May 10, 2017 09:34 AM
Minneapolis and St. Paul will lose nearly 60,000 trees because of the destructive emerald ash borer in what arborists say is an environmental catastrophe.
The Minneapolis Park Board plans to remove 5,000 trees a year until all of the city's public ash trees are gone, the Star Tribune reported. The board has been removing ash trees whether they show signs of infestation or not, because damaged and dead trees could fall and hurt people or property.
"Even the trees that still look healthy can still have the beetle in it," said Ralph Sievert, the Minneapolis Park Board's director of forestry.
Cost and timing are also factors in deciding to cut trees down instead of treating them with insecticide.
"If we're jumping right on it and getting trees removed and replaced, we should never have a huge number of trees dying in a short period of time," Sievert said. "Money we spend on treating, we can be using that to just buy more trees and replace them."
More than 8,500 boulevard ash trees have been removed in St. Paul so far. The city is taking down trees so quickly it doesn't have enough funds left to cover immediately pulling stumps and replacing trees.
"It's been hard and emotional for the community," said Mike Hahm, director of St. Paul Parks and Recreation. "If it hasn't touched people directly, it will."
So far, the situation hasn't spurred action from the Legislature, leaving cities across the state mostly to fend for themselves.
"A prevailing view (at the Legislature) is 'the trees are going to die, so let it happen,'" said Rep. Rick Hansen, DFL-South St. Paul, who has unsuccessfully pushed for state funding to help manage the problem. "I think we're better than that. We've been better than that in the past."
Updated: May 10, 2017 09:34 AM
Created: May 09, 2017 03:31 PM
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