Warren County’s ash trees are in imminent danger from the emerald ash borer.
“It’s not a matter of if it’s going to happen, it’s a matter of when,” said Gary Clendenon of finding emerald ash borers in Warren County.
Clendenon, a plant inspector from the Tennessee Department of Agriculture, tracks exotic pests such as the emerald ash borer and the hemlock wooly adelgrid. Warren County was recently placed under quarantine for the borer.
“Emerald ash borer has been found in White, Van Buren and DeKalb. I think there are 49 counties where it has already been found. It hasn’t been found in Warren County yet, but we have been included in the quarantine area. They believe it’s here, even though it has not been found.”
The quarantine works to restrict movement of lumber, logs and firewood in an effort to prevent the spread of the species. While those products can be moved out of a quarantined zone only under compliance with certain stipulations and treatments, they can move freely within the quarantine zone.
According to Clendenon, the trees at Riverside Cemetery are in danger of infestation due to their close proximity to a saw mill since this community is included in the zone and products from other quarantined counties can be brought here without being treated.
“You have some magnificent ash trees in the cemetery,” said Clendenon. “They are huge. They are like four feet plus. The saw mill brings in trees from other communities. He’s allowed to do that.”
There are currently no options available for the treatment and movement of ash tree nursery stock outside the quarantine zone. Ash tree nursery stock can only be moved to other counties within the zone.
The information was presented during a city Building and Grounds Committee meeting.
“How do we stop this?” asked Alderman Everett Brock.
Emerald ash borer has led to the destruction of millions of ash trees. Clendenon urged treatment before infestation.
“There are some treatments available to protect your trees and the time to treat them is ahead of the curve, before they get infested. It’s like a vaccination,” said Clendenon.
When asked about the cost to treat, Clendenon says it will be several hundred dollars per tree.
“For those big ash trees, I calculated it back in the fall and I don’t know if the chemical cost is still the same, but at that time, it would have cost about $500 to treat those big ash trees down there. That’s for one tree. The treatment will last 2-3 years or more. The hemlock treatment is lasting five years or more.”
Ash trees are located throughout McMinnville.
“It’s not only city property,” said Clendenon. “On the Security Federal property where they hold Main Street Live, there are some beautiful ash trees there that make that setting. If they aren’t treated, they will have to be cut down one day.”
Vice Mayor Ben Newman asked when the quarantine will be lifted.
“Never,” said Clendenon. “I don’t foresee it ever being lifted.”
City officials can either train employees how to treat the trees or hire a company to do it. No decision has been made.