Trees / Emerald Ash Borer

Tree City Tree City USA (JPG)

The City of Sterling became a Tree City USA in 2012.  Each year, the City will continue to re-apply for the designation.  To be designated a Tree City, a community must meet four core standards of sound urban forestry management: maintaining a tree board or department, having a community tree ordinance, spending at least $2 per capita on urban forestry, and celebrating Arbor Day each year.
 Small towns, boroughs, and townships, big cities, villages, and military installations have seen the benefits of participation in the Tree City USA program.  Whether it's creating a foundation for tree care or expanding an innovative community tree program or project, the benefits are numerous:

Framework for Action

The four core standards for becoming a Tree City USA provide the framework and direction for the strategic management of community trees.  Many communities use Tree City USA standards as a way to begin caring for the urban forest.  Others regularly enhance their management through improved ordinances, innovative programs, and increased emphasis on planting and tree care.


Annual participation as a Tree City USA community provides the opportunity to educate people who care about their community about the value of tree resources, the importance of sustainable tree management and engage individuals and organizations in advancing tree planting and care across the urban forest.  Tree City USA status can create a strong working relationship with your state forestry agency and other conservation groups.

Public Image and Community Pride

Participation in the Tree City USA program helps residents feel good about the place they live and work.  Annual recognition shows visitors and prospective residents that trees, conservation, and the environment are an important part of life in the community.

Pride in public trees also leads to more engaged residents and better care for new and existing trees on private property.


Tree City USA participation presents an opportunity to educate the public about your community's urban forestry program and showcase the benefits of community trees.  Recognition can also generate interest from other organizations and communities that aren't yet managing their trees as well as they might.  As one forester put it, "This is advertising that money can't buy — and it is free!"

Tree boards, parks departments, public works officials, and volunteers, alike, are recognized for the valuable work they provide to the community through sustainable tree management.  Many communities share in their Tree City USA recognition across city departments, elected officials, volunteers, students, and business leaders.

Emerald Ash BorerEmerald Ash Borer image 3 (JPG)

The Sterling City Tree Board is taking early action to prepare for the arrival of an insect that most likely will kill the majority of ash trees in the Sterling area. The emerald ash borer, known as EAB, is a small (1/2 inch long, 1/8 in wide) metallic green beetle native to Asia. The larvae stage is spent feeding under the bark of the tree, creating channels, known as galleries, which restrict the tree’s circulatory system. The borer eventually girdles and kills the tree.

EAB was discovered in southeastern Michigan in 2002 and has since spread through Quebec, Connecticut, Minnesota, New York, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee. Since the first discovery of EAB, millions of ash trees have died. EAB was first discovered in Illinois in 2006 and has devastated the ash tree population, resulting many times with a 90% loss, as it has tracked across northern Illinois. As a result of the invasion, shipments of ash nursery trees and ash logs with bark are now regulated, and transporting firewood outside of a quarantined area is illegal.

The Sterling City Tree Board is taking a proactive approach to informing residents of the issues that will be associated with EAB. On July 22nd, 2013, the State of Illinois confirmed Whiteside County to be a quarantined county for EAB. Although the EAB has not been discovered in Sterling yet, it has been found in Lee and Whiteside Counties. In 2012, the Sterling City Tree Board joined forces with Emily Hanson, Illinois Urban Forestry Volunteer Coordinator, to organize an ash tree tagging program in the City of Sterling along the right of ways. The program discovered less than 200 ash trees in Sterling right of ways.