ST. LOUIS - The City of St. Louis started removing ash trees infected with the Emerald Ash Borer, a tiny but destructive beetle, Wednesday morning. Trees on the 5200 block of Waterman Blvd. were the first to come down, but crews have a lot more work to do.
Skip Kincaid, the city's Forestry Commissioner and Master Arborist, says some St. Louis neighborhoods will see a dramatic reduction of ash trees. Over the next couple of months, trees will be removed in wards 1, 2, 21, 22, 27, and 28. Around 13,000 ash trees total will be removed across the city over the next five years.
The ash trees slated for removal are weak and dying. The Emerald Ash Borer has destroyed hundreds of thousands of ash trees across the country and was recently discovered in St. Louis. Kincaid says keeping infected trees around would be a public safety risk, as they're more likely to break and fall, especially during storms.
That's why he says the city is taking precautionary steps now, with plans to use grant money and city funds to replant trees in the same spots where they were removed.
Removal work will continue through the fall, using the street sweeping schedule as much as possible to lessen the traffic impact on neighborhoods.