Oak Creek - After a heated discussion and a 3-2 vote, the Common Council earlier this month voted in favor of a Department of Natural Resource release of three species of wasps to help curb the emerald ash borer population in Oak Creek.
The decision overturned a January 15 motion to deny the release and was made after the health department and City Forester Rebecca Lane reviewed the species and said the wasps would have no adverse effects on the environment.
In a memo released to the City Council before the meeting, Lane said, "Why not release them this year before it's too late to save the ash trees?"
Lane's memo also said that studies have shown that the three species of wasp could curb up to 60 percent of emerald ash borers and reasoned that, because of two releases less than 50 miles from Oak Creek, the wasps would be in the area sooner or later.
Her memo also brought up concerns about potential log jams, erosion and flooding resulting that could result from a large amount of dead ash trees along Oak Creek's waterways.
The health department report also favored the use of wasps, saying that they would not be a nuisance to residents and did not sting.
Although both departments were in favor of the wasps, Aldermen Tom Michalski and Kenneth Gehl expressed reservations about the release of the Asian wasps.
Citing the prevalence of Japanese beetles, Michalski said, "We've already had unintended consequences with other plants and animals being introduced in areas where they weren't native, and I (would) hate to come across a problem 10 years down the line that we didn't foresee."
Among Michalski's concerns were what would happen to the wasps once the borers were gone, and he foresaw ash trees dying regardless of a wasp release. Gehl shared his concerns.
Alderman Bukiewicz, who was the sole supporter of the release in January, said, "This poses no cost to the city, but will slow them down. To do nothing just makes no sense. We have to try something."
The DNR has agreed to release the wasps at no charge to the city along county land inside and bordering the city.
Alderman Michael Toman, who originally voted against the wasp release, said he decided to vote for the release after the reports from the health and forestry departments recommended the release.
"I voted against it because we didn't have enough information," he said, adding, "We double-checked it and now I'm fine with it."
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