City of Lawrence

Parks & Recreation Department



Diane Stoddard, Interim City Manager


Casey Toomay, Assistant City Manager

Ernie Shaw, Interim Director, Parks & Recreation


Mark Hecker, Assistant Director, Parks & Recreation


February 9, 2016


Emerald Ash Borer – Management Plan Funding


Issue Description

·         October 8, 2015   The Kansas Department of Agriculture along with the U.S. Department of Agriculture confirmed the presence of emerald ash borer in Douglas County, Kansas.

·         Emerald Ash Borer (Agrilus planipennis) (EAB) is a small, invasive, exotic, Asian wood boring beetle that feeds on and kills all species of native North American Ash trees.  There is little resistance to the half-inch long, metallic green adult beetles that feeds on tree leaves, with larvae that feeds under the bark branches and eventually kills the entire tree.   EAB has killed tens of millions of ash trees in at least twenty five states (EAB tree damage photo).      

·         Over the next six to eight years, thousands of local Ash trees will also die as the insect moves through native areas, parks, streets and back yards in Douglas County Kansas.   Dead Ash trees on city and private property will need strategic management to maximize public safety, while minimizing cost and liability.  

·         Recommended strategies include removal options, chemical treatment of high value Ash trees, replanting and future maintenance and planning processes.   A 100% ash mortality rate (city wide) after 8 years is expected, due to exponential expansion rate of EAB population if no measures are taken.  Individual trees are damaged beyond recovery, potentially within 3-4 years of infestation. This is of concern to homeowners, policy makers and general citizens.  Losing the environmental, cultural and aesthetic benefits of Ash trees and associated costs to implement strategies will tally in the hundreds of thousands of dollars annually. 


Tree Estimated Numbers

·         14,000,000 - approximate number of all trees in Douglas County. It is estimated that 1.9% of these trees are Ash (USDA data) 

·         130,000 - approximate number of all trees in Lawrence, public and residential. (GIS data)

·         30,000 - approximate number of publicly owned and managed trees, all types, on right of ways and in parks in the City of Lawrence (GIS data).

·         3200 - estimated number of publicly owned and managed Ash trees on right of ways and in parks in the City of Lawrence. Tree Survey needs to be completed to get an accurate count.

·         Unknown is the number of privately owned Ash trees in Lawrence and Douglas County that will need to be removed and disposed of.


Current Forestry Program


EAB Management Plan Highlights

a.    Action plan:   develop website, brochures, door hangers and training to educate public.  Update city code to include EAB as an invasive species, set up an abatement process for dead hazardous trees and sanitation on private property.   Provide funds for enforcement.


Staff Recommendation

The attached spreadsheet details cost estimates for three management options.

1)    Option #1 - The City hires three (3) additional full-time staff, and additional part-time staff to perform tree inventories, chemical treatments, tree removals and tree plantings, and public outreach associated with the EAB management plan. This plan allows us to move from our current 400 removals a year to 800 removals a year with City staff. Then allows for a three year surge using contracted tree companies to increase removals by an additional 200 tree per year in 2018-2020. This plan will also increase our tree planting from 650 per year to 1150 per year.  This plan will minimize the impact to the urban forest, with targeted removal of Ash trees and scheduled replacements with preferred species of trees in high visibility areas.

2)    Option #2 - The City hires one (1) additional full-time position to act as a contract manager. This person would oversee the program by performing public outreach  and hiring local tree contractors to perform all items included in option #1 (tree inventory, chemical treatments, tree removals, tree planting and forestry disposal services). This plan will also minimize the impact to the urban forest. However the cost is higher than option #1.

3)    Option #3 - The City hires a contract manager to coordinate the removal of dead Ash trees as they appear over the next 6-8 years. With little or no resources being allocated to treatment or replacement of these trees. This option is not recommended due its higher program cost, the depletion of the urban forest, the unpredictability of the pest population and increased public risk related to tree mortality.


Staff recommends implementation, and funding, of Option #1 beginning in April of 2016.  Chemical treatments will need to begin this spring to prevent damage to high value tree. New staff will also begin removal and replacement of trees in June.  Eventually all ash trees will be removed and replaced, but we want this to happen in managed system over 8-10 years so that it will not impact the overall appearance of the City.



Funds were not allocated for this program in the 2016 Parks & Recreation Budget. The $238,540 needed to begin implementation of the Option #1 management plan for 2016 will need to come from unallocated reserves funds. A mid-year budget amendment would need to be made reallocating funds for this program. Future budget requests will be submitted through the Capital Improvement Plan and budget process to continue the program though the year 2023


Action Requested

Authorize the Parks & Recreation staff to implement Option #1 of the Emerald Ash Borer Management Plan and authorize additional expenditures from the Sales Tax Reserve Fund in the amount of $238,540 for 2016.