The dreaded emerald ash borer has been discovered in Minneapolis. The Minnesota Agriculture Department confirmed the infestation of four trees at Tower Hill Park, not far from known infestations in St. Paul and Falcon Heights. The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board will cut down the trees before spring and intensify efforts to find other diseased trees.
This is not an unexpected turn of events. With the discovery of the green beetles last spring in St. Paul and later in Falcon Heights, officials are trying to slow the spread. A widespread and expensive infestation could threaten the state's 940 million ash trees.
Last year, 82 diseased trees were found and removed in the South St. Anthony Park neighborhood of St. Paul and one tree in Falcon Heights. Earlier this year, crews in St. Paul began cutting down 355 nondiseased boulevard ash trees in other parts of the city as part of a broader strategy to slow the spread of the beetle. The Como Park neighborhood is experimenting by pre-emptively cutting down 40 undiseased ash trees. In the spring, crews expect to focus their efforts on removing diseased trees in the infested area.
In Minneapolis, crews participating in an ongoing survey of trees recently found D-shaped exit holes and other indicators of the ash borers in the trees, all within a mile of the St. Paul infestation. The new location indicates the infestation is likely part of the original one discovered last year, according to Mike Schommer, an agriculture department spokesman.
"Finding it in Minneapolis is not a real big surprise because we know that infestation had been in place for about three years before it was found,'' Schommer said. "We also know adult beetles can fly up to two miles on their own.''
"Really, this is just sort of a natural outgrowth of that ground zero area,'' added Jim Hermann, forestry program manager for the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, which is responsible for planting and maintenance of public trees on Minneapolis city streets and parkland.
Ramsey and Hennepin counties are both under an emerald ash borer quarantine that bans people from moving any items from the counties that may be infested with the beetles, including ash trees and ash tree limbs, as well as all hardwood firewood.
Minneapolis, Eagan, and other selected cities in Minnesota received $1.9 million last year from the Legislature to help them cope with emerald ash borer infestations and to protect themselves from new ones.