When Emerald Ash Borers make an appearance in an area, grant money exists. I can remember finding out too late that I could have signed up for money from Milwaukee in order to treat my trees back in 2012 or 2013. But when I search for grants to help prevent the Emerald Ash Borer continuing infestation in 2019, many of the same articles from over five years ago still top the charts, and the ones that are new seem to be in places that are newly hit rather than in areas where people like me have spent hundreds or thousands of dollars trying to save our trees.
I can't say for sure that it's wrong to give up on those of us who have fought to keep our trees. I did it to save the money ($3,000+) of cutting down five mature trees. And for the sentimental value, since two of the trees have swings hung between them, and all the trees had been there since I moved into the house in 1991. The ash trees in our Milwaukee yard kind of defined the space, too, with forest-sized trees on a quarter acre lot in Milwaukee. Not as impressive as the elm that once dominated the entire yard, but still very nice trees.
Without government grant funding to try to save these ash trees, I'm probably going to have to rip them out of the yard. $1,200 to treat professionally (one estimate), on top of the over $1,000 I've spent over the years on commercial insecticide, and no guarantee. Whereas chopping them away might cost $3,000, but only once. No more worries about branches falling or trees dying. Cutting the trees down comes with a guarantee. Of course, a government grant would have made the choice more obvious: try to save the trees with the help of the government. Left on my own, I have to do what makes the most sense so that I don't lose even more money.
Sadly, in those first years, there were probably grants for tree removal as well as medicine. I didn't want to remove the trees, however, and now I get to pay the price. In places like Nebraska, where new infestations are just now happening, people have to make the same decisions, but they have the benefit of government support right now. Not so much a few years from now, after forestry and DNR funds have dried up for ash trees.
My guess is that most communities give up on the organized, sustained effort after just a few years. Those of you new to emerald ash borers, consider yourself warned about this. At some point, the costs associated with keeping your trees alive will likely be all your own. Looking back, I can’t say my family would have been better off without the trees, but I can say that I should have jumped at any government offer to either treat or eliminate the ashes in my yard. So seek out local government programs while they last in your area.