University invests in protecting, saving trees

Written by Muleskinner Staff

News Editor

(WARRENSBURG, Mo., digitalBURG) — A massive infestation has taken UCM’s trees captive and it’s not the squirrels.

UCM grounds crews have been treating trees on campus for the past few weeks to combat iron deficiencies and Emerald Ash borer bugs.

Brad Mackey, grounds manager at UCM, said 63 trees are being treated on campus. He said 38 oak trees have been injected with iron to combat iron deficiency, and 25 ash trees are infested with Emerald Ash Borers.

“The chlorotic oaks, that’s really not that big of a deal,” Mackey said. “Not enough iron is a thing that just happens with oak trees. There’s not enough in the soil. The bigger thing is what we’re doing for the Emerald Ash Borer.”

Mackey said UCM grounds crews contracted out the treatment of the trees to True Green, a company that has helped treat many trees in Kansas City, Missouri.

“It’s a lot easier and cheaper to have somebody come in and do it who knows what they’re doing and can get it done,” Mackey said.

Chris Bamman, director of facilities and operations planning, said the chemical treatment of the trees cost about $7,000.

Mackey said the cost of treating the 63 trees with the hope that some will survive is cheaper than the cost of taking the trees down and disposing of them, and paying the additional replanting costs.

Mackey said the Emerald Ash Borers are a problem across the U.S. and Canada.

“The Emerald Ash Borer is a little bitty bug,” Mackey said. “It’s bright green and the adult is a bright green, winged beast that is about a half-inch long. They lay their eggs and pupate underneath the bark and eat underneath the bark and end up killing ash trees.”

He said the Emerald Ash Borers are an epidemic and, if ash trees are left untreated, entire forests can be destroyed.

“We’re trying to be as proactive as we can,” Mackey said. “We’ll just do what we can to try to keep it at bay and sure hope we succeed. I think we will to a large part. We’re going to lose some. There’s some that are already infected and we know that. We didn’t treat those, there is no use. They’re too far gone; we didn’t touch them. Most of them are kind of small. We’ll leave them alone for a few years and then we’ll take them out.”

Mackey said people on campus hate to see trees taken down, but it’s a necessary evil.

“When we notice a tree that could be a danger we try to take care of it because we don’t want to see anybody get hurt,” Mackey said. “Everybody on campus always gets upset when they see a tree come down and sometimes they think we just do it for fun and trust me we don’t. We don’t like to see them go any more than anybody else. When you have as many trees on campus as we do it’s the nature of the beast.”

Mackey said like humans, trees get sick and die.

“Humans get different diseases. Things bother us, like Zika,” Mackey said. “It’s a bug that’s spreading something here too, it’s just the Emerald Ash Borer on the ash trees.”

Mackey said determining whether or not treatment was successful won’t happen immediately. He said it will take a few years of continued checks-ups and treatments.

“Hopefully it’ll work, there are no guarantees unfortunately,” he said. “We’ve got to try; we’ve just got to try because 63 trees is too many. You don’t want to see those go. Just don’t want to see them go.”