BY BRENDA K. JOHNSON
Yankton is preparing for the arrival of the emerald ash borer, even though the threat may be years away.
Todd Larson, director of Yankton Parks, Recreation and City Events, provides information about Yankton ash trees.
“In 2015, the City of Yankton had about 794 ash trees that were along our street right-of-ways, our parks, in our cemetery and in our trail system,” Larson said. Since that time, the city has taken down about 30 ash trees in the Yankton street right-of-ways, over 70 ash trees in parks and 11 in the cemetery.
“Our plan is to take down 100 ash trees for the next six years, if Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) isn’t here. Lisa Kortan (Yankton Urban Forester) has six EAB traps set up around the community in coordination with Yankton County that also has EAB traps. Hopefully we’ll know when the EAB is here by the traps,” Larson said. The traps are sent by the SD Department of Agriculture. They are set for May-August yearly to help find out if EAB is present in the state.
“We have six years until the ash trees are gone from city property and green spaces we maintain. As for private ash trees, nothing has been declared. If people want to look at having a tree specialist to treat their ash tree to keep it alive, they would do the math on it,” he said.
“If the ash tree lives to be 100 years old, the treatment needs to be done every other year, and will cost $150-$200 every two years until the tree is taken down,” he said. This cost is to be compared to having the tree taken down, stump grubbed out, and planting a new tree near the stump.
The responsibility for private trees lays with property owners.
“The city isn’t doing anything with private ash trees. We’re dealing with city ash trees. But a program is a part of the city budget discussion for 2019. Historically, Yankton has not had a reimbursement program to plant trees in the right-of-way. Now that we’re taking down trees in parks and along the trails, the city would replace trees on its property,” he said. Typically, the city doesn’t reimburse the private property owner for a tree adjacent to the right-of-way.
“Now we’re in discussion with the Yankton City Commission to have funding to share in the cost of a tree on the right-of-way. This might be not only for the trees taken down, but also for right-of-ways that don’t have trees, if the adjacent property owner would like to have trees,” he said.
A goal of the tree program, if funded, would be that no kind of tree is more than 20% of Yankton tree inventory. That would help maintain city tree diversity. Results of the city commission discussion are expected in the next two months.
The City of Yankton Emerald Ash Borer Response Plan May 2018 is found on the City of Yankton website at this link: http://www.cityofyankton.org/departments-services/parks-recreation/yankton-parks/urban-forestry