Eagan is striking a preemptive blow against the emerald ash borer. The city's weapons of choice? An $89,000 grant and some chainsaws.
Come spring time, Eagan city workers will be evaluating boulevard trees and removing any that have defects which could make them attractive to the emerald ash borer. If a tree is deemed vulnerable, the resident will get an offer for a city worker to remove it to help stave off the nasty beetle. Residents with vulnerable trees on their property, provided they're on boulevards where the city has the right-of-way, will be able to get replacement trees free. The types of trees to be offered are hackberry, honeylocust, bicolor oaks and Kentucky coffee trees.
Minneapolis, Saint Louis Park, and Eagan MN received the 3 largest of 15 grants awarded by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture from the Outdoor Heritage Fund and the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment approved by Minnesota voters in November 2008. Cities that have found the beetles, including St. Paul, are receiving bigger grants to battle the ash borer.
"We don't have it yet," added Paul Olson, Eagan's superintendent of parks, "but this is a lot like controlling a major forest fire with a firebreak. We'll be taking out high-risk ash trees, but also using insecticide trunk injections to preserve high-quality ash trees."
Eagan has already taken an inventory of its trees, identifying about 100 that are at currently at risk and need to be removed. About 20 ash trees on boulevards will be treated with pesticides for protection. Eagan has a total of 3,600 ash trees in the city right of way.
The grant covers only the boulevards. Private homeowners can pay for their own protection or removal, but city officials will come out and help assess risks and any possible infestation.
Eagan will hold an hour-long public information meeting for residents who are interested in learning more about the ash borer and the plans at 5:30 p.m. Feb. 11 in the Eagan Room at city hall, 3830 Pilot Knob Road.