News

City to embark on tree replacement program

By Ray Spiteri, Niagara Falls Review

This photo was taken by the city's forestry department during some early emerald ash borer inspections.

This photo was taken by the city's forestry department during some early emerald ash borer inspections.

Niagara Falls has cut down about 1,800 of 3,600 trees that have been impacted by the emerald ash borer.

“Those are ash trees that are located either in the road allowance or in municipal parks,” said director of municipal works Geoff Holman.

“We’re about halfway from removing them … and we’ll be looking to replace them over the next couple of years.”

City council approved $150,000 in its 2017 capital budget to remove, restore and replant impacted trees.

“We’re going to continue identifying and removing those ash trees that are at the greatest risk to the community and then embark on a replanting program,” said Holman.

“Surprisingly we’re getting some push back from people who don’t want trees, so it will be interesting to see how we come back with some solution there because it’s important that we re-establish the urban canopy in the municipality and hopefully we’ll come back with a better solution.”

He said some people are not fond of having trees around their property due to leaf collection, branches that have to be picked up and tree roots getting into sewer laterals.

“There’s a number of things, especially in some of those areas where you have older residents who don’t want to take on that extra responsibility.”

From an environmental point of view, Holman said, the city is “always interested in trying to re-establish our urban canopy across the city.”

“It’s an important part, but from a risk-management point of view we’ve had a number of claims from street trees dropping limbs that take down hydro wires and things like that, which puts people out of power and affects them directly, so we’re trying to be a little more proactive. We’ve identified the ones that pose the greatest risk and try to deal with them first.”

According to Natural Resources Canada, the emerald ash borer was first detected in North America in 2002, but probably arrived on the continent at least a decade earlier. Native to Asia, the beetle has proven to be highly destructive in its new range. Since its arrival, it has killed tens of millions of ash trees and continues to spread into new areas, with considerable economic and ecological impacts.

Canadian Forest Service scientists estimate that costs for treatment, removal and replacement of trees affected by the emerald ash borer in Canadian municipalities may reach $2 billion over a 30-year period. Also expected to be significant are the ecological impacts of ash tree mortality on aquatic organisms, birds and understory vegetation, currently under study.

rspiteri@postmedia.com