Morenci has 25 fewer trees after cutting and trimming in the last few weeks, and several more will be removed this winter.
Eight dying ash trees were among those cut down, said city superintendent Barney Vanderpool, and there are many more ashes that haven’t yet succumbed to emerald ash borer infestation.
About a dozen need to be cut along Page Street, Vanderpool said, and he expects the city crew will attend to that this winter since there are no overhead wires where the trees are located.
Most of the trees cut were mature maples with hollow wood found in areas of the tree, but Vanderpool was surprised that a few younger maples were also in need of cutting.
“I knew a few trees had to come down,” he said, “but I wasn’t planning to cut that many.”
The ash trees along Page Street were among the first Vanderpool helped plant when he first started working for the city.
“We’ve planted a lot of trees since then,” he said, and it wasn’t just a matter of replacing cut trees.
Many years, he said, more were planted than the number of those removed. He tried to plant 20 trees a year in the past when funding was available.
City clerk/administrator Renée Schroeder said the cost of planting 25 trees—the cost of the trees, the DPW’s labor and equipment usage, and mulch—costs more than $5,000. She’s hoping to obtain grants to pay part of the cost.
With the ash situation, the city isn’t likely to keep pace with the cutting for a while.
“The ashes are really starting to go,” Vanderpool said, and he’s hoping a maple tree pest or disease doesn’t arrive in the future.
As a precaution, the city is planting a different variety of maple, along with hackberry, tulip tree, oak and flowering pear.