Lincoln mayor seeks funding to fight beetle that kills trees

Chris Beutler The mayor's proposed $10 million bond issue includes $2 million to destroy and replace trees lost to the pests.

LINCOLN (AP) — Lincoln Mayor Chris Beutler proposes a bond measure of nearly $10 million that will include $2 million to destroy and replace trees lost to the emerald ash borer.

If the City Council agrees, the combined stormwater and beetle-fighting bond measure would appear on the May 10 primary ballot, the Lincoln Journal Star reported.

The council will hold a public hearing and vote at its Feb. 29 meeting on whether to place the bond measure on the ballot.

The city seeks voter approval for stormwater improvement bonds every two to three years, but this year the mayor has added funding to fight the effects of the emerald ash borer.

"The 14,000 public ash trees in Lincoln play a role in our stormwater management system," Beutler said. "A single tree can absorb 100 gallons of rainwater, so losing them increases the flooding threat."

About 2,000 public ash trees would be replaced over a three-year period under the proposal.

It's critical to act fast because the methods for detecting the disease are imperfect, said Lynn Johnson, director of the Parks and Recreation Department.

Johnson has estimated that the emerald ash borer will cost the city about $30 million over 15 years, for cutting down and replacing lost public trees.

The emerald ash borer is native to Asia and was first spotted in the United States in 2002. Authorities say the beetle has spread to at least 25 states, killing millions of trees.

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