Gaze into the crystal ball and see the future of Fort Collins’ urban forest.

Gray skeletons with thinning crowns and ragged leaves mar rows of healthy trees on the city’s streets. They’re ash trees claimed by the emerald ash borer, the take-no-prisoners pest with an appetite for one of Northern Colorado’s most common trees.

In Boulder, which became the emerald ash borer’s first western American target in September 2013, the pest has triggered the removal of more than 700 of the 6,000 ash trees on city property. That number is growing.

The progression of infestation is “striking,” Boulder city forester Kathleen Alexander said, and it offers an unparalleled look at what’s to come for Fort Collins. The insect’s arrival to the Choice City is inevitable.

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