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Onalaska hosts Tree Symposium to inform public of Emerald Ash Borer

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Onalaska, WI (WXOW) - ONALASKA, Wis. (WXOW) - The Emerald Ash Borer beetle is spreading in Wisconsin, and it has already affected the La Crosse area.

At the Omni Center in Onalaska Wednesday was the 2014 Tree Symposium. The symposium featured multiple sessions for experts to educate the public on how the Emerald Ash Borer beetle has affected ash trees in Wisconsin.

The Emerald Ash Borer, also known as "E.A.B." originates from Asia and it has made a habit of infesting ash trees in Wisconsin since 2008. The E.A.B. infestation has increased since this time, as 30% of Wisconsin counties have been quarantined - meaning wood can't be moved out of the county.

The E.A.B. beetle was first found in the United States in 2001, infesting many ash trees which must be cut down. 

"The vast quantity of ash trees we have in the state, that's probably the big important take home message," UW-Stevens Point Associate Professor of Urban Forestry Dr. Richard Hauer said. More than 20% of Wisconsin's urban forestry population is made up of ash trees, and these trees prevent many problems while providing many benefits, Hauer said.
 
"They hold back rainwater and keep it from going into the Mississippi River, provide shade for houses and energy conservation. Also, the enjoyment of just walking down the street and just getting that nice relaxing walk with a canopy of trees," Hauer said.

Hauer said human transportation of firewood is the greatest cause for E.A.B. infestation, and the spread concerns gardeners like Tom Choinski. He wanted to learn more about the E.A.B. to prevent it from spreading through his gardens. "I'm more interested in getting more details on the cost and the technique of using pesticides to treat the tree," Choinski said.

Choinski said the E.A.B. has affected his gardens, and he was glad he was able to realize what the loss of ash trees really means for the environment. "You don't have to be an entomologist to know about bugs and what they look like and so forth," Choinski said. 

As much as Choinski would like to prevent the ash borer from spreading, Dr. Hauer said people will continue to determine the ash tree fate.

Wednesday's symposium drew roughly 150 people, and Dr. Hauer said the best way to prevent ash tree infestation is to use organic and chemical-based treatments to kill the E.A.B. before the beetle kills the tree.

For those wanting more information on the Emerald Ash Borer, call Onalaska Parks and Recreation Department at 608-781-9560, or send them an e-mail at parkrecinfo@cityofonalaska.com.
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