City hall is issuing a dire warning about the future of ash trees in Cornwall because it appears only a matter of time before an invasive species of insect sets up shop locally.
The emerald ash borer, a beetle native to Asia, has been decimating ash tree populations since the insect was first discovered in North America.
In some parts of the American Midwest there are millions of dead standing trees.
Coun. Elaine MacDonald suggested at a recent council meeting that the city should consider hiring at least a part-time person now to do an inventory of the ash tree population in Cornwall to get prepared for the looming infestation.
The hope, at least from the city’s parks and recreation department, is to hire a summer student next year to undertake that operation.
“In terms of a rapid response and being proactive, we should hire somebody now on a part-time basis… to get this inventory done,” said MacDonald.
But parks and recreation manager Christine Lefebvre suggested before a person is hired, consultations need to take place with the city’s environmental advisory committee.
“We have to do an inventory of how many ash trees we have in the community and where they are,” said Lefebvre.
Some emerald ash borer traps have been set up throughout the city to catch some of the insects – but so far they have been found empty.
But acting city CAO Stephen Alexander was quick to point out that doesn’t mean Cornwall is safe. He suggested “there’s no stopping” the insects from eventually making their way to the Seaway City.
Cornwall has $10,000 available to begin planting different tree species in the city and an education campaign is being planned too, to bring residents up to speed on the dangers of the emerald ash borer and how to determine if they’ve arrived.
Lefebvre told city councillors that many municipalities are sharing information on the subject, in an attempt to brace for the impending feeding frenzy.