State sacrifices 12 million ash
With beetle battle lost in Detroit area, containment is
DETROIT - After a two-year battle between southeast Michigan
and an Asian tree-munching beetle, the bug won, ending
any lingering hope that the area's 12 million ash trees
somehow may be saved.
The focus now shifts to a $43 million effort preventing
the emerald ash borer from spreading throughout Michigan.
State officials are apologetic, but said the Detroit
area must be sacrificed to save the rest of the state's
700 million ash trees.
Thirteen Michigan counties in southeastern and mid-Michigan
have been quarantined since the ash borer was discovered
in the state in May 2002, including Ingham County. And
earlier this month, about 13,000 ash trees were marked
for destruction in Delta Township.
"We're trying to minimize the damage and prevent
it from spreading to the rest of the state, Great Lakes,
Canada and the rest of the continent," said Sara
Linsmeier-Wurfel, spokeswoman of the state Department
of Agriculture. "People are watching. We have to
Dan Wyant, the state's agriculture director, signed off
last week on a two-step approach to stopping the neon
First, all ash trees will be removed within a half-mile
of infested areas in the Saginaw County town of Shields;
Delta Township and Potterville in Eaton County; Marshall
in Calhoun County; Wyoming in Kent County; St. Joseph
in Berrien County; and sites along the St. Clair River
in St. Clair County.
Later this year or next, the state will isolate the bug
by cutting a half-mile "firebreak" around southeast
Michigan, Linsmeier-Wurfel said. Surveyors are still determining
where to chop.
State inspectors spent much of the past year trying to
determine how far the beetle has advanced. They have examined
campgrounds, nurseries and other places where infested
wood might have been taken.
Most of the ash tree removal should take place before
mid-May, when adult ash borers are expected to begin flying
and depositing eggs on previously uninfected trees.
The agriculture department will work with local officials
and residents before marking and removing trees.
Ironically, southeast Michigan is vulnerable to the beetle
because ash trees were planted as replacements to trees
lost to Dutch elm disease, Linsmeier-Wurfel said.