Ottawa

Homeowners again offered cash to join battle against ash borer

The City of Ottawa and a local conservation authority are teaming up once again to recruit residents in their fight against the destructive emerald ash borer.

City, conservation agency offering financial incentive to replace infested trees

The invasive emerald ash borer beetle has few natural enemies to keep it in check. (Minnesota Department of Natural Resources/The Associated Press)

The City of Ottawa and a local conservation authority are teaming up once again to recruit residents in their fight against the destructive emerald ash borer.

For the second year in a row, the city and South Nation Conservation are offering Ottawa homeowners up to $500 per tree to remove and replace trees damaged by the invasive beetle. There's a 10-tree limit per participant.

The emerald ash borer was first detected in North America in 2002, and has since destroyed millions of trees including many in this region.

The ash borer gradually infiltrates trees, blocking the passage of nutrients from roots to leaves. It can take years for a tree to sustain serious damage, but homeowners will start noticing dead patches soon after the insects get down to work.

Damaged trees a danger

Early signs of damage include S-shaped marks and D-shaped holes in the tree trunk, while long-term damage can be more significant.

"[Infected trees] could fall down onto structures and homes, which can be hazardous to people and property," said South Nation Conservation's Ronda Boutz in a news release.

In 2018, the program replaced 469 trees infected by the emerald ash borer with locally sourced trees on private properties in Ottawa.

Tree damage caused by the emerald ash borer. (Kate Porter/CBC)

To qualify for the program, infested trees must be inspected by a certified arborist or registered forester, and must be removed and replaced by the same professional.

The replacement cost varies widely and depends on how difficult a tree is to remove, and on what size and species of tree is chosen to replace it.

Just like last year, the program is being offered on a first-come, first-served basis until funding runs out.

Residents can choose their own replacement trees, as long as they pick native species of a certain size. Applications for the program are available on the conservation authority's website.

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