Village’s last ash to get the ax

Final victim of emerald ash borer on public property comes down as officials turn their focus to planting diverse variety of replacement trees

DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC WORKS Foreman Dan Helm stood beside the last ash tree in the Village of Saukville that was to be taken down this week. He said 970 trees were removed, which made up 37% of the village’s public tree population. Photo by Sam Arendt
Ozaukee Press Staff

The Village of Saukville’s Public Works crews were to cut down the last ash tree on public property this week.

“I would say in Saukville, ash trees are 100% gone from residents’ yards and public spaces,” said foreman Dan Helm, noting Saukville is one of the first communities to be ash free. 

Helm said the emerald ash borer beetle began infesting trees in Newburg in 2008 and quickly spread to Saukville.

“A lot of people can treat the trees in other communities, but it came to us so early that the treatments weren’t effective and they were really expensive,” he said. 

The Public Works Department has cut down 970 ash trees, which makes up 37% of the village’s trees in parks and along the streets.

Helm said the last ash tree to come down this week was on South Main Street, and now the department is planning to grind the remaining stumps and start replanting in fall.

In March, the Village Board amended its tree ordinance to specify the types of trees that will replace the ash trees. The village is seeking to replace the ash trees with alternative species like the European hornbeam tree.

“They’re going to be more diverse, and at the most we want to have one species be 15% of the total population,” Helm said. “That way we don’t have a new bug come in and we lose 35% of our trees.”

According to Helm the cost to replant a tree is about $300. The village is in the process of applying for grants to pay for the removal and replacement of trees. 

“Obviously, it would be a huge help for the whole process if we can get a grant. Because of budget reasons we’re only allowed to plant a certain number of trees a year,” he said. “We’re going to start planting this fall, but most of that will be done in 2019.”

Currently, the Public Works Department has 330 stumps to grind before it can begin replanting.

“Some of the trees have been dead for so long that they’re starting to break apart,” Helm said. “Our priority is to get them all down before we start planting anything else.”

Helm said residents can help the village by donating a tree and the Public Works Department will plant it for free on their property. 

“Some residents understand the huge burden with the amount of trees we have to replace so they are donating trees for the front of their houses in the parkway and we’ll plant them,” he said.



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Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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