How A Green Beetle May Cost Superior $2.2M


Emerald ash borers – an invasive insect species – have been found in Superior, more than 100 miles north of any previous infestation.

An adult emerald ash borer can fly about a half a mile but somehow it’s jumped across the northern half of the state. Division of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) spokeswoman Donna Gilson says the nearest quarantine area is Trempealeau County meaning the bugs that made it to Superior likely got a lift.

“It almost certainly was brought by some kind of human activity but we don’t know,” says Gilson. “It doesn’t really matter, because knowing that wouldn’t really change how the city responds to it or how we respond from a regulatory standpoint.”

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Gilson says all of Douglas County will be put under quarantine. That means firewood won’t be allowed to leave the county and all businesses using ash wood will have to sign compliance agreements with DATCP. For the City of Superior, it could mean the removal of up to 3,000 ash trees.

Parks and Recreation Director Mary Morgan says that would hit the budget hard. “The public trees alone – that comes to $1 million to remove and $1.2 million to replace with something else. It’s a very significant cost factor in our community.”

Most trees infested with the ash borer die within a few years. Douglas County has the largest working forest in the state, and County Parks and Recreation Supervisor Mark Schroeder says they have large stands of valuable ash trees.

“We have approximately 23,000 acres of ash, which is about 8 percent of the total forest that’s under the Douglas County Forestry Management Department,” says Schroeder.

The emerald ash borer has been confirmed in 20 counties in the state, mostly in the southeast and southwest. It was first found in Wisconsin back in 2008.