State takes action to try to stop emerald ash borer from spreading beyond Boulder

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LOUISVILLE, Colo. -- The state is taking on a little bug that can cause big-time destruction of ash trees.

The Colorado State Forest Service is setting up traps to detect the emerald ash borer or EAB along high-traffic roads outside Boulder, including U.S. 36, South Boulder Road, Highway 7 and Highway 119.

It should finish setting up more than 120 traps in the next couple of weeks. Boulder is the only place in Colorado infested with the tree-killing pest.

But insect experts suspect it will eventually make its way elsewhere and could be devastating to the ash tree population. About one-fifth of trees in any given community are ash.

“If all those trees are not treated in some manner as EAB moves through, those trees will all die. It will create millions in dollars of loss,” CSFS entomologist Dan West said.

Communities will also lose the quality of life trees provide, including shade, beauty, improved water retention and drainage.

Ruben Zylstra has seven ash trees at his house. He has chemically treated several of them and hopes for the best. He knows there's no guarantee it will work.

“I hope it works. But at the same time I understand, nature takes its course. That’s how things work,” he said.

State workers will also test four traps inside Boulder to see which one captures most of the problematic pest. Early detection of EAB is incredibly difficult. It can take four years before there are visible signs.

The state asks residents to first identify if they have ash trees. Then, look to see if any branches are dying or if leaves change to fall colors too soon.

If so, call the Colorado State Forest Service at 970-491-6303. It can look at your tree and help you decide what steps to take next. Those steps could include trying to salvage the tree or take it down.