Bellevue preparing for Emerald Ash Borer

BELLEVUE, Neb. (KMTV) - There are over 44-million Ash trees in Nebraska but the Emerald Ash Borer is making its way to Nebraska, and once they are here many of those Ash trees will be gone.

Nebraska forestry experts said up to 15-percent of the trees in our communities are Ash trees but the future looks bleak for these trees to continue living once the Emerald Ash Borer comes into the state which could only be years away.

Bellevue resident Melissa Bees has four Ash trees in her yard, “They have sentimental value, they're beautiful, they provide shade for my house and my yard.”

But Bees knows the days in the shade are numbered, “Know the Emerald Ash Borer is making its way here, I know it’s inevitable.”

Bees is one of many Bellevue residents formulating a battle plan to fight the emerald ash borer--a beetle native to Asia that feeds on ash trees.

“The beetle will be fatal to the vast majority and will kill most of the ash trees that we have that are native to North America,” said Community Forester Specialist Graham Herbst.

According to Herbst, the beetle was just spotted in Union County, Iowa and is coming here. Communities will be faced with its lasting impacts.

“They are particularly dangerous when they are dead in short time, within a year or so within dying they can be very brutal, snap and fall on utilities, streets, people, cars so there's a danger aspect as well as the canopy loss and the environmental benefits that provides,” said Herbst.

A dangerous situation Bellevue city councilman Don Preister says his city needs to take a hard look at this problem and prepare right now for the emerald ash borer, “When a city doesn't have a budget set aside, for cutting down and removing 3-400 hundred trees just in the parks and then you add all the street trees, it can be a sizable commitment.”

A commitment Bees is ready to make on her own property once the beetle strikes her trees. “It's just one of those things where it's going to happen and I’m going to deal with it and make the best of it,” said Bees.

The Bellevue tree board is coming up with a plan to deal with this right now.

Omaha is already preparing for the borer's arrival focusing on keeping people safe.

Crews are mapping and removing thousands of ash trees near schools and playgrounds.

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