With the impending invasion of the Emerald Ash Borer, city leaders are recommending a $1.4 million, seven-year management plan to combat the green beetles.

The Emerald Ash Borer, a beetle from Asia that has been spreading throughout the eastern half of the country, is as far north as Stevens Point, and could be here soon. The beetle bores holes in ash trees, laying larvae that grow in the tree and burrow their way out, Parks Director Bill Duncanson says.

Roughly 20% of the city’s street trees are ash, Duncanson says. The city will initially cut down about 30% of the 5,200 ash trees, treating the rest with TREE-age, a compound that helps prevent the beetle from entering the tree (less costly than simply cutting down all the ash). The tree has a small hole inserted under the bark that foresters can inject the treatment into every two years, says city forester Blaine Peterson.

The Parks Department doesn’t have enough employees to handle the treatment, Peterson says, so UWSP forestry students under the guidance of trained applicators on the city staff could be employed to treat the city’s ash trees.

The city directed Duncanson to include an extra $200,000 in his Parks Department budget for 2017 to help fight the beetle. The seven-year strategy is expected to total about $1.4 million.