Defeating the emerald ash borer

The city should do whatever is needed to stop the infestation and restore lost trees.

While Minneapolis is named for the abundance of lakes inside its borders, it could just as well be known as the city of parks and trees, which are just as important to the city’s identity.

However, the emerald ash borer has become a growing problem in Minneapolis and around the Twin Cities since it was first discovered in 2010. The insect infests and eventually kills ash trees, which make up a significant portion of the trees in the area. According to a July 9 MinnPost article, the city is home to 38,000 ash trees on its public land and an estimated 175,000 on private property.

In a Minnesota Daily article published last week, city forestry director Ralph Sievert estimated more than 40,000 trees will need to be removed and replaced to prevent long-term damage to the city’s urban forest. The city’s Parks and Recreation Board has proposed an annual $1.2 million levy that would to go toward restoring the trees. According to the Minneapolis Parks website, the proactive replacement approach allows the MPRB Forestry Department to replace the urban forest with a diverse mix of tree types to ensure the city continues to have an abundance of trees.

Ash trees have been and continue to be a vital source of beauty and nature in Minneapolis, and the City Council should approve the proposal.

Residents should also be sure to take steps to prevent the spread of the emerald ash borer. The Hennepin County website lists several simple ways, such as buying firewood locally rather than transporting it and reporting trees that show signs of infestation so action can be taken as soon as possible.

Long-term damage caused by the emerald ash borer would be a severe loss for the area, resulting in empty parks and boulevards. The Twin Cities community should do as much as possible to stop the infestation and restore lost trees quickly.