Emerald Ash Borer Continues to Threaten Parkway Trees in Chicago

Chicago Citizens Unite to “Save Our Ash” with New Program Launch in 2020


Nearly 12 years ago, Arborjet was asked to assist in developing a strategy to protect the roughly 90,000 city owned Ash trees in Chicago from the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB). The program jointly developed with the City of Chicago Department of Streets and Sanitation Bureau of Forestry would save millions of dollars and Chicago’s tree canopy.

Initially, we trained close to 100 city arborists, and prepared them for the arrival of the pest. Emerald Ash Borer was found in 2008, on State street, and like so many city EAB discoveries, it had been there for a few years.


Emerald Ash Borer treatment, before and after (L to R)
Tree on State St., Chicago, under attack of EAB 2008                                      Same tree, healthy, after 2 treatments 2014


The recession of 2008 created challenges for the city, and a jobs program was begun to continue Emerald Ash Borer ash treatment.  A group of up to 26 residents were hired, trained and licensed. They began to treat at the rate of about 18,000 trees per season. The city had identified approximately 60,000 trees in good health, and that was the target group throughout all wards which they attempted to protect. The city had planned on treating each tree, every 3rd year, with the prospect that over time, the city would begin reducing the ash population and replacing them with a  more diverse pallet of trees, without the susceptibility of a single tree genus.

The challenges of our world, and economics made it difficult to sustain that model, and the city ended the program in 2019. With 45,000 trees remaining relatively healthy, a citizen funded program was conceptualized this year, and initiated at the start of August, with the expressed goal of saving as many of these street ash as possible to preserve the livability of neighborhoods, homes and businesses.

Just as Arborjet helped to ensure that the original program to save Chicago’s city ash trees was developed, we felt a strong sense of obligation to support the proposed new program. This new program encourages individuals and neighborhood groups to pay for or raise the funds to have their ash trees treated by a select group of four participating tree care companies, and to offer affordable rates to these citizens groups, to assure the continued survival of their street ash trees.

With the cooperation of many of the city’s Alderman, and with the oversight of the North River Commission (NRC), a non-profit group who have been working tirelessly for decades to support a better life in Chicago, the program began with outreach to community groups, leaders and elected officials.

A website landing page was created to assure that any group or individual who wanted to get the tree(s) in front of their property treated for Emerald Ash Borer at this reduced cost could contact the participating companies for treatment. They are using the control product, TREE-äge, developed by Arborjet which is the same product used by the city, injected and sealed directly into the tree, offering multiple year protection against Emerald Ash Borer, with re-treatment required only every 2-3 seasons.

Because some of these trees have not received a city treatment for Emerald Ash Borer in 4 or more years, it is critical that residents who want to assure that their parkway trees survive, reach out to one of these four treatment companies today, to order the protection necessary to save their trees. This year and next will make the difference between a beautiful tree surviving, and a future without a mature tree shading and enhancing your property.

You can visit the NRC website to get more information on the Save Our Ash program, and for the direct contact information for the treatment companies who are participating in this program. We fully support the leadership of the NRC and the willingness of these four treatment companies who offered to help Chicagoans to preserve their critical street ash trees.

Please pass along this website to those who must know about this program and thank you for choosing to protect  both the incredible tree canopy, and the quality of life in Chicago.


Robert Gorden
Director of Urban Forestry and Business Development