed this year only if they are dead, have severe dieback, or pose a high risk to the safety of the public, the property, or the street. Those identified trees will be marked with a white dot at the base of the tree. Home-owners will be notified if their tree will be removed this year and they will also receive a second notification the month their tree is scheduled for removal.

There will be two separate crews – a tree removal crew and a stump grinding crew. Stumps will not be ground the same day the tree is cut down. The crew that removes the stump will also place top soil and grass seed in the bare area.

Approximately 1,500 street trees will be replaced in the fall. It will take a several years to replace them all. But citizens have the option to participate in the tree-match program by paying $75 for half the cost of the tree. The City will pick up the matching $75. Applications and a list of hardy, insect and disease resistant replacement trees are on the Fort Wayne Parks & Recreation website: www.fortwayneparks.org.

“Several neighborhood associations are taking the initiative to find ways to replace their own trees. Some are having fundraisers,” said Director Moll. “The Wildwood Neighborhood was the first to step up. Covington Reserve and Southwood Park followed (suit)and many more are exploring ways to replace trees, and in some cases treat the trees that can be saved.”

Additional information about Fort Wayne’s public tree projects and EAB program can be found at www.fortwayneparks.org

More information about Tree City USA can be found at www.arborday.org/TreeCityUSA. The Arbor Day Foundation is a nonprofit, environmental, and education organization of nearly one million members, with a mission to inspire people to plant, nurture, and celebrate trees. More information on the Foundation and its programs can be found at www.arborday.org.

What are you doing to plant trees and/or combat emerald ash borer?

Share your story and photo with We're Digging It readers at garden@jg.net. Photos should be JPEG attachments.

Journey through gardening season with Rosa Salter Rodriguez (feature writer) rsalter@jg.net, Anne Gregory (Web editor and writer) agregory@jg.net, Frank Noonan (copy editor) fnoonan@jg.net and Cathie Rowand (photographer) crowand@jg.net.

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