These ash trees on Sheridan Road, destroyed by the emerald ash borer, have been painted blue to draw attention to the devastation.         Photo by Mary Mumbrue

On Aug. 8, City Forestry crews painted nine dying ash trees with blue paint. Those trees, located on the medians on Sheridan Road next to Calvary Cemetery, will remain for a few weeks to raise awareness of the devastating effects of the emerald ash borer to Evanston’s urban forest. Signs posted at the north and south end describe the project and direct readers to for additional information.

Paul D’Agostino, assistant director of Public Works/Parks and Forestry said that by painting the trees already scheduled for removal, the City hopes to raise awareness of how heavily the emerald ash borer (EAB) has impacted Evanston’s trees. According to the City’s website, this invasive beetle has already wiped out more than 2,000 ash trees in Evanston.

A Forestry Department worker discovered the first diseased ash tree in July 2006 in Lovelace Park. The Illinois Department of Agriculture, which confirmed the diagnosis and immediately quarantined the area, had anticipated the arrival of the EAB. As early as 2004, Evanston and the State had in place an “Illinois Emerald Ash Borer Readiness” plan, which outlines a plan for prompt and coordinated response by the organizations and agencies concerned with forests and urban trees.

The EAB is now considered the most destructive forest pest seen in North America, according to

Fourteen percent of the ash trees in Evanston are on public land. Ash trees were once popular because they were easy to transfer and relatively fast growing. Mr. D’Agostino said that the City now concentrates on planting a larger diversity of tree species.

  The more biodiversity in the tree population, the more resilient the entire tree population will be, said Mr. D’Agostino. The City tracks every public tree that is trimmed, removed or planted, said Mr. D’Agostino.  Trees that have been removed because of age or disease will be replaced with native species as funding permits.

The “I Heart Evanston Trees Project” is a way residents can help, he said. That project hopes to raise $25,000 to plant new trees in parks and parkways.

Evanston residents with questions about the EAB can call the Evanston Parks/Forestry Division at 847-866-2912 or email