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Fort Wayne's ash tree removal bill nears $3 million

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The city of Fort Wayne's bill for removing ash trees being killed by an invasive beetle is reaching nearly $3 million.

The city parks board on Thursday approved a new $450,000 contract for the removal of almost 2,500 trees infected by the emerald ash borer. The Journal Gazette reported that when those ash trees are gone, nearly 13,000 trees will have been cut down from city property.

Parks Board president Richard Samek said it has been like waging war against the insects.

The $3 million price tag doesn't include the cost of replacing the lost trees.

Fort Wayne's experience is getting more familiar across the state as the insect continues to move south. The ash borer was first detected in Indiana in 2004. The small, metallic-green beetle that's native to Asia has already destroyed trees in 51 Indiana counties, and has been found in all except the far southwestern part of the state.

The Indianapolis Department of Public Works is the fourth year of a five-year program called the Legacy Tree Project designed to raise public awareness about the invasive bug.

Hundreds of ash trees in several city parks have been treated with an insecticide proven to protect ash trees from the destructive insect.

Indianapolis is one of more than a dozen cities taking part in the program, which is funded by Valent Professional Products.

Fort Wayne is trying to save about 1,300 ash trees by treating them with insecticide, but city arborist Chad Tinkel said the scale of the infestation made treating all of them impossible.

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