St. Louis city to replace 13,000 Ash trees because of Emerald Ash Borer

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ST. LOUIS (KPLR) - Tom Brackman`s keen eye is what caught a bug trying to take down ash trees in his neighborhood.

'Cause this is the main street tree,' says Tom Brackman, the first to find an Emerald Ash Borer off Waterman Boulevard.  'I think there is like 35 of them on this street on this block.'

But that`s the sound of change coming to much of the City of St. Louis.

That`s because this bug`s bite is worse for this bark,

The Emerald Ash Borer tunnels into an ash tree, cutting off the flow of water and eventually killing it.

'I`m an arborist it`s what I do,' says Skip Kincaid, Forestry Commissioner City of St. Louis.  'I plant them, I grow them, and I nurture them.  Removing 13-thousand is not something I thought I would ever have to do.'

But everything changed in 2008 when the Emerald Ash Borer, or the EAB, arrived in Missouri.

Wednesday morning residents in the Waterman Neighborhood watched as the landscape changed dramatically.

The look of the tree lined street will get new life put back into it thanks to grants, an innovative plan from St. Louis City`s Forestry Division, and 13,000 replacement trees from Forest ReLeaf of Missouri.

'Well we`ve known this was coming for a long time so we`ve started preparing our nursery to prepare for it,' says Donna Coble, Executive Director Forest ReLeaf of Missouri.  'We`ve got 25-thousand trees growing out at our Creve Coeur Park, all Missouri native species.'

'We`re going to get a chance now to improve our urban forest and hopefully not put all of our eggs in one basket like we did with ash,' says Kincaid.

For the next five years, chainsaws and stump grinders will make their way around St. Louis taking down the dead and diseased ash trees and replacing with new and different Missouri native species.

'They`re 80 percent of the trees on this block so it`s going to have a huge impact on the block for a while,' says Brackman.