Now that Emerald Ash Borer is confirmed in the state, a lawmaker is renewing a push to help communities deal with dying trees.
During the 2015 legislative session, State Senator Patty Pansing Brooks of Lincoln wanted to add $3 million to the Nebraska Tree Recovery Program.
The money would help counties, cities, and towns cover half the cost of removing ash trees.
Pansing Brooks says she will sponsor similar legislation next year.
“We will definitely ask for the $3 million,” Pansing Brooks tells Nebraska Radio Network. “We may need to increase that now that we realize what devastation will occur.”
The program is a 50-50 cost sharing grant for the removal of ash trees.
The Nebraska Forest Service estimates the cost for removal, disposal, and replacement of dead ash trees on public and private land to be about $960 million dollars. The public lands portion of that is $275 million.
Pansing Brooks calls it an economic development issue.
“If we lose all of them and lose the aesthetics, the health and beauty they provide, then we’re going to have some trouble getting people to come here and settle in our state and bring businesses, if we haven’t got it looking as beautiful as it is,” she says.
Pansing Brooks says this is a major statewide issue, because there are millions of ash trees around Nebraska.
AUDIO: Mike Loizzo reports [:40]