Updated: 02/07/2014 7:28 AM
Created: 02/06/2014 5:04 PM KSTP.com
By: Beth McDonough
Hundreds of trees in several neighborhoods in St. Paul are being cut down. Even in the dead of winter.
It's what longtime east side resident Mary Hansen didn't want to see or hear, "why take them all, why deforest my neighborhood if they're healthy trees?"
Brad Meyer works for the City of St. Paul, "it's true a lot of these trees aren't actually infested, it's only a matter of time, it's not an if, it's a when."
That's why city crews, even in winter, are tackling mature trees in a state of decline. They're trying to get ahead of those tree killing insects called emerald ash borers.
A drive along Lacrosse Avenue by Hansen's home shows every single tree is tagged for removal, "I had not one emerald ash borer in my yard in 2013, I see no evidence these trees pose a threat."
Hansen complained to the City Council, and neighbors protested on Facebook. It's not just her block or even her neighborhood, it's happening city wide on the east side, Highland Park and the Summit Avenue area of the city.
"Over a given year we're removing 1,000 ash trees but we're also replanting them," said Meyer. Hansen responds, "it's a consolation but I'll never see them mature."
Since the EAB prevention program started, 4,000 ash trees have been removed, which means there are 21,000 more to go.
The city tells KSTP when a tree is cut down, it's taken to the Pig's Eye Wood Recycling Center, where it's processed, then used to generate power for a large part of downtown St. Paul.
It costs about $1,000 to remove and replant one tree. An assessment on every homeowner in St. Paul helps to cover the cost.