The removal plan to combat the spread of the Emerald Ash Borer in the City of St. Louis began in 2015 and will take about seven years to complete. There are many Ash trees in our tree lawns (the space between the sidewalk and the street), which are the responsibility of the City’s Forestry Division to maintain. For many residents it was shocking to see a large number of these trees being removed on their blocks this month. The Division of Forestry’s contractor got to Shaw faster than they anticipated and residents were not notified that tree removal would be occurring on their block.
The following is information obtained by Annie Rice, 8th Ward Alderwoman-elect, and Stephanie Herbers, President of the Shaw Neighborhood Improvement Association, from Forestry staff.
The Division of Forestry is assessing Ward tree populations based on the 10-20-30 Rule for species diversity: a single species should represent no more than 10% of the urban forest, a single genera no more than 20%, and a single family no more than 30%. Ward 8 currently includes two species—green ash (comprising 12% of the inventoried population) and red maple (11%)—that surpass the 10% rule for species diversity.
The tree removals currently happening in the neighborhood are focused on Ash tree removal. If trees have orange or red colored dots, they are marked for removal. They are not removing all of the trees planned for removal in the Ward at one time, however this round was pretty dramatic, particularly on blocks with a high percentage of Ash trees. Forestry made decisions on tree removal based on a number of factors, including tree placement, if there were issues with its growth in the tree lawn, estimate of its lifespan, and if treatment would be effective. Removing trees while they are structurally sound, rather than allowing them to deteriorate, may be safer and more cost effective in the long run.
If the tree in front of your home has been marked for removal and you wish to personally take responsibility for treatment of the tree (i.e., cover the costs of treatment if the tree is treatable), you can communicate that to the contractor by placing signs on the tree, and contact Jerry Overmann at Forestry (314-613-7238) to tell him you want to take responsibility for the tree. You will be asked to complete a permit requesting to take control over maintaining the tree located in the tree lawn in front of your house. A description of this permit can be found HERE. Forestry staff will ultimately want to know what certified arborist you will be using and what chemicals you will be treating the tree with and may also schedule an assessment from someone on their team.
If trees on your block have green dots (placed on the curb or on the tree), that means they are Ash trees that were deemed good for treatment by Forestry because they have the best chance of survival and longevity and will be treated every two years. In a 2016 report about Forestry’s Ash tree removal strategy, it states: “Forestry Division is planning to treat about 1,000 ash trees [throughout the City] that are 13 inches in diameter and larger that are in good or better condition. This represents about 7% of the ash street tree population.”
The city is using Treeazin, an organic product that is injected directly into the tree to not leave any residue exposed to people or pets, and they treated 84 trees in the 8th Ward this past summer. The treatment is a 2-year process. They will likely want to come out and inspect your tree to make sure that it has not already been infected.
Replacement of Trees
Alderman Conway budgeted for replacement trees to be planted in the space of the removed trees in the 8th Ward budget. Some will be replaced immediately, others later this spring and fall depending on costs and funds available each fiscal year. There will be stumps until new trees are planted. They are selecting new trees based on site size and diversity of species. 3-4 ft tree lawns will get a middle sized canopy tree (e.g., Littleleaf Linden), 4-5ft tree laws will get a large shade tree, and larger will get an oak or something similar. While there have been a lot of Ash trees removed on several blocks, in the end this work will ideally help the overall tree canopy health, and introduce a greater variety of trees. If you get a new tree in front of our house, help it grow by watering it once a month.
If a tree in front of your home is not immediately replaced and you want to have control over which tree the city puts in your tree lawn and you would like to purchase it yourself (or get it through an organization like Forest ReLeaf http://moreleaf.org/), contact Forestry before you buy to confirm planting site, species, etc. They will want to make sure it is appropriate for the site and stays within their goals for tree diversity. Unfortunately we do not currently know the schedule of when and where new trees are being planted, so you may not be able to intervene before a new one is there.
Below are links to a tree assessment carried out by the City’s Department of Forestry in 2014, as well as a summary report for the 8th Ward. In the Excel file you can see their assessment of the condition of the trees. A large majority of the Ash within our neighborhood were rated in Fair or Poor condition.
8th Ward Summary Report (will open in new tab)
You can look at an interactive map with tree type and diameter info here: https://www.stlouis-mo.gov/…/ash-tree-project-map.cfm
Here is the Division of Forestry’s page on Emerald Ash Borer Information and Resources: https://www.stlouis-mo.gov/government/departments/parks/forestry/ash-borer/index.cfm