emerald ash borer

Photo provided by PWC.

A relatively prosaic and inexpensive Vienna Town Council agenda item on Jan. 7 revealed a harsh truth: An invasive insect called the emerald ash borer utterly has laid waste to the town’s ash trees.

The insects have killed every ash tree in town, Vienna Parks and Recreation Director Leslie Herman told the Council.

“It is a major impact,” said landscape and arborist supervisor Gary Lawrence, who added that the total amount of damage is hard to quantify. “Trees die quickly, become brittle and fall apart.”

Council members at the meeting agreed to spend an additional $15,000 with Ross Tree Expert Co. (doing business as RTEC Treecare), to prune and remove town-owned trees. The additional funds boosted by 50 percent the company’s contract, which only had $5,300 remaining from the original $30,000.

A major windstorm last spring and historic amounts of rainfall in 2018 caused many trees to deteriorate or die within the town, Herman said.

Council member Douglas Noble compared the insects’ devastation to another famous tree scourge from decades earlier.

“The emerald ash borer in this time period is the equivalent of Dutch elm disease,” he said.

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