The Emerald ash borer, a beetle native to Asia, was first detected in the U.S. in Michigan in 2002. The EAB has since been detected in many U.S. states, and in Canada.
Locals are now worried about the invasive insect reaching Nebraska, as it was recently found as close as Kansas City. Officials are asking residents to help save ash trees, the species of tree the EAB could destroy.
The Hastings Parks and Recreation department is inspecting and removing declining ash trees along terraces and in parks, to slow down the spread of the EAB if it arrives. The removal of trees will also reduce the cost of treating infested trees once the pest arrives. As they remove ash trees volunteers will plant replacement trees.
The city's director of Parks and Recreation, Jeff Hassenstab, said, "Any ash tree that's in good condition, we will try and save . . . the emerald ash borer isn't here yet, if we take down the ones that are declining, we can prevent the spread of the EAB, if it does come to Nebraska."
Members of the Hastings Tree Board and Parks and Recreation are also asking residents to refrain from moving firewood across state and county lines.
Will Locke with the Hastings Tree Board said, "A foreign insect has come in and the trees have no resistance. It can't go long distances. It's a poor flyer; it's a great borer, but a poor flyer so we can just keep it from getting free rides via transported firewood, we think we can slow it down dramatically."
"We don't know if we can stop it," Locke added.
Locke and Hassenstab said they're asking residents to call in experts and examine declining ash trees on their properties.
For more information, call 1-866-322-4512, or visit www.emeraldashborer.info.