The DNAinfo archives brought to you by WNYC.
Read the press release here.

Emerald Ash Borer Beetles Decimate Half-Mile of Trees on Midway Plaisance

By Sam Cholke | September 23, 2014 8:08am
 Emerald ash borer beetles are claiming large numbers of ash trees in Hyde Park.
Emerald Ash Borer in Hyde Park
View Full Caption

HYDE PARK — A half-mile of the tree-lined canopy on the Midway Plaisance has been destroyed by an emerald ash borer infestation.

The invasive Asian beetle has killed about 50 ash trees between Woodlawn and Ellis avenues, destroying half of a picturesque tree-lined path in front of the University of Chicago.

“Those trees along the Midway are an example of what happens when the infection starts,” said Jerry Levy, a master tree keeper and the steward of Wooded Island in Jackson Park. “There’s just no way of stopping it.”

Levy estimated the trees were 40-50 years old and it will take more than a decade to restore the damage.

“In five to 10 years it will start to create a decent canopy — but not what we had,” Levy said.

The Chicago Park District plans to chop down the trees and replant next year, spokeswoman Jessica Maxey-Faulkner said.

Large numbers of ash trees in the north end of Jackson Park also are being felled, and the infestation is moving closer to a small grove on Wooded Island that Levy is trying to protect from the beetle’s young.

The larvae of the beetle chew serpentine pathways through the green filmy layers of tissue that trees use to carry nutrients between leaves and roots, severing the tree’s main artery.

The effect is a tree with bare canopy and a green skirt of leaves around the base of the trunk as it tries to form branches where there is still a connection to the roots.

The Bureau of Forestry removed 19 infected ash trees in September along three blocks of 56th Street at the northern boundary of Jackson Park.

The forestry bureau inoculated 37,000 of the city’s 70,000 ash trees last year against the ash borer, according to Molly Poppe, a spokeswoman for the bureau, a branch of the city's Department of Streets and Sanitation.

She said Thursday that 90 percent of the ash trees treated in the last three years were still healthy.

In Hyde Park, many of the trees treated in 2013 now have only one or two green branches remaining, and Levy said it was a pipe dream to think they would be saved.

“They’re doomed,” Levy said. “From an economic view, the city doesn’t have the manpower to take them all down in one year, they want to spread it out over a few years.”

The city stopped planting ash trees in 2002 and is targeting areas hit by the ash borer for replantings with other trees.

For more neighborhood news, listen to DNAinfo Radio here: