Dozens of dying ash trees at Midway Plaisance to be replaced

Mounds of mulch mark the spots where the ash trees were removed on the Midway. -Spencer Bibbs
Mounds of mulch mark the spots where the ash trees were removed on the Midway.

-Spencer Bibbs

By JEFFREY BISHKU-AYKUL
Staff Writer

The Chicago Park District will replace more than 100 dying ash trees along the Midway Plaisance with new species next spring.

The city began felling 102 of the park’s ash trees last summer because of an infestation of emerald ash borer beetles, according to CPD spokesperson Jessica Maxey Faulkner.

“The trees will be replaced with [a] mix of mostly native shade trees with the goal that no single species of variety will make up more than 15 percent of the total trees in that park,” Maxey-Faulkner said in an e-mail. “Replacement trees include multiple species and [a] variety of maples, oaks, lindens, hybrid elms, ginkgo, hackberry, horse chestnut, buckeye, catalpa, honey locust, black locust, and others.”

The emerald ash borer beetle was first recognized in the U.S. in Michigan in 2002 and first spotted in Illinois in June 2006, in Kane County. The half-inch green flying beetle native to Asia threatens ash trees, where they spawn larvae that travel under the bark and prevent root water from reaching leaves.

Tens of millions of American trees have died because of the beetle since 2002, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. The beetle has been identified in 19 states in the Midwest and Eastern U.S.

Chicago’s approximately 85,000 ash trees account for 17 percent of its trees, according to the City’s Department of Forestry. About 10 percent of the city’s ash trees belong to the Chicago Park District, which has said it expects all of them to be infested by ash borer beetles within the next two years.

j.bishku@hpherald.com
Twitter: @jeffhba