More Minneapolis trees will soon be taken down, and that has some say it's a sign of a losing battle with the tree-killing insects known as the emerald ash borer.
If left untreated, every ash tree can succumb to the tiny critters -- and it can happen quickly. So, the city is trying to remove the problem altogether.
The strategy is two-fold:
1. Pre-emptively spread out the workload of removing so many trees at once.
2. Learn from Dutch elm disease by planting a variety of trees to create pest-resistant landscape.
Although Minneapolis may be the city of lakes, residents are awfully fond of the trees as well.
"I love having them. It would be horrible without them," Blaine Marcy said. "They're just so pretty to look at."
Yet, after Dutch elm disease decimated the urban forest, the city now finds itself facing a similar problem.
"The plan at the time was to diversify block by block," explained Ralph Sievert, with Minneapolis Parks and Recreation. "Now, what we're doing is -- because of the emerald ash borer -- we're changing that again."
The invasive beetle was discovered three years ago. Only infested trees were removed at first, but as the bugs continue to spread to other parts of the city, a revised strategy is looking toward proactive removal of park trees that could be susceptible. A diverse mix of tree types will soon take their place.
"We're looking at it as canopy replacement, trying to get a variety of trees on that block but still keep the ash around as long as possible," Sievert said.
This year, the city plans to remove and replace about 5,000 trees. They will start by targeting trees under 10 inches in diameter and will not remove more than 20 percent of the mature ash trees on any given block.
"Our challenge is to try and get ahead of the losses because the cities that have experienced this have had so many dead trees, they just can't keep up with cutting them down," Sievert said.
Yet, not all homeowners are willing to give up their shade trees and are choosing to protect the ash tree with insecticides.
"It's a full-generation commitment to get a tree of this size again," said Brandon Gallagher-Watson.
It's something that has to be done every year, and the cost to protect a tree varies on its size -- but some people say treating the trees is worth it to keep them around.
"It's of value to you. Contact an arborist and have that tree looked at and see if it's a candidate for protection before it's too late," Watson urged.
For now, the city will only remove and replace; however, they say they will work with homeowners who are interested and willing to pay for the cost of treating parkway ash trees.
"For us, it's kind of a residential preference. If people want to treat that boulevard tree, they can," said Sievert. "That's just another tree we don't have to remove right away."
Generally speaking, a tree can be treated for about 20 years for the same price as having it removed.
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