Adopt-a-tree program aims to cut EAB losses

Ash trees removed from parks will be salvaged for lumber, handcrafted products

No part of Madison is left untouched by the emerald ash borer, and officials agree something has to be done.

Madison Parks launched the Adopt-a-Tree program last year, hoping to combat the devastating effect of the emerald ash borer bug on ash trees. Although thousands of ash trees will have to be cut down, the program can save the trees that aren’t too far gone.

“The Adopt-a-Tree program is something we came up with about two years ago, as we knew that the inevitability of EAB coming to Madison was close to upon us,” said Charlie Romines, assistant park superintendent of park operations, services and facilities.  “We knew that there would be a lot of people in this community, which obviously loves trees, that would want to be able to do something about saving trees.”

Residents can find a form online to adopt any tree in Madison parks, assuming the tree can still be treated. Madison Parks will then help the donor find a contractor to treat the tree. The adopter pays only the cost of the tree’s treatment.

“We try to be a conduit to help people find ash trees and hook them up with contractors that are reputable,” said Romines.

According to Romines, EAB gets underneath the bark of the tree and cuts off the tree’s xylem and phloem, which is the “lifeblood of the tree.”

 “[The ash tree] dies all at once and it dies really, really quickly,” Romines said. “It’s really a shame.”

Romines has seen the effects of EAB before. He said when EAB hit Michigan, they had no warning.

“There were communities in southeast Michigan that they got so far behind, they had no other choice, but they actually went down streets and made totem poles out of ash trees. They just limbed them completely up, so anything sticking up was often an 8- to 14-foot stump of a tree.”

He hopes that Madison will be able to use foresight of the infestation that Michigan didn’t have to cut its losses.

“For us the win is really making sure no one is hurt when these trees start to become hazardous as they drop limbs and die,” he said. “The other way to gain the win is to simply get trees replanted, replanted in a more diversified pattern so the next generation of Madisonians are not going to be sitting here in 30 years wondering why so many large mature trees have to be cut down.”

Those interested in adopting a tree or learning more can visit the Madison Park’s website.