The invasive emerald ash borer, a metallic green beetle with a menacing appetite, has doomed millions of ash trees in the United States and in Minnesota.
In response to the pest, the City of Roseville has launched a multi-pronged approach that includes planting 1,500 trees. That’s 40 percent more than the 900 public ash trees in parks and along boulevards slated for removal.
“We are replacing at a much high rate than we are removing,” explained Roseville Parks Superintendent Jim Taylor. “We thought it was important that we had a full replacement plan ready to go before we started full-scale removal.”
In addition to the plantings, the city is saving and treating around 250 high-value ash trees in parks and along boulevards, Taylor said.
Roseville leaders have been drafting and implementing the city’s EAB plan for several years, but the work is now quickening as more ash trees succumb to the pest.
“We don’t have a choice. We have to start taking these ash trees down before they become hazardous,” Taylor said.
Crews from Tree Trust are removing ash trees this winter and temporarily storing them in a city parking lot. The trees will be ground into mulch in late March and then hauled off site for proper disposal. All stumps will be ground, the holes filled with black dirt and then seeded for grass.
Taylor said volunteers guided by staff have already planted nearly 600 trees and will resume planting this spring.
“We are using nearly a dozen different species in our replacement plan to make sure we don’t put ourselves in the same situation,” Taylor said. “The forestry world has made this mistake twice. We planted all elms and then Dutch elm disease came in and wiped out our elm tree population. What did we replace them with? All ash and now we are removing all these ash trees. We are trying to learn from those mistakes and make sure we plant a diverse population of tree species.”
According to the city’s tree plan, a different species should be planted every 500 feet, Taylor said. Replacement trees are typically around 10 feet tall with one-inch diameter trunks.
Replacement species include swamp white oaks, hackberries, yellowwoods, ironwoods, and ginkos. Many of these species do well in urban environments and are heat, drought, and salt tolerant.
One species that won’t be planted: maples. There’s already an overabundance of this popular hardwood in the region, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, and a new pest, the Asian longhorned beetle, is now targeting some hardwood species including maples in the eastern United States, Taylor said.
“We are really planting trees for future generations,” he said.
Taylor said they’re also working with AmeriCorps to secure a staff member dedicated to watering and checking on all these new trees this summer.
Residents can volunteer for upcoming planting events here. The City of Roseville and Tree Trust are hosting an annual tree sale. Starting March 1, residents can purchase trees at a deeply discounted rate here as part of the 2023 Spring Tree Sale. Trees should be planted within city limits.