MESSAGE FROM THE MAYOR

MAYOR TOM HENRYThe return of warmer temperatures last week made me think of Spring and the time when our City will again be green with a lush canopy of trees. Unfortunately a little beetle is killing many of the Ash trees that line the streets and boulevards of Fort Wayne. I’m committed to maintaining this hallmark of our community by investing in a street tree replacement program.

Around our City, over 1,900 ash trees have already been lost to the Emerald Ash Borer. Sometimes a tree that is being affected by this small Asian beetle does not look like it is dead or dying. But these little bugs can be eating away inside the tree weakening the trunk and branches. A dead, or even a weakened tree, threatens the safety of our citizens. That’s the reason that the trees must be removed – to avoid possible property damage or injury that could be caused by falling limbs.

Where there is one dead or dying Ash tree, there will soon be more since the insects spread. Emerald ash borer (EAB), Agrilus planipennis Fairmaire, is an exotic beetle that was discovered in southeastern Michigan near Detroit in the summer of 2002. The adult beetles nibble on ash foliage but cause little damage. The larvae (the immature stage) feed on the inner bark of ash trees, disrupting the tree’s ability to transport water and nutrients. Emerald ash borer probably arrived in the United States on solid wood packing material carried in cargo ships or airplanes originating in its native Asia.

Ash trees can be treated to resist the EAB, and we are treating approximately 1,000 each year, but many trees are already dying and will need to be removed. Fort Wayne’s current inventory of 12,000 Ash street trees is expected to be eliminated in less than 10 years. Keep in mind we are not talking about Ash trees in our Parks. The trees that will be removed are located along our streets where they potentially pose a traffic hazard if they should fall.

My administration is committed to resolving this issue and based on recommendations from my Tree Task Force we have developed a plan to replace our street trees. I’ve committed to spend $900,000 to replace 1,200 trees this year. This is in addition to funds that have already been budgeted by the Parks and Recreation Department to deal with the accelerated loss of trees brought on by the 2008 ice storm and the 2010 drought.

Our historic tree canopy is important to our community and our neighborhoods, and it’s worth preserving. The immediate, short-term answer is to remove dead trees and stumps for public safety reasons. The long-term solution is tree replacement to maintain our urban canopy. This action is part of a 10-year process that, I hope, will yield other funding sources.

I you would like to have more information about how you can fund a tree replacement, please call the Department of Parks and Recreation at 427-6400.

Tom Henry - Fort Wayne Mayor

A lifelong Fort Wayne resident, Mayor Thomas C. Henry is committed to public and community service. He was elected to his first term as Fort Wayne's Mayor November 6, 2007. Mayor Henry authors the "Message from the Mayor" column. > Read Full Biography > More Articles Written By This Writer