JEFFERSON PARK — Determined to beat back the spread of a pest that is felling ash trees all over the Chicago, city officials announced plans to boost the city's tree budget by $2.7 million.
The money will allow crews from the Bureau of Forestry to trim an additional 15,000 trees, plant another 2,800 trees and finish injecting 35,000 parkway trees with chemicals designed to protect them from the Emerald Ash Borer, which may be smaller than a penny but has doomed hundreds of trees across the Northwest Side, officials said in a statement.
The additional funds will allow city officials to protect "the health and vibrancy of the urban canopy for years to come," said Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
Five tree trimming crews will be added with the funds, allowing the city to assign a team to focus on injecting the ash trees, officials said.
Last year, city workers trimmed more than 56,000 trees and expect to trim an additional 15,000 this year, officials said.
City officials added $2.6 million to the forestry department's budget in April 2013 to fight the emerald ash borer and add seven tree trimming crews.
There are approximately 580,000 trees along the city's streets and sidewalks, and nearly 85,000 of them are ash trees at risk of being infested with the Emerald Ash Borer, which eats trees from the inside out, leaving them brittle and unsteady.
The treatment lasts for three years, said Brown, at which point trees will require a booster shot.
In the 45th Ward alone, the emerald ash borer has claimed 400 trees, which the city is working to replace with species like lindens, maples and oaks that do not attract the pest.
Trees that have been infested by the ash borer have thin, yellow leaves, elephant skin-like bark and dead branches at their crown, officials said.
In 2013, the city vowed to treat all of the salvageable ash trees in the city's parkways with an injectable insecticide that needs to be used every three years. The cost to inoculate a tree is $46, compared with $1,000 to remove and replace a tree, city officials said.
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