PARK RIDGE, Ill. (CBS) — Long designated as a Tree City USA, north suburban Park Ridge is about to lose some of its greenery due to an invasion by the infamous emerald ash borer.

Between 50 and 60 ash trees will be cut down over the next two to three weeks due to Emerald Ash Borer infestation and an additional 100 trees could be removed by the end of the calendar year, according to Park Ridge city Forester Tony Gliot.

“This is our first step into substantial ash tree removal as a result of the Emerald Ash Borer,” Gliot said. “It’s going to have a noticeable impact on the areas where there’s a high concentration of ash trees.”

Tree removal was scheduled to begin this week. One neighborhood that will see the most number of trees cut down over the next three weeks is the area located south of Talcott Road, north of Devon Avenue, west of Greenwood Avenue and east of the Park Ridge city limits. Another affected neighborhood is located south of Sibley Street, north of Touhy Avenue, west of Greenwood Avenue and east of Dee Road.

There are over 2,100 ash trees planted across the city, Gliot said.

“We can assume that over the course of five years or so we will remove the vast majority of those trees when funding is available to do such a thing,” he added.

A $20,000 federal grant will pay for the replacement of many of the trees cut down this year. The city must still pay for the ash tree removal which is estimated to cost between $48,000 and $60,000 if 60 trees are removed. Stump removal will cost between $18,000 and $24,000.

The emerald ash borer is an insect native to Asia which arrived in the U.S. in the 1990s. Ash borer larvae kill ash trees by consuming trunk bark, the U.S. Forest Service explains.

The insect was first spotted in Michigan in 2003, and since then has made its way across Illinois, including many Chicago suburbs. The ash borer has also been seen in Ohio, northern Indiana, Maryland and Pennsylvania, the U.S. Forest Service says.

With more Park Ridge city resources being used to remove trees affected by Emerald Ash Borer, less pruning and replacement of other tree species will occur, Gliot said. In addition, the Park Ridge City Council recently approved a budget slashing $365,000 in annual tree trimming and planting.

Between ash tree removals and fewer new plantings, residents can expect the “character” of their neighborhoods to change, Gliot added.

“The end result is going to be that this emerald ash borer infestation is going to hurt the entire urban forest, not just the ash component, for many years to come,” he said.

Pioneer Press contributed to this report, via the Sun-Times Media Wire

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