Monday, February 22, 2010

St. Paul to Ash Borer: Let the Battle Begin

Posted by Kirk
(photo credit: US Forest Service)

It seems like a lot of the efforts thus far in the new battle against the invasive emerald ash borer have been reactive on the part of St. Paul, Minnesota. This is completely understandable with a new invasion like this. At the end of January though, the city opened a new front in the battle and it may not be where you would expect. The heart of the Emerald Ash Borer infestation has been centered on the very westernmost part of St. Paul near the Minnesota St. Fair grounds and the University of Minnesota St. Paul campus. The announcement at the end of last month was that the city would begin cutting down trees on the far East side of the city. They will remove XXX trees in wards 5, 6 and 7. The city has almost 30,000 ash trees on boulevards alone and it is estimated that ash trees make up 30% of the tree canopy in the city. According to the city's management plan, there are around 120,000 ash trees on public lands in the city. Make no mistake. The Emerald Ash Borer being found in St. Paul is a very bad thing. The city is now trying to be proactive in containing the threat.

The current plan is to remove the oldest and unhealthiest trees in the city that would be most likely to succumb to the eventual spread of the pest. These trees will die anyhow in the next few years as the ash borer spreads so by taking them out now the city not only gets a head start on their work but they hopefully will slow the spread of the borer by taking away trees that would be of use to the pest.

The reason for cutting down old trees proactively on the opposite side of the city from where the current infestation is located is that cutting down ash trees in the infected area would simply cause the bugs to spread further faster in search of suitable trees.

Trees have already been removed in the following areas:
Wilson Avenue between White Bear Avenue and Kennard Street
Reaney Avenue between Flandrau and Germain Streets
Hoyt Avenue between White Bear Avenue and Flandrau Street
Iowa Avenue between Kennard and Hazelwood Steets
Idaho Avenue between Flandrau and Germain Streets

Trees will shortly be removed on the following streets:
Walsh Street between Maryland and Magnolia Avenues
Magnolia Avenue between Payne Avenue and Walsh Street
Lawson Avenue between Weide and Arcade Streets
3rd Street between Germain and Flandrau Streets
Atlantic Street between Gotzian and 4th Streets
3rd Street between Earl and Atlantic Streets

The city is only removing boulevard trees and not trees on private property. Time will tell how the city's strategy pans out. You can download and read the city's entire management plan online. Eagan, Blaine, Minneapolis, St. Louis Park, New Hope, Minnetonka , and Cottage Grove have all also received money to help fight the spread of the beetle.