FORT WAYNE – Residents who don't want to wait up to two years to have their dead or dying street trees removed now have another option.
Ash trees across the region have been devastated by the emerald ash borer; up to 30 percent of Fort Wayne's street trees are ash. Crews have removed more than 8,500 ash trees, but there are 5,000 more that need to be cut down. The city has budgeted to remove about 2,000 more this summer but it could be 2015 before all of them are removed.
"It's safe to say it's an ash tree and you're not treating it, it's infested," said City Arborist Chad Tinkel.
Until now, the only option has been to pay yourself to have a tree removed by a contractor or wait for the city to do it. Now, in a program announced Wednesday, the Parks and Recreation Department will reimburse about 40 percent of the cost of removal, from $30.42 for trees 6 inches in diameter and under at chest height to $444 for those that are more than 37 inches in diameter at chest height.
The program is only available for ash trees in the city right-of-way, not privately owned trees, and applicants must get prior approval.
Officials have also lowered the cost of replacement trees from $75 to $50 for those who want a new tree immediately. More information on the removal and replacement programs is available at www.fortwayeparks.org or by calling 260-427-6400.
For more on this story see Thursday's print edition of The Journal Gazette or return to www.journalgazette.net after 3 a.m. Thursday.