The city of Saint Paul has stepped up its efforts to remove ash trees on public property with help from a bond issue and a new jobs program created by the Saint Paul Port Authority. In 2022 city crews will remove an estimated 3,000 ash trees, double the number felled in 2021. That will leave only 5,000 ash trees in city parks and boulevards, and those should be removed by the fall of 2024.
The City Council on September 14 received an update on Saint Paul’s efforts to combat emerald ash borers (EAB). That effort has involved the removal of ash trees, the stepped-up removal of ash stumps and their replacement with other species of trees.
The city’s approach to resolving the EAB problem is a program called “structured removal.” Entire blocks of diseased ash trees are being removed and replaced with new tree species. The city inspects the ash trees on public property annually. It also responds to complaints about ash tree infestation.
Saint Paul residents with city approval can continue to treat boulevard ash trees, but after this year the city will no longer be treating them. Its focus will shift to monitoring the trees and removing those that are diseased.
$15.9M bond issue boosts removal of stumps, planting of new trees.
The city has removed the stumps of 3,000 ash trees this year, triple the number of stumps removed in 2021. The city’s goal is to have all of the stumps removed by the end of 2025 and the boulevards completely replanted sometime in 2026. More than 4,500 replacement trees will be planted this year.
City and Saint Paul Port Authority officials unveiled plans last year to make the fight against EAB a priority. This spring the City Council and Port Authority approved a $15.9 million bond issue to pay for the removal and replacement of ash trees on public property.
Without the extra funding from the Port, it could have taken the city until 2034 to remove and replace all of the ash trees on public property. Even with the funding, it could take another decade for EAB to run its course in Saint Paul.
The city and Port Authority also created a jobs program with a host of outside partners. The program, which begins next year, will employ up to 50 youths to plant and maintain up to 2,000 trees a year. The city will also be working with the Saint Paul Parks Conservancy to refine the current tree donation program. An effort will be made to plant new trees in areas where the tree canopy is lacking. The goal is to plant more trees than the number removed.
— Jane McClure
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