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Elma will survey its ash trees in search of destructive insects

An invasive insect laying waste to trees in parts of Western New York has prompted Elma officials to take steps to protect their green canopy.

The emerald ash borer, a green beetle with a voracious appetite for ash trees, was first detected in Western New York in 2006, in Cattaraugus County. It reached Erie County in 2011.

One in every five trees in Erie County is an ash tree, according to the state Department of Environmental Conservation, so protecting them is becoming a priority in some municipalities.

The Elma Town Board on Wednesday accepted a $12,000 grant from the state that matches a contract thet town awarded to The Tree Doctor to take stock of the town’s ash trees.

The survey will provide the town with an accurate number of ash trees and their condition, Supervisor Dennis Powers said.

Powers noted that town officials aren’t sure if the Emerald Ash Borer has taken residence in Elma, but he wouldn’t doubt it.

“It’s been found in East Aurora, so my assumption is it’s here, too,” Powers explained.

Based on the survey’s results the town council is expected to apply for another grant to help pay for treating the trees and removing those that the insect destroyed.

Powers said the town has never taken inventory of its trees before.

A native of Asia, the emerald ash borer first entered the United States in a shipment of auto parts delivered to Detroit from China in 2002. It has spread throughout the Great Lakes region.

Elma used another grant to help finance a project that replaced the windows in the town library.

A $28,960 grant from New York State helped defray the cost of the nearly $75,000 project.

Powers said the town had budgeted only $10,000 for library repairs, so the council transferred $35,905 from Elma’s fund balance to pay for the cost.

Big L Distributors performed the work.

According to Powers, the building still had its original windows, which dated to the 1950s.

“There’s no more whistling; you could actually hear the wind blowing through,” Powers said. “The new windows look great. It was long overdue.”