American Transmission Co.

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ATC helps three communities replace trees lost to emerald ash borer

Three Wisconsin communities replaced trees lost to emerald ash borer and improved their urban tree diversity this year, thanks to grants from American Transmission Co.’s Community Planting Program.

Emerald ash borer is an invasive, wood-boring beetle that kills ash trees by eating the tissues under the bark. Native to northeastern Asia, it was first detected in the U.S. in 2002 and in Wisconsin in 2008. Since then, EAB has been reported in 85% of Wisconsin’s 72 counties (as of September 2021).

According to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, EAB generally kills ash trees in urban areas and along roadsides in infested areas, costing municipal governments millions of dollars for tree removal and replacement. The financial impact of EAB in Wisconsin forests is unknown but is believed to be substantial.

While the insect spreads slowly on its own, EAB impacts are greatly accelerated when people unintentionally move it in firewood and nursery stock.

Fond du Lac (Fond du Lac County)

The city of Fond du Lac recently planted several trees in Lakeside Park West to replace those lost to EAB, which is killing all the untreated ash trees in the city. The trees were planted near Supple Marsh, along Howard Litscher Drive to provide shade and natural beauty for park visitors.

These additional trees—a mix of Jefferson elm, redpointe maple, bald cypress, tamarack and tuliptree—will create more fall color interest, increase food and cover for wildlife, and attract butterflies, songbirds, and birds of prey. Lakeside Park borders Fond du Lac River and Lake Winnebago, one of the largest inland lakes in the U.S. As the trees grow, the city hopes they will be roosting sites for eagles and hawks, increasing bird viewing opportunities for park users. Fond du Lac is a recognized Tree City USA by the Arbor Day Foundation.

Manitowoc (Manitowoc County)

The city of Manitowoc planted several trees in Red Arrow Park, located on the shore of Lake Michigan. The park offers many recreational amenities, such as a handicap-accessible lakefront and beach walkway. Approximately 7.23 acres of the nearly 20 acres of park is a conservancy area consisting of a narrow strip of land running south approximately 2,800 feet along the Lake Michigan shoreline.

This spring, the city removed 22 ash trees impacted by EAB. The grant from ATC is helping to replace some of those trees with a more diverse tree canopy of oak, elm, hackberry, birch, and white cedar trees. Manitowoc is a recognized Tree City USA.

Menasha (Winnebago County)

In the city of Menasha, EAB is destroying canopy cover in the same neighborhoods that lost the majority of their trees to Dutch elm disease. Partnering with an elementary school and the University of Wisconsin–Oshkosh’s Fox Cities Campus, the city planted 30 new trees on Second Street between Manitowoc, De Pere and Appleton Streets.

Planting additional species trees that are less common to the area diversifies the urban forest and protect it from future diseases. Improving canopy cover also leads to energy savings, improved air and storm water quality, and increased home values to people living there. Menasha is a recognized Tree City USA, Menasha Utilities is a Tree Line USA, and UW–Oshkosh’s Fox Cities Campus is a designated Tree Campus USA.

ATC’s planting program

ATC’s Community Planting Program enables us to encourage and support communities to plant trees and vegetation that beautify the landscape in a way that doesn’t compromise the safety and reliability of the electric transmission system.

The program provides financial support to eligible cities, villages, towns, counties and tribes in ATC’s service area for planting projects on public property, outside transmission line rights-of-way. Program funds can be used to plant trees and other tall-growing vegetation. Since 2013, ATC has awarded approximately 240 communities and organizations with funds totaling more than $425,000.

ATC accepts applications from June 1 through Sept. 30, and award recipients are selected and notified by the end of the year. Awards range from $100 to $5,000. Additional information and program applications can be found at atc-GrowSmart.com.