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City Finishes First Rotation of Emerald Ash Borer Treatment

The city is working to save as many trees as possible, but replacing those it cannot.

For the last three years, the Richfield Public Works Forestry Division has been working to evaluate and either treat or cut down boulevard ash trees that have been infected by the Emerald Ash Borer.

Emerald Ash Borers, an invasive bug from Asia, first made its appearance in the United States in 2002. It arrived in Minnesota in 2009 and just this year infected trees have been seen two miles east of town at Fort Snelling Golf Club. Newly hatched larvae burrow into the tree and feed on it, resulting in tree mortality.

Richfield began to take action in 2010, dividing the city into three different zones working from east to west to chemically treat the ash trees, according to Jae Morrison, public works natural resources coordinator.

The city uses a trunk injection method that requires drilling a hole in the tree, inserting a one-way valve and using a needle to inject a chemical treatment. Morrison said this method was selected because other methods don't coincide with certain environmental protection laws Richfield falls into. Some trees have ultimately been removed as well, however, the city has or will be replacing them with new ones.

"We'll start the rotation over next spring," Morrison said. "This year we were able to finish treating trees by the end of July."

Mayor Debbie Goettel was pleased with the treatment program.

"Some cities are cutting all their ash trees down," she said. "I’m glad we decided not to do that.

A budget of $50,000 has been allowed each year, which treats about 1,000 trees, according to Mike Eastling, director of public works.

As far as "privately owned" trees, Morrison said residents who can contact the department at 612-861-9170 and an inspector will come look at it for free. Treatment for an infected tree costs $15 per diameter inch for the same treatment method as used on boulevard trees.

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Robert September 18, 2012 at 08:25 PM
Thanks for the update. I hope they're able to save all those trees!
Caitlin Burgess (Editor) September 19, 2012 at 04:08 AM
The one thing he didn't mention is how many trees have had to be removed. The city seemed to jump on this before it became a major problem, so hopefully many of the trees are getting better.
Rob Gorden September 19, 2012 at 04:30 PM
As I work with cities across the country, those who ultimately decide that saving the trees makes both economic sense and environmental sense for the city should be recognized for their forward thinking. These trees can be saved, and protected for far less than the cost of removal, and the city keeps it's mature canopy. Richfield is a early adopter of a very effective trunk injection method that will assure that it's city streets don't turn into sun drenched open fields of houses and buildings. When EAB has truly reached the devastation in MN that we see in states further east, the citizens of Richfield will feel blessed indeed by their foresight.
Caitlin Burgess (Editor) September 19, 2012 at 04:55 PM
You're right, Rob. Jae Morrison actually said that Richfield is being looked at by other cities as an example, which is very cool. I'm no tree expert, but I imagine that The $50 it costs per tree for treatment, is definitely less than replacing that tree when you think of removal, disposal, buying the new tree and nurturing the new tree.

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