Kent will receive $37,500 from the state to remove and replace ash trees as part of a pre-emptive measure against the emerald ash borer.
The city learned Tuesday it is among 29 communities to receive grant funds from the Ohio Division of Natural Resources Division of Forestry.
The city applied for $50,000 from the 2011 Ash Removal and Canopy Restoration Grant Program, which requires matching local funds, through the ODNR. A total of $600,000 was available in the program, and the grant is a competitive grant open to 61 counties.
Initially, the city planned to spend the money removing about 300 of the Tree City's ash trees and replacing them with a variety of other species.
Kent Arborist Gerald Shanley said he's not sure yet how the program will change with less funding.
"At this point I’m not sure … we’ve got to restructure how we’re going to do it because it’s actually less than we applied for," Shanley said. "We got the highest amount that was awarded."
The emerald ash borer, a shiny green beetle about the size of a thumbnail, was first discovered in northwest Ohio in 2003. The tree-killing insect is thought to have come to Ohio from southeast Michigan several years ago, where it was unintentionally introduced from Asia.
No trees have been found infected with the bug in Kent, but officials believe it's only a matter of time before a Kent ash tree becomes infested.
From May to August, adult beetles fly to an ash tree, mate and feed on the foliage. The female insect lays eggs on the tree and dies within weeks. Those eggs hatch into larvae that bore between the bark and sapwood, the thin layer of live tissue called vascular cambium. The larvae feed in a serpentine, or s-shaped pattern, until the following summer, when they mature into adult beetles and repeat the cycle.
"As it's (the larvae) feeding, it's disrupting the flow of nutrients and water between the tree," Shanley said in a previous interview. "It takes three to five years to kill a healthy ash tree. You may just have one adult beetle lay her eggs, but as the adults emerge, instead of flying, they stay here and feed on this tree and start the cycle over again. It takes multiple infestations to kill that tree."
Shanley said his concern is that a dead or weakened tree can fall from the wind or from an accident onto sidewalks, roads and even utility lines.
There has been one reported case of infestation in Portage County and three in Summit County, including Hudson. The entire state has been quarantined by the United States Department of Agriculture, making it illegal to transport ash trees, parts of ash trees and all hardwood firewood out of Ohio, according to the Ohio Department of Agriculture's website.
Of the 29 communities awarded the grant, only seven received the highest amount of $37,500.