Government
2:45 pm
Mon December 10, 2012

Costs To Fight Tree-Killing Beetle Pegged In Millions Of Dollars

It is likely to cost $6.5 million over the next five years if Kansas City decides to fight the spreading disease that kills certain shade trees.

Kansas City's forester Kevin Lapointe discusses effects and costs of Emerald Ash Borer disease.
Kansas City's forester Kevin Lapointe discusses effects and costs of Emerald Ash Borer disease.

Calculations by a City department estimate it will cost nearly three times as much if nothing is done.

State and local studies figure the emerald ash borer beetle could kill thousands of  ash trees on public property in Kansas City and many thousands more  on private property. 

A report from the Kansas City Parks and Recreation Department and its urban foresters says, if not treated and contained, tree damage will be similar to the Dutch Elm Disease from decades ago when 3 billion trees died.

Forrest Decker, a Parks Department manager, citing the study, says,"We have about 400 thousand ash trees in Kansas City. Now those are not all on city property. We're estimating we have around 20 thousand. But if the EAB is left unchecked, it will take them all down."

The disease is not a threat to human health.

Decker said completely stopping the beetle's spread  hasn't succeeded in other cities.

Decker said treatment will cost $1.6 million a year for the first six years. And if nothing is done, it will cost the city $15 million over the first half decade to remove, dispose of and replace thousands of trees.

Some of the cost involves setting up disposal sites to handle felled trees that had the Ash Borer disease.

In an attempt to slow  the disease spread, a state and federal quarantine has been placed on wood products  from Clay and Platte Counties in Missouri and Wyandotte in Kansas.