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by Joni Astrup
Gina Hugo calls it “the green menace” and says it’s not a question of if it will arrive in Elk River, but when.
The menace is the emerald ash borer, and when it arrives it poses a threat to the more than 10,000 ash trees in Elk River.
“Emerald ash borer is here in Minnesota. It is spreading. It is being detected in new areas regularly,” said Hugo, a resource conservationist for the Sherburne Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD). The emerald ash borer has been found as close as Shoreview in Ramsey County.
Emerald ash borer attacks and kills all species of ash trees. There are nearly one billion ash trees in Minnesota, Hugo said, more than any other state in the nation.
In a recent presentation to the Elk River City Council, Hugo said it’s crucial to prepare for the emerald ash borer in advance, rather than waiting until it is detected. By then, she said, populations are often already quite high.
SWCD is facilitating an urban forestry program with participation from Elk River and other cities in Sherburne County. The goal of the program is to assess, manage and plan for the trees in Sherburne County.
As part of the program, SWCD is working with city staff to develop an emerald ash borer preparedness plan for Elk River. It also is working with various agencies and volunteers to complete tree inventories this summer for Elk River and other cities in Sherburne County. The agencies include St. Cloud State University, the University of Minnesota and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, but volunteers will play a key role.
“The on-the-ground work is going to need to be done by volunteers,” Hugo said.
Volunteers will receive training in May on tree identification, data collection and tree measurements. To volunteer, contact Hugo at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 763-241-1170, ext. 101.
SWCD also intends to make provisions for replanting trees.
About the emerald ash borer
•Emerald ash borer is an insect that attacks and kills ash trees. The adults are small, iridescent green beetles that live outside of trees during the summer months. The larvae are grub or worm-like and live underneath the bark of ash trees. Trees are killed by the tunneling of the larvae under the tree’s bark.
•Emerald ash borer is native to eastern Asia but was discovered in Detroit, Mich., and Windsor, Ontario, in 2002. Indications are it may have been introduced to this area as early 1990. Emerald ash borer has been spread in ash firewood, nursery stock and possibly other ash materials to a number of new areas.
•All ash trees are susceptible and millions of ash trees have been killed in infested areas already.
•For more information, go to the Minnesota Department of Agriculture site at www.mda.state.mn.us/plants/pestmanagement/eab.aspx
Source: Minnesota Department of Agriculture