By John Lauritsen

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — It’s a tall task for the city of Minneapolis — removing 40,000 ash trees over the span of eight years in order to combat the Emerald Ash Borer, the tiny green bug that’s responsible for taking down trees that have stood for decades.

Even more ash trees could be removed as more homeowners ask for help.

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“There’s an estimated over 200,000 other private ash trees that were in the city limits as well,” Minneapolis Park Board representative Justin Long said.

But in the long run, the city feels its plan will be effective. A painted “X” mark means an ash tree is one of more than 5,000 trees the city will remove this year. Almost as soon as they are taken down, they will be replaced.

More than 20 different varieties of trees are being planted in places where ash trees have already been removed. The city is trying to only take an ash tree or two off a block each year, but infestation has made that impossible in some Minneapolis neighborhoods.

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“If your street happens to be infested, it will go completely. There is no stopping it. Those trees will have to be removed no matter what,” said Long.

That happened in the southeast Como neighborhood last year, where 66 ash trees were removed at one time.

Weather has the project a little bit behind schedule, so the city is working hard to get caught up by cutting down.

“EAB is here. It’s not going away. And this is the best method we have for taking care of it,” said Long.

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The city has been doing tree removal this winter, and they will begin planting new trees in April Long says the city’s goal is to never remove more than 20 percent per block, per year.

John Lauritsen