• Post category:NEWS

The scourge of the emerald ash borer continues to make itself felt throughout Saint Paul. The city has already removed 700 trees on public property this year, and crews are now cutting down another 2,100 trees marked with bright green rings in Macalester-Groveland and other neighborhoods.

Saint Paul has been battling the emerald ash borer since 2002. City forestry staff still treat some trees on public property, but increasingly have been removing and replacing them. With the assistance of the Saint Paul Port Authority, that effort is to continue through 2026.

Elected officials and neighborhood leaders said they are not hearing as many concerns about tree removal of late.

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“It’s really painful to even lose one tree,” said Ward 2 City Council member Rebecca Noecker. Over the past month she has met with West End neighbors to discuss the loss of their trees. Her ward also includes a stretch of Grand Avenue between Victoria and Avon streets where several trees came down recently.

Trees cut down in 2022 are to have their stumps ground out this year on some blocks, while other stumps will be added to the schedule. Replacement trees are tentatively planned to be planted in most areas in 2023.

“It’s really painful to even lose one tree,” said Ward 2 City Council member Rebecca Noecker. Over the past month she has met with West End neighbors to discuss the loss of their trees. Her ward also includes a stretch of Grand Avenue between Victoria and Avon streets where several trees came down recently.

The city work is strictly on boulevards and in parks. Private property owners must take care of their own trees. Homeowners who wish to purchase a specific type of boulevard tree have to get a city permit after a stump is removed before replanting.

One of the areas hit hard by tree removals this year is Mears Park. Thirty-seven ash trees were marked for removal in the northwest area of the park, and two more in its southern area. By February 10, all of those trees were gone.

Residents around the park met earlier in February with Noecker, the Friends of Mears Park and city forestry staff. Rachel Coyle of the city’s forestry staff said that, weather permitting, stumps in the park will be ground out and new trees planted this spring.

Some trees in Mears Park continue to be treated. For how long depends on the trees’ health as well as city resources.

Next year, a total of 2,200 trees are being eyed for removal in the city, and another 2,200 in 2024. The city’s goal is to complete removals in 2024 and replacement tree planting in 2025. How long it takes to grind stumps will dictate when trees are replanted.

People can learn if their boulevard ash tree is slated to be removed over the next three years by checking out a map of the city’s management program at tinyurl.com/2p8etxn2.

— Jane McClure

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