Indianapolis – Threats to the Forest

While KIB focuses on protecting its young trees from threats like this year’s drought, another threat is stalking Indianapolis’ urban forest: emerald ash borer (EAB). This tiny, invasive insect has killed tens of millions of ash trees across the Midwest, Northeast and southeast Canada since it was first identified 10 years ago in Detroit[1] — and it has already been spotted in Indianapolis.

As a result, many communities are organizing to protect their neighborhoods and homes from the threat through proactive efforts with the help of Neighbors Against Bad Bugs (NABB).

“The Neighbors Against Bad Bugs program grew out of the need to get communities moving and thinking about emerald ash borer before it actually arrives and starts causing damage to trees,” says Annemarie Nagle, forest pest outreach coordinator at Purdue University.

Emerald ash borer. Credit: USDA

Emerald ash borer. Credit: USDA

NABB is a turn-key extension program born out of Purdue University that offers guidance to community leaders on how to take proactive steps in protecting their neighborhoods. By pairing Purdue Master Gardeners, neighborhood associations, county extension educators and concerned citizens, the program aims to save as many ash trees as possible, while also keeping neighborhoods safe and beautiful for residents.[2]

A neighborhood known as King Park implemented the NABB plan through the formation of its Ash Borer Action Team (ABATe) in fall 2011.

“I think the work that the ABATe group has done is a really good success story,” says Nagle. ABATe gathered a dozen volunteers to survey all of the neighborhood’s ash trees in the rights of way. Beyond taking note of the ash trees, they also noted available planting space in case some of the ashes needed to be removed. Once this inventory was completed, ABATe used a combination of treatment, removal and new plantings to help preserve the character of its cherished King Park neighborhood. ABATe engaged both the city’s Urban Forestry team and KIB to help with the removals and new plantings.[3] “For every dollar that we’ve put into that neighborhood, we’re getting $1.25 back,” says Mertz. “We’re removing the trees, and they’re removing the stumps and funding any treatments or replacement trees needed.”

EAB, though, isn’t the only issue that could use citizen involvement.


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[1] Emerald Ash Borer Info. (accessed Sept. 13, 2012).

[2] Purdue University Extension. Emerald Ash Borer in Indiana. EAB Management – For Neighborhood Associations. Neighbors Against Bad Bugs Quick Guide. (accessed Sept. 13, 2012).

[3] King Park Area Development Corporation. ABATe. Our Strategy. (accessed Sept. 14, 2012).