Two years after launching the Legacy Tree Project to increase awareness about the destructive emerald ash borer (EAB), Valent Professional Products announced that Safari insecticide is effectively protecting more than 1,100 ash trees from EAB in seven participating Chicagoland communities.
In May 2012, an assessment of ash trees treated with Safari in the Legacy Tree Project shows a survival rate of over 95 percent, and that treated trees are thriving. By contrast, most nearby untreated ash trees are heavily infested or have died.
“We’re pretty tough when assessing the crown health of a tree. Anything with more than 20-percent crown death, we’re removing,” said Jim Bell, parks superintendent for the City of Elgin. “I don’t think we’ve lost more than 5 percent of our Legacy Tree Project trees. It’s been a very successful program.”
The results in Elgin are consistent with those in other cities across Chicagoland.
“It’s now very apparent that Safari is working — even in larger trees,” said Dr. Joe Chamberlin, regional field development manager for Valent Professional Products.
There are two different EAB treatment strategies. The first is long-term treatment to preserve ash trees for their remaining service life. The second is temporary treatment to stage tree removal. Staging removal spreads out the financial burdens associated with removal and replanting and avoids the significant public safety issues associated with standing dead trees.
The difference between ash trees treated with Safari and those left untreated is particularly stark in places like Naperville, a suburb southwest of Chicago, according to M. Skeet, a certified arborist working in the Naperville office of The Care of Trees, Inc.
“You can literally stand in the middle of a road, look at one side and see dead ash trees, and then look at the other side and see Legacy Tree Project ash trees alive and looking good,” said Skeet, who will oversee Legacy Tree Project applications in Naperville this spring.
Skeet said 100 percent of the 200 parkway ash trees treated with Safari in Naperville — trees ranging from 5 to 28 inches in diameter — remain healthy and intact today.
The success of the Legacy Tree Project has provided local arborists and city officials with an effective alternative to tree removal. Bell said the Legacy Tree Project has been so successful that Elgin has increased the number of municipal ash trees being treated from 200 to 2,000.
“We saw that we might be able to assist and save some trees with this program, and we’ve carried that forward,” Bell said. “The treatment option gives a longer time frame to address the future of these trees at minimal cost.”
When EAB was first discovered in Elgin, Bell said, “The only option we had was removal.”
“At that stage, you were removing what appeared to be healthy trees,” Bell added. “The public outcry over removing 7,000-to-10,000 healthy-looking trees is not a pleasant situation to put a forester in. The Legacy Tree Project allowed us to undertake a complete assessment of our forest and identify the healthiest specimens we want to save and target trees that are potential liabilities for removal.”
Safari has proven effective against EAB when applied as a soil injection or basal trunk spray. Due to its unique chemical properties, Safari is easily absorbed by trees and provides rapid control of EAB and many other pests that infest trees and ornamental plants. Safari is one of only three active ingredients registered for control of EAB by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and proven effective in U.S. university research trials.
Because Safari is taken up faster than less systemic products, ash trees can be treated after leaf out in the spring. This allows tree health to be assessed before deciding on whether a tree is a good candidate for treatment, or if it should be removed.
Cincinnati; Columbus, Ohio; Indianapolis; and Milwaukee are also participating in the Legacy Tree Project, and two-year results in those areas are also very positive.