By Cecilia Cho

Join Heartland Tree Alliance’s (HTA) effort to replace trees that have died from the emerald ash borer. Volunteers are needed to help with two planting days in October.

As the emerald ash borer, an invasive tree pest, marches through the region, more and more trees are being infested and dying. Originating in Asia and eastern Russia, the species has made its way over both sides of the state line, affecting millions of ash trees. The region has more than six-million ash trees at risk, so the potential for devastation is immense.

borer_stacked“The emerald ash borer is expected to kill something like five million of our ash trees in the next decade, maybe even the next five years,” said Noelle Morris, program director at Bridging the Gap. “Urban forest as we see it today will look completely different by 2020.”

The Heartland Tree Alliance, a BTG program, has planted more than 14,000 trees since 2002. The group educates the public on planting and caring for urban trees and organizes planting and pruning events with volunteers.

Ash tree owners may not notice that their tree is affected until it is too late. Detection of infestation is much more difficult for those who are not sure of the signs. Affected trees will have D-shaped holes on the trunk or larvae on the trees.

In preparation for the havoc the emerald ash borer will have on the ash tree population, Heartland Tree Alliance is seeking volunteers to help plant trees in the areas most affected by the species. Volunteer opportunities will take place from 9 a.m. to noon, Thursday, October 8 at Waterway Park in Kansas City, KS and from 9 a.m. to noon on Wednesday, October 14 at Windsor Park in Prairie Village, KS.

Volunteer-PlantTrees_captionVolunteers will meet at the location and learn the proper techniques for tree planting. Additional education will be provided by Dennis Patton, a horticultural agent from Kansas State University Extension.

For homeowners wondering what they can do to combat the emerald ash borer, Morris suggests consulting with a certified arborist to determine infestation and treatment options — and to plant more trees.

“The main message is for homeowners to do their part and plant as many trees as they can on their private property in preparation for the devastation that’s coming,” said Morris. “It’s here and it’s everywhere. I haven’t seen very many ash trees around town that don’t show signs of having infestation.”

To volunteer for the tree plantings, register at www.bridgingthegap.org, Select the “give” tab, and click on volunteer opportunities to choose the date you would like to volunteer. For more information, contact Noelle Morris at 816-561-1061 ext. 115, or email noelle.morris@bridgingthegap.org.