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      Macomb chosen for ash tree removal pilot program

      The city of Macomb is getting a helping hand fighting the threat of the emerald ash borer.

      Macomb was chosen to be one of seven communities in the state to be part of a pilot program from the Illinois Department of Agriculture .

      The city will get between $100,000 to $150,000 to pay for ash tree removal and replanting of new trees in the public right of way.

      Outside crews will be responsible for the work.

      Mayor Mike Inman says that the city is fortunate to be chosen for the program.

      "There's municipalities all across Illinois where there's active infestation that are looking at millions, millions of infrastructure improvements to their interior tree program to replace these trees," Inman said. "We're hoping to nip it, so to speak in the bud with this program."

      Macomb City Forester Tim Howe says that the infestation is already to close for comfort.

      "We're right on the edge of emerald ash borer," Howe said. "It's in the city of Galesburg. It's in the city of Burlington. Both about 50 miles away."

      Howe says the program will do more than just remove the ash trees.

      "This program does it all," Howe said. "Removes the high priority trees, grinds out the stump and then lets us replant trees. And we'll be able to increase the diversity of tree species we have in our community even more."

      The city will provide the department of agriculture a list of which trees need to be removed.

      Once a company has been chosen to do the work, the removals should start late this spring or early this summer.

      Planting the new trees should start in the fall.