Montpelier is symbolically preparing for the likely arrival of a highly destructive invasive species.
The City’s Tree Board is planning to remove a Green Ash tree on Main Street this week because it says many Ash trees will soon be killed by the Emerald Ash Borer. The invasive insect has decimated millions of Ash trees since it first appeared in the Midwest in the 1990s, and last year it was found for the first time east of the Hudson River.
Federal and state agencies mobilized in Vermont last week to conduct an exercise designed to slow its spread. State etymologists said if only a few trees are destroyed the state could just take them down.
Tim Schmalz with the Department of Agriculture says the state’s recommendation is not to cut trees preemptively.
"I think concern is certainly warranted," Schmalz said. "I don’t think alarm is, however. People should be aware that the pests are out there and are present in adjacent states and that they may show up in adjacent states; that they may show up in Vermont at some point."
But Montpelier’s Tree Board says it is still concerned about the insect since some of the city’s most prominent street trees are Green Ash. The Tree Board anticipates replacing other Ash trees in the near future so that the urban forest will be more diverse and less vulnerable from invasive insect pests and other diseases.