Overland Park ramps up efforts to cut down damaged ash trees

Overland Park plans to cut down hundreds of ash trees throughout the city next year as it ramps up efforts at countering the impacts of the emerald ash borer. Catch

Overland Park plans to cut down hundreds of ash trees throughout the city next year as it ramps up efforts at countering the impacts of the emerald ash borer.

Catch up quick: The city is set to start a large-scale ash street tree removal and replanting program targeting trees in public right-of-ways that have been damaged by the invasive beetle species.

  • The city’s program will not include ash trees on private property.

If you didn’t know: The emerald ash borer — a small, metallic green beetle — attacks all species of ash trees by cutting off the passage of nutrients and water from the tree’s roots to its canopy.

  • The beetle’s larva drills into the bark of ash trees, feeding on the vascular tissues inside the tree over winter.
  • In the spring, the beetles leave the tree, but the damage to the tissue is already done and has lasting effects.
Emerald ash borer larva in Overland Park.
Emerald ash borer larva. Photo via Kansas City Parks and Recreation.

Why it matters: If Overland Park does not increase its efforts to remove ash trees proactively, the approximately 8,000 ash street trees left in the city will all eventually be killed off by the emerald ash borer, according to the city’s website.

  • City crews are currently able to remove around 500 ash trees annually, meaning it would take about 16 years to get to all the dying ash trees in the city.

Details: The new program calls for identifying neighborhood streets with ash trees on public right-of-ways and clear-cutting them.

  • The cut trees will then be replaced with new trees from the city’s approved street tree species list, which include various kinds of elms and oaks along with other varieties.
  • The city will target trees on public property that are generally in the space about 11 feet back from the curb, and grinding the stump.
  • New trees must be placed several feet away from the previous tree’s area in order to promote growth.
  • If there is limited space at the residential location, the city will plant a replacement tree at a public space, such as a park or trail.

Key quote: “While we never want to cut down a tree, we know this is a more efficient way to solve an inevitable problem,” city forester Bailey Patterson said in a statement. “The good news is that we’ll be replanting a more resilient species for every tree we take out.”

Other elements killing trees in Overland Park

The emerald ash borer is not the only thing damaging trees in Overland Park.

  • The Post reported earlier this year on a type of fungus called oak wilt that is killing some oak trees by clogging their vascular systems and depriving them of nutrients.