MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Over the next eight years, Minneapolis will remove 40,000 ash trees from parks and boulevards, part of a $9-million initiative that began in January to eliminate the emerald ash borer.

The beetle has killed millions of trees in the U.S., and has invaded neighborhoods across the Twin Cities.

Ralph Sievert, director of forestry for the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, says the idea is to phase them out over a period of time.

“Five-thousand [ash tress] a year seems to be a very manageable number for us,” Sievert said.

But instead of taking down entire blocks of ash at a time, the Minneapolis Park and Rec Board will be more selective.

“What we don’t want to do is wipe out a whole block at once, even though that’s the most efficient way for us to do it,” Sievert said. “Instead, we want to jump around so people don’t have that initial shock of losing so many trees all at once.”

But in some neighborhoods, that’s unavoidable. Sixty-six trees were removed from the Como neighborhood in southeast Minneapolis last week because the ash borer was already there. This winter’s deep freeze killed off some of the pests, but not nearly enough.

“If we get them out this time of year, it’s before the beetle emerges and makes more beetles,” Sievert said.

The ash trees will be replaced with other tree species as a way to diversify Minneapolis neighborhoods.

The city says it’s a good time of year for homeowners to check for ash borer infestation.

An “S-shaped” tunnel underneath the bark is a sign your ash tree may be infested.

John Lauritsen

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