Indy moves to help ash tree population

INDIANAPOLIS - Much-needed aid was dispatched this week to Indianapolis' beleaguered ash tree population.

The city's ash tree population remains under attack by the Emerald Ash Borer, a native Asian pest that is 100 percent lethal to the species.

To combat the threat, the Department of Public Works, through the Legacy Tree Project, will treat 200 ash trees in several city parks.

"The treatments are expensive," said Scott Manning. "And we're fortunate to have the ability to treat 200. Citywide, ash trees represent 20 percent of the city's tree canopy. It's a significant number of trees, so we have to be selective and treat when we have the most impact."

Beyond the ash tree, public works has undertaken an inventory of the city's total tree population as it exists in the public right of way. The study will determine the number of trees, their species, and their existing condition.

The city says understanding the trees' number and condition will help manage them.

"One thing we can do is figure out the environmental benefit that our trees are providing," said Nate Faris of Keep Indianapolis Beautiful. "There's some easy calculations we can make to determine how much of the carbon footprint they help with and determine how much they benefit the city."

Over the past seven years, Keep Indianapolis Beautiful has planted more than 40,000 trees across Indianapolis – trees that are native to the area and have adapted to the climate. The organization also has a goal of planting another 60,000 trees.

Public works says it's important for them to know the condition of the city's urban forest as well.

"It's very valuable for them in terms of assessing public safety risk and looking at the overall health of the system and managing it and looking for opportunities to plant new trees," Faris said.

The effort to take inventory of the city's tree population, paid for with grants from the state and U.S. Forestry Division, will take several more months.

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